When Do Green Anoles Develop Their Red Dewlap Color?

Not red yet (or maybe not a male)

Adam Freedman is spearheading an effort to identify the genes responsible for anole dewlap color. He’s looking for information on the ontogeny of color in male green anoles, i.e., when the red first appears in a juvenile male. Here’s what he has to say: “In our ongoing work on the genetic basis of dewlap pigmentation, we are looking to investigate changes of gene expression as pigmentation emerges in juvenile male A. carolinensis. However, we do not have any information as to approximately how long after hatching red/pink pigment starts to be visible on the throat, even if perhaps the dewlap has yet to fully form. Does anyone have any information from following hatchlings that could inform our efforts?”

Can anyone help?

About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

3 thoughts on “When Do Green Anoles Develop Their Red Dewlap Color?

  1. Although I haven’t worked with ontogenetic series of A. carolinensis, I have worked extensively with another red dewlapped species, A. marcanoi. In A. marcanoi the red on the dewlap appears to develop very early in development. I have caught juveniles no more than a few days old and their rudimentary dewlaps already have a dark red coloration. If A. carolinensis works anything like A. marcanoi, I’d say pigmentation starts very early in development, but I’d be interested to know what other researchers have found.

    1. This is consistent with most species I’ve seen in the wild. Even very young hatchlings have some color if they are males.

  2. In A. distichus, you start seeing colour on the throat before the dewlap forms. I don’t think I have any records of the actual age but I think around a month old. Certainly by 2-3 months, you start seeing the actual coloured dewlap forming. Before breeding distichus, I had started trying to breed A. carolinensis, but that was a bit of a failure and I don’t think we got any individuals surviving to the stage to determine whether pink can be seen on the throat before the dewlap forms.

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