According to the University of Michigan’s Department of Zoology, there are 35 species in the Iguaninae subfamily. While all iguanas share a common ancestor, and most display similar characteristics, the group is very diverse, encompassing species of very different sizes, geographical ranges and eating habits.
The marine iguana is a very unusual species. Native to the Galapagos Islands, marine iguanas spend their time alternating between basking on the rocks of the beach and diving underwater to forage for their sole food source: algae. Three species of iguana inhabit the South Pacific island of Fiji. These bright-green lizards, which are classified in the genus Brachylopus, are the most geographically isolated species of iguana. Their closest living relatives are found on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, some 6,000 miles away. Desert iguanas are one of the smallest forms, reaching only 16 inches in length. Native to the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, these small iguanas consume flowers, fruit and insects.
The most famous members of the family, the green iguanas, are leaf-eating herbivores, native to Central and South America. Reaching up to about 6 feet in length, green iguanas are one of the world’s longest species. Also native to Central America, spiny-tailed iguanas only reach about 4 feet, and tend to be less arboreal than their green cousins. Spiny-tailed iguanas are omnivores that eat plants, fruits, insects and vertebrates, such as rodents and lizards.