About 60 species of Varanus are currently recognized worldwide, and all occur in Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia (the new world is now sadly impoverished, although fossil varanids are known from North America). The largest adaptive radiations have occurred in Australia, where they are commonly known as "goannas," and where about 30 species are found, including one very interesting clade (subgenus Oda-tria) that has evolved dwarfism. The single species of Lan-thanotus is found only in Sarawak in northern Borneo.

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