Spot the bugwallys!

We have two biology quizzes today. This one is a “spot the. . .” post, but Matthew has a more challenging quiz to follow shortly.

First, what is a bugwally? Reader Michelle Pearce, who sent the photo, explains:

Seen on a recent Turks and Caicos island escape from the cold Canadian winter: spot the curly-tailed lizards! It runs on stilted legs, with its tail curled and off the ground. I found this:

“Turks & Caicos curly-tail (bugwally) Leiocephallus psammodromus: Often heard crashing its way through leaf litter, this active lizard is found only in the Turks & Caicos Islands. DNA research shows that populations on different islands are genetically distinct and there are many subspecies. Locally called bugwally, these lizards feed on berries and insects.”

Can you spot the two bugwalleys (bugwallies)? (One is easy; the other not.) Click to enlarge; reveal at 1 p.m. Chicago time:

And here’s a mystery bird that was in her email. Can you identify it?



  1. Posted January 3, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Got ’em both. That 2nd is pretty hard.

  2. GBJames
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    The 1st was Tre-simple. The second I just stumbled on.

  3. Bernie Grossman
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    A turnstone, either ruddy or black. Just a guess.

  4. Posted January 3, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I’ve never been to the Turks and Caicos, but as a herpetologist specializing in the West Indies I’ve never heard the vernacular name “bugwally”. On Grand Cayman, Leiocephalus are called “lion lizards” or “lime lizards”. I think the original form is lion, and lime developed as a mispronunciation or misinterpretation. (Two similar type of name changes I know from growing up on Long island, New York: dragonflies were called “dining needles”, a corruption of “darning needles”, a far more common vernacular name; and garter snakes were called “garden snakes”, which actually makes sense in terms of where the snakes lived. In both cases a familiar word was substituted for a word that had become less used.)

    And, the generic name is Leiocephalus— meaning “smooth head”– not Leiocephallus, which would have a rather different meaning.

    The bird is a ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres, in winter plumage.

    • Liz
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Growing up, I would always correct people with an over-pronunciation of both words. “It’s garter snake. Not garden snake.” I don’t know that I would correct people like that now. Interesting on the other names.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 3, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        It’s mere speculation, but maybe if you and I had been more diligent we might have stopped these egregious affronts to the language in their traps. 😎

        • Liz
          Posted January 3, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

          I’ll guess we’ll just have to keep fighting the good fight.

    • Posted January 3, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      notice the plastic pollution? That green stuff is the sort of plastic used the secure loads on palettes…

    • Joseph O’Sullivan
      Posted January 3, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      I grew up on Long Island too and those are local names for dragonflies and garter snakes. I’m going with ruddy turnstone for the bird too.

  5. Posted January 3, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    The bird looks very much like a Turnstone – in winter dress – Arenaria interpres… or a closely allied species.

    • Posted January 3, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      We get them wintering in Norfolk…

  6. Posted January 3, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Now why do these lizards run around with their tails in the air like they just don’t care?

  7. nicky
    Posted January 3, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Well I think I see a kind of lizard and although I do not see long legs I guess it is the bugwally.
    The bird -I agree with the commenters above-is a turnstone, a non-breeding ruddy one.

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