The Desert Left Behind
Marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) - Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos National Park, Ecuador
The niche these iguanas have evolved to occupy is quite amazing. Here you can see one basking on some lava at the edge of the coast, the way I photographed this iguana is pointing toward the interior of the island where you can see the dry desert scrub that lies along the coast. Had I taken this photo from the other side you would see this iguana resting on a strip of lava and then the ocean. Desert on one side and ocean on the other, with a barren strip of lava in the middle, this hardly seems like a nourishing environment to live in. However these iguanas flourish, they take to the water to feed and will lay their eggs in the sandy habitat visible behind this iguana. Due to these lizard's propensity towards life in the ocean there are many shots of them with it. The iguanas no longer need to venture into nor can they survive in the interior of the island, but we shouldn't forget their ancestors came from terrestrial habitats and their closest relatives the Ctenosaura iguanas can still be found in habitat like the desert you see behind. Their common ancestor may very well have been found in a similar habitat, however over millions of years and great evolutionary changes the marine iguanas have left it behind.