Varanus (Merrem 1820) extant, over 70 species 12 to 300 cm was derived from a sister to Gymnophthalmus and Eolacertaand phylogenetically preceded Aigialosaurus, Adriosaurus. Varanus was a sister to Heloderma.
Distinct from Eolacerta, the skull of Varanus has a longer rostrum with elongated nares on the dorsal margin. The orbit is large or small depending on species. The jugal is reduced to a sliver, often not contacting the postorbital. The parietal is pinched and the frontals are narrower. The nasals are extremely reduced to a dorsal strip separating the very large nares.The teeth are longer, sharper and recurved. In dorsal view the snout is a broader U-shape. The quadrate is not convex anteriorly. The mandible curves upward at its tip. The retroarticular process is longer.
The cervicals are large and robust, creating a longer neck. The dorsals have relatively smaller neural spines.
The forelimbs are longer. Manual digit IV is relatively shorter and all the unguals are larger.
The ilium has a larger anterior process in some species. The anterior ischium curls anteriorly in some species.