In the idyllic island of Cozumel, in the Caribbean Sea, it’s not just the beauty of turquoise waters and underwater wonders that capture the attention of visitors. This tropical paradise also hosts a hidden treasure: a surprisingly colorful variety of iguanas, whose evolutionary path is a fascinating chapter in the natural history of Cozumel.
The Origins of An Evolution:
Iguanas have been long-time inhabitants of the island of Cozumel. These reptiles, belonging to the Iguanidae family, arrived on the island thousands of years ago. Originally, they were of a uniform green color, which allowed them to camouflage amongst the dense vegetation. However, over time, the iguana population of Cozumel began to show changes in the colors of their skin.
The Division into Three Colors:
Astonishingly, the iguanas of Cozumel began to show a division into three different colors: green, orange, and gray. Scientists believe that this diversification is the result of evolutionary adaptations to different environments on the island. The green iguanas remained mainly in forest areas, while the orange ones found refuge in rocky areas, and the gray ones adapted to living near the beaches.
Where to Find Them in Cozumel:
- Green Iguanas: These fascinating reptiles are mainly concentrated in the wooded areas of the island. One of the most well-known places to spot green iguanas is the Punta Sur National Park, where their green color perfectly camouflages with the lush vegetation.
- Orange Iguanas: To observe the orange iguanas, a visit to the rocky areas of the island is a must. One of the most famous places is the Faro Celarain Ecological Reserve, where these reptiles can be seen basking on the rocks.
- Gray Iguanas: If you find yourself near the beaches, especially around San Miguel de Cozumel, you might be lucky enough to spot the gray iguanas. These creatures are often seen along the shoreline, basking in the sun.
Cozumel, known mainly for its crystal-clear waters and coral reefs, also holds a terrestrial surprise: its colorful iguanas. Their evolutionary development, which has led to a diversification of colors, is a fascinating example of how nature adapts to the various nuances of the environment. When you visit this magnificent island, be sure to keep your eyes open for these incredible inhabitants of Cozumel.
Not only will they enrich your experience, but they will also give you a new appreciation for the complexity and beauty of nature. Remember to respect their habitat and to observe them from a distance, without disturbance, to contribute to the conservation of these splendid creatures and the island’s ecosystem.