Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


The skin of reptiles is a complex organ with many sensory, regulatory and behavioral functions. Desert reptiles face a suite of challenges as their skin contacts hot-dry environmental surfaces. The marbled whiptail lizard, Cnemidophorus marmoratus (Lacertilia: Teiidae), is found in hot deserts of southeastern New Mexico and western Texas and is often above ground during the hottest times of the day. When active, these lizards encounter a broad range and intensity of visible and infrared wavelengths. The role of the integument in temperature regulation, although poorly understood, is critically important for these diurnal animals. Albedo, coloration, pattern, and in some circumstances color change, may be determined by placement and orientation of three distinct types of dermal chromatophores (xanthophores, iridophores, and melanophores). Here electron microscopy, brightfield microscopy, and reflectance spectroscopy is used to examine some of the structural-functional relationships of the chromatophores of these lizards with particular attention to the crystal containing iridophore.


Animal Sciences | Medical Sciences