World-Renowned Lizard Expert Eric Pianka to Appear on Nova’s “Lizard Kings”

Oct. 19, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — Lizard expert and University of Texas at Austin Professor Eric Pianka served as chief science adviser and will appear on an upcoming Nova documentary about monitor lizards called "Lizard Kings."

Eric Pianka
Dr. Eric Pianka holds a monitor lizard in Australia. The photo was taken during filming of "Lizard Kings," a Nova documentary. Photo: Gisela Kaufmann.

Pianka, often referred to as the "Lizard Man," has spent a lifetime studying the evolution and ecology of monitor, or varanid, lizards.

Some monitor lizards are the largest lizards to walk the planet. With their acute intelligence—including the ability to plan ahead—these lizards are a very different kind of reptile, blurring the line between reptiles and mammals.

"Lizard Kings" will air on PBS on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. (CST) and will look at what makes monitor lizards so similar to mammals and what has allowed them to become unique survivors.

The show will follow expert lizard hunter Pianka as he tracks the elusive creatures through Australia's heartland with cutting-edge "lizard cam" technology for an unparalleled close encounter with these amazingly versatile "living dragons."

Much of Pianka's research has occurred in Australia, home to monitor lizards as large as the six-foot-long perentie (Varanus giganteus) and as small as the eight-inch-long pygmy monitor (Varanus brevicauda). The giant Komodo dragon of Indonesia is also a varanid lizard.

Pianka is the Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professor in Zoology in the Section of Integrative Biology. He has written several books on lizards, including: "The Lizard Man Speaks" (1994), "Lizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity" (2003) with L. J. Vitt, and "Varanoid Lizards of the World" (2004) with D.R. King.

Watch "Lizard Kings" online.

For more information, contact: Lee Clippard, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 512-232-0104.

5 Comments to "World-Renowned Lizard Expert Eric Pianka to Appear on Nova’s “Lizard Kings”"

1.  thomas cuny said on Oct. 21, 2009

Where can I buy a lizard cam?

2.  andres said on Oct. 24, 2009

Bien por el profesor Eric Pianka. Soy gran admirador del profesor Pianka.

3.  chris said on Jan. 7, 2010

Hi, I've got an unknown lizard from one of my teachers, and I don't know what kind it is. Do you think you could help me out? Maybe I could send you a picture of it? Can you please help me?

Chris

4.  Goran said on Aug. 16, 2011

Hi, I've got an unknown lizard I found it and I don't know what kind it is. Do you think you could help me out? Maybe I could send you a picture of it? Can you please help me?

5.  Aubree said on April 25, 2012

I have a school project and I need a lizard expert for it and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions? Thanks so much,
Aubree