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Friday, February 28, 2003

Toad, Lizard May Crawl Onto State Creatures List

The Associated Press
    SANTA FE A toad and a lizard would join a lengthy list of official state creatures, from a wasp to a trout, under a measure unanimously endorsed by the House on Thursday.
    The bill would designate the New Mexico whiptail lizard as the official state reptile and the spadefoot toad as the official amphibian.
    The legislation also would make the Sandia hairstreak the official state butterfly. The House has passed a separate proposal on the butterfly.
    Supporters said the butterfly was added to the bill to ensure that it, the reptile and amphibian have an equal chance of winning final approval in the Legislature.
    Finally, the bill will correct a mistake made several years ago and restore the official nickname of New Mexico, "the Land of Enchantment." It was accidentally deleted when a section of law was amended.
    The legislation unanimously passed the House and was sent to the Senate.
    Rep. William "Ed" Boykin, R-Las Cruces, said the New Mexico Herpetological Society conducted a survey to determine which reptile and amphibian should be selected as official state symbols.
    He said the New Mexico whiptail lizard Cnemidophorus neomexicanus is one of 13 species of whiptail lizards and its range is mostly within the state.
    "As we all learned as kids, it does replace its tail if it loses it," Boykin said.
    The toad grows to about 2.5 inches long as an adult. It emerges from underground during summer monsoon rains, Boykin said.
    New Mexico has designated many official state symbols, including the chaparral bird, or roadrunner, as the official bird and the tarantula hawk wasp as the official insect.