Petra’s azure lizard

Abby reports on an unexpected sighting…

A few weeks ago, I went to Petra with my fellow interns. Our goal was to see the ruins of this ancient city and hopefully to see some rare plants.  We wandered the wadis and ancient paths searching for elusive endangered species of flora.

Then! Suddenly a flash of blue! I was curious, here in the wadis we had seen so many shades of red, brown, white, even pink, but no blue. I approached for a closer look. Then to my utter astonishment, a brilliant azure lizard jumped to the top of a red rock. He stared regally down his pointy nose at me and reared on his hind legs. Staring in astonishment, I froze in awe. Never before had I seen a lizard this blue. He looked as if he was carved from living sapphire. He was clearly upset that I was trespassing in his home. I slowly  withdrew from this magnificent creature’s territory.

As I backed away he relaxed and turned, as if showing off his magnificent scaly body. He was about 7 inches long, his tail was longer than his body, and he had impressive clawed feet. His body was a dull brown with a purple tinge. Later I was to learn that during breeding season his whole body would turn the same brilliant blue. The deep red rock contrasted beautifully with his lovely coloration.

petra blue lizard

Coming to Petra, I had been astounded by the magnificent ruins, awestruck by the ageless wadis, and astonished by the windswept desert. I had eagerly anticipated the timeless ruins of an era long gone, but the lizard was a complete surprise in this arid land. This Sinai Agama was truly just as amazing as the ruins themselves and a creature that I will never forget.