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Green Iguana Taxonomy

An Advanced Look Into The Green Iguanas Taxonomy

Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

Green Iguana

  • Kingdom:
  • Animalia
  • Phylum:
  • Chordata
  • Class:
  • Reptilia
  • Order:
  • Squamata
  • Family:
  • Iguanidae
  • Genus:
  • Iguana
  • Species:
  • iguana

tax·on·o·my - tak-son-uh-mee

1. The science or technique of classification.
2. The classification of organisms in an ordered system that indicates natural relationships.
3. The science, laws, or principles of classification; systematics.
4. Biology. the science dealing with the description, identification, naming, and classification of organisms.

Classifications Explained

Kingdom - The kingdom is considered a top level directory and is subdivided into 5 major kingdoms which includes the Monera, the Protista (Protoctista), the Fungi, the Plantae, and the Animalia.
Phylum - This is morphological grouping and despite the seemingly different external appearances of organisms, they are classified into phyla based on their internal organizations.
Class - This is a grouping that is determined by characteristics.
Order - The "order" was introduced to help break down and classify the "class" grouping into more comprehensible groupings.
Family - Next only to species and genus, the family is the most important rank in taxonomy. Its usage and characteristic ending of the names belonging to this category are defined in the Codes of botanical and zoological nomenclature.
Genus - A genus is a group of species that are more closely related to one another than any group in the family.
Species - A species is a grouping of individuals that interbreed successfully to produce more of the same species.

Understanding the Green Iguanas Classification


All animals are members of the Kingdom Animalia (also called Metazoa). All members of the Animalia are multicellular, and are heterotrophs (An organism that requires organic substrates to get its carbon for growth and development.). Most ingest food and digest it in an internal cavity. The bodies of most animals, with the exception being sponges, are made up of cells organized into tissues. Most reproduce sexually, by means of egg and sperm.


The Chordata is the animal phylum which includes humans and other vertebrates. (Some chordates are not vertebrates.)

At some point in their life, every chordate has had the following features (These features may only be present during the embryo stage, as with humans and many other vertebrates.)

-- Pharyngeal Slits - These are a series of openings that connect the inside of the throat to the outside of the "neck". (Often used as "gills", though not always!)
-- Dorsal Nerve Cord - This is a bundle of nerve fibers which runs down the "back". It connects the brain with the lateral muscles and other organs. (This would be called the "Central Nervous System" in humans.)
-- Notochord - This is a cartilaginous rod running underneath and supporting the nerve cord.
-- Post-anal Tail - This is an extension of the body past the anal opening.


The class Reptilia is distinguished from the rest of the animal world by a series of characteristics that are specific to this class. Below is a list of these characteristics that define the class "Reptilia".

The body is covered with horny, epidermal scales.
Respiration (breathing) is controlled by lungs, opposed to gills.
They are ectothermic and thermo-regulate.
The skeleton is well ossified (bony).
Most have a three-chambered heart. (The exception being crocodilians, which have a four-chambered heart).
Most have paired limbs and five toes designed for climbing, digging, running or paddling, (There are exceptions, such as snakes and various lizards.)
Reptile egg shells contain extra embryonic membranes including allantois (Sac-like structure for nitrogenous waste and a means for oxygenation of the embryo.), amnion (A membranous sac which surrounds and protects the embryo.), yolk sac, and chorion (The outermost of the two fetal membranes that helps to absorb from it nutritive materials for the growth of the embryo.). Internal fertilization.


Members of this order share similar characters in bone structures and anatomy of the male sex organ. Each have bodies covered in scales and periodically shed their skin. Fertilization is an internal process.

The Order Squamata is composed of three suborders.

Amphisbaenia - amphisbaenians
Lacertilia (also called Sauria) - lizards
Serpentes (also called Ophidia) - snakes


Under this classification there are eight iguanid genera with approximately 35 species currently recognized.


This is the first of a 2 part system used in binomial nomenclature for identifying this animal. This identifier (Genus Name / generic name) should always be capitalized and written in italics. (When handwritten the Genus should be underlined.)


This is the second of a 2 part system used in binomial nomenclature for identifying this animal. This species identifier (genus name / generic name) is also known as the epithet. This identifier is not capitalized and should be written in italics. (When handwritten the Species should be underlined.)

Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

Resources - References

1. Hickman, C. P. Jr., L. S. Roberts, and A. Larson. 2003. Animal Diversity, 3rd edition. McGraw Hill, Boston.
2. Frost, D.E. and R.E. Etheridge (1989) A Phylogenetic Analysis and Taxonomy of Iguanian Lizards (Reptilia: Squamata). Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Misc. Publ. 81
3. Schulte, James A., II., John Pablo Valladares and Allan Larson (2003) Phylogenetic relationships within iguanidae inferred using molecular and morphological data and a phylogenetic taxonomy of iguanian lizards.
4.Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Author: Richard Brooks
Green Iguana © Gouldingken [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
Orange Green Iguana © Cary Bass [CC-BY-SA-3.0]