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The Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) is the largest lizard in the United States, and one of the few species of venomous lizard in the world. It has a stocky body with a large head and a short, fat tail. The skin consists of many round, bony scales, a feature that was common amongst the dinosaurs but is unusual in today's reptiles. Gila monsters have a striking bright pink and black colouration and the two subspecies can be distinguished by their different patterns; the banded Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum cinctum) has a band of light markings along the back whilst in the reticulated Gila monster (H. s. suspectum) these light marks are joined in a network. With their venomous bite and elusive nature, these lizards have inspired many myths over the centuries.

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