Reptile of the suborder Lacertilia, which together with snakes constitutes the order Squamata. Lizards are generally distinguishable from snakes by having four legs, moveable eyelids, eardrums, and a fleshy tongue, but some lizards are legless and snakelike in appearance. There are over 3,000 species of lizard worldwide.
Like other reptiles, lizards are abundant in the tropics, although some species live as far north as the Arctic circle. There are some 20 families of lizards, including geckos, chameleons, skinks, monitors, agamas, and iguanas. The common or viviparous lizard Lacerta vivipara, about 15 cm/6 in long, is found throughout Europe; in the far north, it hibernates through the long winter. Like many other species, it can shed its tail as a defense, later regrowing it. The frilled lizard Chlamydosaurus kingi of Australia has an erectile collar to frighten its enemies. There are two poisonous species of lizard, the Mexican bearded lizard and the gila monster. (For flying lizard see flying dragon.)
ETYM Old Eng. lesarde, Old Fren. lesarde, French lézard, Latin lacerta, lacertus. Related to Alligator, Lacerta.
Relatively long-bodied reptile with usually two pairs of legs and a tapering tail.