My new neighbour Alison, accompanied by her daughter Clare (actually, it was the other way round) popped round this afternoon, Clare anxious to show me the contents of her jamjar: a lizard-type creature about an inch long. I am flattered that they think that I know everything about Nature, and I don't want to lose face in front of a twelve-year old, so I put on my serious face (not easy when you are shirtless and in shorts from which two white legs descend like bits of knotted string}, and peered into the jar. Well, I do know enough to know that it was a lizard and not a newt, and I do know enough to know that it will be a common lizard. So I pronounce on it.
We discuss, we ruminate, we speculate, and then comes the dreaded moment: "Are the babies born live, or do common lizards lay eggs, like crocodiles?" At least I know that it isn't a baby crocodile, but after that, the bloom fades on my cheek, or rather the reverse. Then I notice the scientific name in the book: Zootoca vivipara. A pretty good clue there, I think you will agree.