The Nile monitor lizard (Varanus niloticus) is the largest lizard in Africa, growing up to 2.1 metres long. They are widespread, being found throughout much of Southern Africa, Central and East Africa, as well as more locally in coastal West Africa.
Adult Nile monitor lizards can easily outrun people over short distances. They can also remain underwater for more than an hour. The female Nile monitor lays her clutch of eggs in the active mounds of termites. The heat from the termites acts to incubate the eggs. When they hatch, baby lizards resemble tiny versions of their parents. The mosasaur (from Latin Mosa meaning the ‘Meuse river’, and Greek sauros meaning ‘lizard’), a large, extinct sea monster that disappeared 65 million years ago, is closely related.