Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with over 6,000 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica, as well as most oceanic island chains. The group is paraphyletic as it excludes the snakes which are also squamates.
Lizards typically have four legs feet and external ears, though some are legless, while snakes lack both of these characteristics. Lizards and snakes share a movable quadrate bone, distinguishing them from the sphenodonts, which have more primitive and solid diapsid skulls.
Lizards form about 60% of all the species of extant non-avian reptiles.
Lizard tails are often a different and dramatically more vivid color than the rest of the body so as to encourage potential predators to strike for the tail first. Many lizards, including geckos and skinks, are capable of shedding part of their tails through a process called autotomy. This is an example of the pars pro toto principle, sacrificing "a part for the whole", and is employed by lizards to allow them to escape from predators.
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