Most arboreal anoles are green, and for a good reason: it’s hard to pick out a green lizard amidst green vegetation. Yet, some species are more subdued in their coloration, with browns or grays–e.g., Anolis luteogularis from Cuba or Anolis microtus from Costa Rica.
An interesting twist is provided by Cuvier’s anole, the crown-giant of Puerto Rico, in which a polymorphism exists in which most lizards are green, but some are brown-grey. We were reminded of this situation by Alejandro Sanchez, who sent the photo displayed above with the comment that it had been a long time since he’d seen one of these morphs. Contrast that with his spectacular photo of the more common green morph below.
Rivero in his epic Los Anfibios y Reptiles de Puerto Rico notes the polymorphism, but does not provide any explanation or discussion, and I am unaware of any other literature on this subject. Puerto Rican readers out there: what else do we know? Are they definitely different morphs? Someone once whispered in my ear he had seen brown ones turn green, but the only publication of which I’m aware to discuss this phenomenon, Rand and Andrews (1975), says they don’t. But that was based on a very small sample size. Does the gray/brown morph occur throughout the island? Any idea what it’s all about? Any difference in habitat use? As far as I’m aware, the adaptive significance of this polymorphism has never been studied.