Novel Environments: The ‘Fancy Dress’ Party

Anole masks. Note: The dewlaps looked a lot pinker under natural light!

Organisms that colonize a new landmass are often faced with strange environments and selection pressures. Biologists are no exception. Having quasi-recently emigrated to England, I can tell you that, from a North American perspective, the UK can be pretty strange. One of the novelties, along with saying ‘Ta’ and not heating buildings, is the ‘fancy dress’ party. If you’re American or Canadian, then ‘fancy dress’ probably conjures images of black tie, tails and sherry (Downton Abbey anyone?). But no. ‘Fancy Dress’ is when otherwise regular people don ridiculous costumes and drink a lot (wait, that does sound like Downton Abbey). The reasons behind this custom (the dressing up, not the drinking) are unknown to me. Maybe it’s because there’s no Halloween and thus no annual outlet for looking like an idiot?

Anyway, the point is that this year, our departmental party’s theme was Noah’s Ark. Of course, this left us with only one option. If the world’s going to flood, then we’d better be sure there’s a pair of anoles on board. After all, think of the opportunity for radiation when the waters recede. All it took was a little duct tape, papier-mâché, paint, an artistic spouse and voila, Anolis masks! Of course, I can’t believe that I’m the only one who has ever attempted an anole costume – anyone else have any pics to share of their efforts?

About Adam Algar

Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham (UK). My research focuses on niche limits and dynamics across scales, from individual organisms to the globe. Mostly lizards.

3 thoughts on “Novel Environments: The ‘Fancy Dress’ Party

  1. Great. These unique pair of Anoles would be safe during the journey if they dont look like food to the other guests (may be because the potential hunters were drunk or they were enjoying fancy food!).

  2. Good species choice. I know of at least one anole costume from years ago. Not sure if a picture exists.

    The dewlap had to be extended by hand. It wasn’t constitutively expressed like yours, which, I imagine, started a lot of unintentional territorial bouts.

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