Tropical Green Thornytail Iguana (Uracentron azureum)

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Green Thornytail Iguana (Uracentron azureum)Green Thornytail Iguana (Uracentron azureum)

This is yet another of one my amazing finds in the Amazon Rainforest.  I was visiting a native Amazonian village and I saw an Amazonian boy shooting at something up in a tree with his little bow and arrow.  When I saw what it was, I asked him to stop shooting at it and let me take a picture of it.  I had never seen one of these before and I was fascinated by it.  Being from Texas, I was familiar with the Texas Horned Lizard, but I had never seen anything like this colorful Green Thornytail Iguana.

The Green Thornytail Iguana is found in the northern Amazon Rainforest countries of Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, N Brazil and Colombia.  It is an arboreal lizard that lives mostly up in the trees.  Like most all other lizards, it is insectivorous, with ants being it’s primary diet.

After I took this photo I asked the boy to not shoot it and let it go.  He reluctantly agreed.  Normally, I would have not intervened out of respect for his culture, but I just did not want to see this little guy shot.  It is hard for outsiders to understand the Native Amazonian culture because it is so different from our own.  One might question why the parents would not teach their boys not to go around shooting everything they see.  There is a reason this though.  Little Amazonian boys must grow up to be great hunters in order to be able to provide for their families.


Understanding Amazonian Culture

Just like first world little boys start playing sports at a very young age to hone their skill and train their bodies to be better at sports, the same is true for Amazonian boys when it comes to the use of bows and arrows.   They need to grow up practicing this skill from an early age.  Little Amazonian boys need little bows, just little little T-ball boys need little bats.  They cannot hunt large animals with their little equipment, so they hunt small things, like lizards, bugs and birds.  While this may seem like senseless killing to outsiders, it is actually essential to the development of these boys into skilled hunters.   Shooting at these tiny targets trains these boys to be expert marksman with their style of equipment.

Unlike first world archery equipment that has advanced sighting systems to aid even novices to be able to be accurate, the Amazonian archery equipment relies completely on skill on instinct that must be trained into the archer’s mind and muscle memory from childhood.  This is the reason that it is so important for these young boys to be able to use their equipment to hunt at will.  As they grow in and mature, so does the size of their equipment and the animals they hunt.  This is why you find very little wildlife near and Amazonian village.  While it may difficult for some to understand and accept, it is their culture and essential for their survival and outsiders need to respect that.


Pictures captured with Sony Digital Camera

For more information about the Green Thornytail Iguana and other amazing reptiles, check out these resources below.

Reptiles and Amphibians of the Amazon: An Ecotourist’s Guide

Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica

The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians