Thursday, June 29, 2017

dining out on false news

And though he really knowsA multitude of things
They're mostly wrong
I should have that adage chiseled in the concrete above my work station. The line is from Bock-Harnick's The Apple Tree. Eve is attempting to explain how she could possibly love Adam in "What Makes Me Love Him?"

The line came to mind this morning and saved me a lot of embarrassment. Let me explain.

Yesterday, I was heading upstairs with a limb lopper to trim off one of the bothersome flowers on my Queen Anne palms (bring forth the guillotine). The stairwell has several small niches for recessed lighting. As I passed by the last one, I saw something large dart past me down the stairs.

My first reaction was it was a coachwhip snake. Earlier in the week, Antonio, The Pool Guy, had encountered one next door. He was convinced it was about six feet long.

That is possible. They do grow that long. And they are fast.

But it was not a snake. It was a lizard. A black spiny-tailed iguana, to be more specific. Probably a young female. I had discovered one of her newborns in a pail on the upstairs terrace.

And this is where The Apple Tree lyrics came to my rescue.

A year or two ago, I was breakfasting with an expatriate friend. He told me he had recently discovered what we call black iguanas are not iguanas, at all. Only the green iguanas, which are also very common here, are iguanas. The "black iguana" is merely a lizard.

Now, I had always believed the green and black were two different types of iguanas. But I believed that because that is what I had been told. I was now being told something quite different.

One of my chief rules in life is to constantly doubt what I know. After all, if I test it and find it wanting, it should be discarded.

My friend had received his information from his Mexican gardener. And a quick internet search back then came up with the same answer: black iguanas are not iguanas.

When I sat down to write this essay, I knew there would be skeptics amongst you. After all, so was I when I first heard that bit of revisionism. The solution was simple: I looked for the article to support my position.

I could not find it. What I did find was source after source (all of them authoratative) that described the black iguana as an iguana. Like the green iguana, it is in the Family Iguanidae. But the similarity splits there.

The two types have different genus and species. The black iguana is Ctenosaura similis. The green iguana is Iguana iguana. (Maybe it is that Walla Walla styling that gives the green iguana some precedence in being called the sole iguana.)

My research did uncover two interesting bits of trivia. Black iguanas make terrible pets; they are inveterate biters. But they taste much better than green iguanas. It appears one good bite deserves another.

When I started this piece, I was in Full Smug mode. After all, I had the opportunity to share a bit of nature news that was not well-known. And, had I not done my due diligence, I would be eating crow by this evening when a number of you had snoped me.

If I want to pass along some non-conformance tales, I will just have to fiollow Mark Twain's advice: "I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened."

I will leave it to you to be the judge.

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