Phrynosoma platyrhinos Desert Horned Lizard
Lost Palms Oasis Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County, CaliforniaJune 21, 1998
Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
This beautifully camouflaged lizard was just a foot or so off the trail. We would have walked right by but it moved slightly. Then it sat oh-so-still while we oohed and ahed and photographed.
Desert Tortoise Natural Area, Kern County, CaliforniaMay 29, 1999
Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
This little charmer waddled into the protective cover of bush when it caught me getting my camera out. Then it wriggled its flattened body from side to side in an attempt to bury itself in the sand. But there wasn't much sand, so it basically just added a little dead grass to its already excellent camouflage.
Alabama Hills, Inyo County, CaliforniaJune 5, 2001
Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
My wife was driving necessarily slowly along a bumpy dirt road while I watched the common zebra-tailed lizards, whiptails, and spiny lizards race across the road. One of the little racers seemed rounder, slower, and, well, more horned-lizardy than the others, so I sensibly yelled "Stop! Stop! STOPSTOPSTOPSTOP!". My wife managed to stop without sending any of our dogs through the windshield, and I leaped out of the car and ran back to where I thought my suspicious lizard had gone. Sure enough, this little camouflaged beauty was hiding out under a bush hoping I wouldn't notice him. But I did.
Ivins, Washington County, UtahAugust 30, 2001
Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
Speaking of camouflage, the desert rocks and sand in the southwestern tip of Utah are deep red, so the horned lizards are deep red to match. This youngster was nearly invisible when it wasn't moving.
Lee's Ferry, Coconino County, ArizonaApril 30, 2005
Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
Here's another red-rock camouflaged desert horned lizard. This one dined on a large ant nest very close to the historic buildings at Lee's Ferry, at the start of the Grand Canyon.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County, CaliforniaJuly 3, 2006
Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
At about 7:00 PM, I was driving on one of the main roads through the park. A light drizzle had been falling for a couple of hours until about twenty minutes earlier, which had kept the herps in hiding; I hadn't seen a single lizard during that while interval (the horror!). So when I caught a glimpse of what seemed to be a pale lizard form on a rock at the side of the road as I passed it, I immediately pulled over, turned around, and went back for a better look. My first thought was that it would probably turn out to be just a side-blotched lizard, since it looked small and side-blotched lizards are by far the most common small lizards in the area. When I recognized it as a horned lizard, I was thrilled since (as everybody knows) horned lizards are among the world's finest lizards.

I found it remarkable how closely the lizard's pattern matches the rock. Its camouflage would be nearly perfect to a color-blind observer.

near California City, Kern County, CaliforniaJune 17, 2012
Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
Near California City the horned lizards tend to have a pretty mixture of orange, white, and black, which makes them practically disappear against the gravelly desert floor.
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