Dinosaurs of Costa Rica: Kura’s Coolest Reptiles


The original Juarssic Park was set in Costa Rica and, although you won’t find any tyrannosaurus rex roaming the forests outside your jungle villa, you will find several interesting reptiles reminiscent of the prehistoric creatures that strutted across the big screen several years ago. Here are a few reptiles to look out for.

Black Ctenosaur


This massive land reptile reaches up to 1.5 meters in length and is often spotted soaking up the sun on rocks, boulders, and fallen trees. It is a greyish brown colour with faded dark grey stripes lining its back that shift colour slightly according to the lizards activity levels and body temperature. The most distinguishable features of the black ctenosaur, however, are its long tail, which is covered in sharp spines and its feet, which boast massive claws.

The black ctenosaur moves between sunny and shaded spaces throughout the day in order to regulate its body temperature and will sometimes retreat into deep burrows dug by its clawed feet.

Spectacled Caiman

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This small species is part of the Crocodylidae family and looks like miniature version of its American crocodile cousin. It swims in some of Costa Rica’s rivers and dwells in the waters of certain mangrove forest ecosystems. It’s easy to distinguish from other corcaylidae species thanks to its small size and the bony ridge between its eyes. Another feature that helps it stand out from similar species are its bright white underbelly and golden eyes.

A relatively harmless species, the spectacled caiman spends its time hunting small prey like fish, amphibians, and birds.

Common Basilisk


This curious creature with its large backfins and head crest is one of Costa Rica’s most amazing reptiles. Nicknamed the “Jesus Christ Lizard,” the common basilisk can actually run on water when threatened. When a predator approaches, it runs into the water on its hind legs using its large webbed feet to skim across the surface. At between 10-20m it sinks and starts to swim until there is sufficient distance between it and its predator.

When its not walking on water it can be found basking in the sun near the waters edge or foraging for food in the nearby forest.

Spot any of these guys on your trip to Costa Rica? Post a picture on our Facebook page!

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