No two lizard species have spawned as much folklore, wonder, and myth as the Gila Monster, Heloderma suspectum, and the Beaded Lizard, H. horridum—the sole survivors of an ancient group of predacious lizards called the Monstersauria. More like snakes on legs, monstersaurs are a walking contradiction: they are venomous yet don't appear to use their venom for subduing prey; their mottled patterns mingle with the broken shadows and textures of their desert and tropical dry forest habitats, yet their bright open mouths hiss a bold warning that a nasty bite awaits those who advance further. And while Gila Monster venom produces excruciating pain, it also contains a peptide that has become a promising new drug for treating type-2 diabetes. Perhaps the ultimate paradox is that monstersaurs are among the most famous of lizards, yet until quite recently they have remained among the least studied. With numerous illustrations, stunning color photographs, and an up-to-date synthesis of their biology, this book explains why the Monstersauria seems poised to change the way we think about lizards. Daniel D. Beck—who has been investigating Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards for over 22 years—teams up here with award-winning wildlife photographer Tom Wiewandt to produce a comprehensive summary of this small but remarkable family of lizards.
1. Monsters in Our Midst: History, Humans, and Heloderma
2. Evolution, Distribution and Systematics
3. The Venom System and Envenomation
4. Physiological Ecology
5. Habitat Use and Activity Patterns
6. Population Ecology (with B. E. Martin and C.H. Lowe)
7. Diet, Feeding, and Foraging Ecology
8. Reproduction, Behavior and Heloderma in Captivity
10. Future Directions
11. Literature Cited
Daniel D. Beck is Professor of Biology at Central Washington University.
“This book certainly is a must for anyone interested in arid environmental species, and especially those involved in lizard ecology. the author provides a very comprehensive coverage of all the literature known on these two beautiful species, which is related in an extremely readable volume with highly enlightening details and facts. This book will hold your interest from the moment you pick it up! We highly recommend it and feel that every herpetologist will want a copy of this opus on our only poisonous lizards.”—Blltn Of The Maryland Herpetological Society
“No one could ask for a more comprehensive yet readable book on the biology of any group of animals, especially this long neglected yet fascinating group of lizards.”—Mark K. Bayless Qtly Review Of Biology
"This is the first comprehensive treatment of the biology of the Monstersauria in nearly 50 years, during which time our knowledge has increased dramatically. It gives the reader an unprecedented opportunity to understand the evolution, ecology, and behavior of gila monsters and beaded lizards, as well as insights into folklore, venom, and threats to the existence of these fabled animals."—William Cooper , Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne
"Beck is the foremost authority on these animals and has published extensively on them. He provides a highly readable and fascinating summary of their biology."—Jonathan Campbell, author of Venomous Reptiles of Latin America