Here’s one for you to Marvel:

Enter our new favourite lizard, the red-headed rock agama (Agama mwanzae) – a reptile that's paying some serious arachnid homage by sporting a scaly Spidey suit.

Spidey Lizard_5_08_05_2014
Image: Giordos/Flickr
Spidey Lizard_4_08_05_2014
Image: Richard Smith/Flickr

Endemic to East Africa, this agama (also known as the Mwanza flat-headed rock agama) can be spotted on rocky outcrops and will often shelter in the spaces between large boulders. In developed areas, they tend to hide in the cracks of iron roofs or mud walls. Agamids are robust reptiles and the red-headed rock agama is no exception. With a short body, and long limbs and toes, they are able to scale vertical walls with ease.

Spidey Lizard_1_08_05_2014
Image: David D'Oh/Flickr
Spidey Lizard_2_08_05_2014
Image: Kibuyu/Flickr

Unlike some agamids (there are over 350 species in the family), this split-toned beauty is known to hang in groups. Scientists from Nottingham Trent University observed 20 juveniles and adults emerging from a single crack each morning, suggesting that they return to the same territory each night. 

Scientists speculate that these lizards may have been forced into a congregatory (gathered together) lifestyle due to a limited number of crevasses to hide in, but as many heroes and heroines have taught us, there are serious benefits to teaming up. For our 'Spideys', sticking together means it's easier to generate heat at night and to escape predation during the day.

Spidey Lizard_composite_08_05_2014
Images: Top: Ricky Brigante/Flickr, Bottom: Ke1jzer/Flickr

Each group has one dominant male (the 'cock lizard') that will develop this amazing comic-book colouration to attract females and to ward off males from rival territories. Like the females and juveniles, some males choose to keep their colouring quiet. Most often observed in shades of olive green, grey, and purple, these nondescript males are the only other males permitted to stay within the group. 

Incoming threats are met with "swift, agressive head-bobbing motions," followed by a battle of beauty – in a clash, the brightest male will always come out on top.

Spidey Lizard_3_08_05_2014
Image: lorytravelforever/Flickr, used with permission
spiderman lizard_7_8_5_2014
Image: Jambo53/Flickr, used with permission

With the cock lizard standing guard, the rest of the group is free to bask and feed. In true spider form, agamas are serious insect-munchers. But unlike most real spiders, this arachnid-impersonating lizard has been known to supplement its diet with succulents, herbs and flowers.

With so many different agamas out there, it’s no surprise that this species isn’t the only one boasting iconic colours … Darth Maul anyone?