Pink iguanas

14 January 2009 by Noah Gray, posted in Uncategorized

With all of the hoopla surrounding the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, as well as the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species, I decided that I could get in on this action as well.

A recent publication in PNAS conducts a genetic analysis of the pink iguana, or rosada, to this point only an anecdotal species (some park rangers in the Galápagos saw one in 1986). It turns out that this version of the land iguana only lives on one particular volcano on the island. Based on data analysis of microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA, it was found that the rosada is deeply divergent from the yellow, which has biologists re-interpreting the evolutionary legacy in this lineage. Based on the estimated population size, this new species would fall into the “critically endangered” category under international conservation standards.

Despite 150 years of trekking along the beautiful coasts of this island, how did scientists miss a huge pink reptile?? Mr. Darwin, perhaps you could elaborate as to why you didn’t find the Volcan Wolf an appealing place to explore?

The yellow and rosada iguanas compared. Courtesy of PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.0806339106

2 Responses to “Pink iguanas”

  1. Linda Lin | Permalink

    holy smokes. they look really huge in those pictures…
    the pink iguana kinda looks like a dinosaur in figure C.

  2. Jillian Tsai | Permalink

    Great post! Just wanted to throw it out there for anyone looking to travel to the Galapagos Islands that I have found Galapagos Inc by Wildlife Vacations ( to be a very helpful source for booking travel to the region.


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