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Ditmars Horned Lizard Spotted On Sky Island Trip

Noah Horton, Director of Foundation Relations at, traveled with members of the Sky Island Alliance on the 2013 Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assesment to the Sierra La Púrica in Sonora, Mexico. A team of nearly fifty expert scientists joined a group from CONANP (Comision Nacional De Áreas Naturales Protegidas - the Mexican National Forestry Service), and multiple groups from universities in Mexico to document the diversity of plant and wildlife in the Chiricahua Mountains.

“By the end of the trip, we documented multiple endangered plants and animals,” said Hoton.

One of the highlights of the trip was the sighting of a Ditmars horned lizard. “This lizard was originally discovered in the late 1800s, then lost to science for sixty-three years, when it was rediscovered in 1960,” said Horton. “It was since not seen again - until Sky Island Alliance found, photographed, and documented a juvenile of the species on this trip. The herpetologist who found the lizard has personally been looking for this species for twenty years.”

Horton added that the discovery of a juvenile of such a rare species will help those advocating for further land protection in this region.

“Protecting land in Mexico is tricky,” he said. “While the land in the US can be protected at the federal level, the land in Mexico is mostly privately owned. It is necessary to work with ranchers and landowners south of the border to convince them of the importance of land conservation and achieve a voluntary designation. Discoveries like the Ditmars horned lizard ensure more land can be set aside, and that vital wildlife corridors can be preserved for larger rare animals like the jaguar.” 

GreaterGood supports these efforts through contributions from The Rainforest Site. The current project to preserve and protect wildlife and habitat by the Sky Island Alliance has been designated a GreaterGood Signature Program.


Photo of juvenile Ditmars horned lizard courtesy of Charles Hedgcock.

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