Suborder Lacertilia

Lizards are a much more ancient group than the snakes. The earliest-known lizards were small insectivores that lived in southern Africa during Late Permian times. Few fossils remain to trace the course of their evolution during the first half of the Mesozoic Era. However, at the end of the Jurassic period the group seems to have undergone a burst of evolution, and primitive members of all the major modern groups had suddenly appeared — including geckos, skinks, iguanas, blindworms and monitors.

Besides the changes in the skull that produced more efficient jaws (above), other structural changes gave lizards better hearing and better articulating surfaces in the joints of their limbs for improved walking. All these features combined to make lizards fast, efficient hunters, able to deal with comparatively large prey, such as other reptiles.

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