Photo by Stephanie Smith, who came across this amazing animal, apparently dead, this morning. About 3.5 inches long.
More info on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) from digital-desert.com:
…Perhaps the horned lizard’s best defense mechanism is its disruptive or cryptic coloration, which is so similar to their background they become indistinguishable from it. This is partly due to its ability to change its own color to match its background environment. Its flat profile helps prevent shadows that might be detected by an observant predator, such as a hawk flying overhead or a coyote patrolling the ground. Most predators would have difficulty grabbing these lizards because of their horns. They are known to swivel their head back in attempts to stab the hand which grasps.
When threatened by animals like the coyote, the Coast Horned Lizard can shoot a small stream of blood from its eyes. This is how it happens: the horned lizard increases the blood pressure in its head; when the pressure increases, tiny blood vessels in the corner of eyes rupture and blood shoots out, sometimes as far as four feet. This provides a moment of distraction and allows the lizard to get away.