Conolophus marthae, the Galapagos Pink Land Iguana, is found on Isle Isabela of the Galapagos Islands, about 600 miles west of Ecuador. They are found only on Vólcan Wolf, a remote volcano on the northern part of Isabela. ("Galapagos Conservancy", 2015; Gentile and Snell, 2009; Gentile, et al., 2009; Gentile, 2012)
Conolophus marthae lives in tropical dry shrub land near the caldera of Vólcan Wolf, at elevations as high as 1700 meters during the rainy season. They migrate down the volcano to tropical dry forests during the dry season, at elevations as low as 600 meters. The animals have never been seen inside the caldera. Vólcan Wolf is an active volcano that last erupted in May, 2015. (Gentile and Snell, 2009; Gentile, 2012)
Conolophus marthae has a pinkish head, pink and black body and legs, a black tail, and variable numbers of black, dorso-lateral stripes along the posterior part of the body. The snout is elongated, unlike the blunt snout of Galapagos Land Iguana Conolophus subcristatus. Males have an adipose nuchal crest that is distinct from other land iguanas. The holotype weighed five kilograms, and had a snout-vent length of 47 centimeters. (Gentile and Snell, 2009; Horwell and Oxford, 2011)
Very little is known of the mating systems of the Pink Iguana. It was observed that males have a distinct head bobbing pattern for attracting mates. They move their heads up and down three times consecutively, within 4-5 seconds. This is a much more rapid movement than other land iguanas, and may be a barrier for hybridization. (Gentile and Snell, 2009)
Very little is known about the reproduction of Conolophus marthae. There were no animals under the age of four found in the population. A female was found with 4-7 eggs in her follicles, which is a much smaller number than reported for the Galapagos Land Iguana Conolophus subcristatus, which produces up to 25 eggs. ("Galapagos Conservancy", 2015; Gentile, 2012; Horwell and Oxford, 2011)
Surveys noted no juvenile specimens in the population, so parental investment of Pink Iguanas is not known.
The lifespan of Conolophus marthae is unknown, but is likely similar to the Galapagos Land Iguana, which can be more than sixty years in the wild. ("Galapagos Conservancy", 2015; Horwell and Oxford, 2011)
Very little is known about the general behavior of the Pink Land Iguana.
The only known population of Pink Iguanas has never been spotted outside of a 25 kilometer square area. They move from the top of the caldera of Vólcan Wolf to a lower area on the mountain during the dry season, then return to the top of the caldera during the rainy season. They were found within a 10.9 square kilometer area when discovered, but most individuals were clustered in an even smaller area. (Gentile, 2012)
There is little known about communication and perception of the Pink Land Iguana. (Gentile, 2012)
The Pink Iguana was seen in similar habitat as the Galapagos Land Iguana Conolophus subcristatus, and it likely eats similar vegetation, most notably the pads, fruit, and flowers of the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia. Hatchlings and young are probably more insectivorous. (Gentile and Snell, 2009; Gentile, et al., 2009; Horwell and Oxford, 2011)
As with the other Galapagos Land Iguanas, feral cats and black rats are likely predators of hatchling and juvenile Conolophus marthae. Galapagos Hawks predate the adults and juveniles. (Gentile, 2012; Horwell and Oxford, 2011)
The Pink Land Iguana consumes vegetation around a mountain. They probably disperse seeds, especially during migration. Pink Iguanas live near other land iguanas, and may compete with them for food. They are preyed upon by Feral cats, Black rats and Galapagos Hawks. (Gentile, 2012; Horwell and Oxford, 2011)
There are few known positive impacts of Conolophus marthae on humans. They are a genetic link between the marine iguana and other land iguanas, so they serve to educate us on the evolution of the Galapagos Iguanas. Since they live on a volcano that is too remote for anyone but trained park rangers and researchers to access, they do not yet influence ecotourism. (Gentile and Snell, 2009; Gentile, 2012)
There are no known adverse effects of Conolophus marthae on humans. (Gentile, 2012)
The Pink Land Iguana is considered critically endangered by the IUCN Red List because there is only one known population of about 192 individuals. Reproduction is believed to be hindered by the predation of black rats and feral cats on individuals up to four years of age, as no individuals of that age class were found in the population. The active volcano the iguanas live on is considered a great threat, as are the frequent droughts the Galapagos Islands experience. Parasites are also a threat to the Pink Iguanas. The Galapagos National Park has implemented feral cat control on other islands, but as Isabela Island is so large, and Vólcan Wolf is so remote, it is unlikely that lethal control will be completely effective. ("Galapagos Conservancy", 2015; Gentile, 2012)
The Pink Iguana was only discovered in 2009, so very little is known about it. Most of the research was focused on genetic and physiological differences between the Pink Iguana and other land iguanas, rather than behavior. There is also the problem that no juveniles were observed in the population, so it will be immensely difficult to discover any information about reproduction and development. Conolophus marthae is likely the most similar to the Galapagos Land Iguana because they share 96% of their DNA. The 4% difference is still quite significant, so it is likely that some behavioral and physiological traits may differ. (Gentile and Snell, 2009; Gentile, et al., 2009; Gentile, 2012)
Kat Crowley (author), Michigan State University , James Harding (editor), Michigan State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.
an animal that mainly eats meat
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
2015. "Galapagos Conservancy" (On-line). Accessed December 05, 2015 at www.galapagos.org.
Gentile, G. 2012. "IUCN Red List" (On-line). Accessed December 05, 2015 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/174472/0.
Gentile, G., A. Fabiani, C. Marquez, H. Snell, H. Snell, W. Tapia, V. Sbordoni. 2009. An overlooked pink species of land iguana in the Galapagos. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106: 507-511.
Gentile, G., H. Snell. 2009. Conolophus marthae sp nov (Squamata, Iguanidae), a new species of land iguana from the Galapagos archipelago. Zootaxa, 2201: 1-10.
Horwell, D., P. Oxford. 2011. Galapagos Wildlife. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press. Inc..