Anolis Variations

Yesterday I spent a few hours in the Philipsburg area searching for the Cuban brown anole (Anolis sagrei), which has been seen there. Although I didn’t find it, I did spend a lot of time photographing lizards. The photos below showcase the variations in color and pattern of one of our two native anoles, Anolis gingivinus. The variability in this species is perhaps less striking than that of our other native species Anolis pogus, but is remarkable in its own right. The different looks these lizards achieve are related to maturity and gender, camouflage, control of their body temperature and communication with other lizards.

While these variations are beneficial to the lizards, they can pose a challenge to those who study them. This was particularly true for the first couple centuries of study when most scientists were almost exclusively using dead specimens for their research. Even as late as the 1960s, much research was missing crucial information about both the appearance and behavior of many species. Even today, I would wager there is much to be learned, especially about species in the Lesser Antilles.

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