Anole March Madness: Elite 8 reduced to Final 4!

Anole MM16

The third round of our (fictional) anole tournament is now complete. We started with 32, and now there are 4.

Here’s what you missed in the Elite 8 round: Anolis aquaticus proves he’s in it to win it when he battles Anolis limifronsAnolis proboscis wonders what his proboscis is good for as he battles the giant Anolis frenatus; Anolis equestris shows Anolis porcus who the king of the jungle is; and the big-cat-lizards Anolis marmoratus (AKA Leopard Anole) and Anolis bimaculatus (AKA Panther Anole) face off.

Winner match 17 (Anolis aquaticus) versus winner match 18 (Anolis limifrons)
Missing half a tail from his recent encounter with Anolis cupreus, our plucky Anolis limifrons has been nursing his wounds in the comfort of his little paradise. His bonded female remains in their territory. Usually limifrons like semi-open or disturbed habitat, but this little grove near a stream was too tempting to pass up. The water brings loads of insects, and A. limifrons feels at peace in this watery smorgasboard. However, a fellow resident of this streamside habitat, Anolis aquaticus, is not happy to encounter a new neighbor. The male and female A. limifrons display at each other, asserting their bond and their mutual territory. Their displays enrage A. aquaticus, who considers all near-water habitats in this part of the woods to be his exclusive domain. He leaps onto a prominent boulder – A. aquaticus has a penchant for them – and turns to the side so that the limifrons pair can see how large he is. He slowly extends his large dewlap – red and orange with white streaks – and showcases his considerable size. He has 1.5 cm on A. limifrons, and is much heftier. Anolis limifrons, emboldened by his recent victories against larger anoles, decides he’s healed and ready for another battle. He returns A. aquaticus’ dewlaps with vigorous displays of his own. Anolis aquaticus escalates his displays, and begins to approach A. limifrons. Recklessly, A. limifrons lunges towards A. aquaticus. Anticipating the assault, A. aquaticus lands a brutal bite to A. limifrons’ flank. Anolis aquaticus packs a pretty strong bite, and A. limifrons is injured. Nonetheless, he musters some strength and delivers a bite to A. aquaticus’ neck, catching the dewlap in his teeth, as well. But A. aquaticus maintains the pressure and A. limifrons realizes he is losing this fight and is sustaining injury. He lets go and hobbles off. Anolis aquaticus gives chase, sending the little anole into the leaf litter. The female has long since left, searching for a new territory and a new mate. ***Anolis aquaticus wins***

Winner match 19 (Anolis proboscis) versus winner match 20 (Anolis frenatus)
Anolis proboscis waggled his snout happily. This pinocchio anole has ventured a little north of his usual range, but was finding nothing more alarming than few strange insects which he had promptly consumed. He meandered over to a nearby clearing to observe the general excitement of the rainforest around him. He even displayed to a few interspecific females, but they seemed to find his protruding nose alarming. With the possibilities of a hybridization event low, he hid at the base of a nearby tree, almost completely camouflaged in the colorful leaves. At this moment, Anolis frenatus, tired of her solitary reflection in the canopy, decides to descend to the forest floor. As she reaches the bottom of the tree, she notices a very strange object poking out of some leaves to her left. A. proboscis, in his anxiety to hide, forgot to conceal his magnificent horn, which trembled in fear as A. frenatus came closer to investigate. A. frenatus decides that the funny object is probably edible and decides to take a nibble. A. proboscis suddenly feels the full weight of A. frenatus’ jaws upon his beloved ornament and yowls in pain; springing out, he uses his prehensile tail to curl around the neck of A. frenatus and jerk her backwards. A. frenatus is unsure what type of creature has attacked her, given the strange appearance of A. proboscis, but still wants to eat whatever it may be. She suddenly twirls, loosening the grip of A. proboscis’ tail around her neck and lunging with full force and jaws open. A. proboscis tries to run, but she snaps at his most easily accessible characteristic, his horn, and bites it off. Anolis proboscis gives up and takes off into the trees, using the his tail to cling to branches as he frantically flees for safety, devastated by the loss of his ornament. Anolis frenatus, satisfied by her snack, digests peacefully, meditating on the risky nature of range expansions. ***Anolis frenatus wins***

Winner match 21 (Anolis equestris) versus winner match 22 (Anolis porcus)
Somewhere in Cuba two monsters are about to clash. Our story begins high up in the canopy where a large Anolis equestris moves along the branches that span her large territory. In this species females have home ranges as large as males and are also quite territorial. She spots her favorite branch and ambles over. As she approaches she notices an unexpected lump on the tree – Anolis porcus. This male A. porcus is well camouflaged against the tree bark, but the A. equestris sees the lizard and knows that a usurper in her territory. This cannot stand. Her temper flares and she puffs herself up in warning. Massive to begin with, she is positively terrifying in this aspect. Anolis porcus, still foolishly hoping he’s blending in, remains still. When he realizes he’s been spotted, he attempts to walk away using his typical rocking motion. But A. equestris is not satisfied. She pursues, headbobbing vigorously. Anolis porcus turns and opens his mouth, ready to bite, but equestris is utterly unimpressed. She is considerably larger and more aggressive. She lunges at A. porcus who, for his size and shape, is surprisingly agile. He deftly swings out of her way and attempts to land a bite on her flank. He grabs a forelimb instead, and A. equestris turns and plants a bite on A. porcus’ cask. He flails, and A. equestris momentarily loses her grip. Anolis porcus attempts, again, to flee, but equestris is having none of it. She chases down A. porcus and delivers a powerful bite to his neck. A passing bird distracts A. equestris long enough for porcus to get away and run down the trunk as quickly as possible and find a perch somewhere else, hopefully where no knight anoles lurk. The massive Anolis equestris, at long last, gets to her favorite perch and basks in the sunshine of her victory. ***Anolis equestris wins***

Winner match 23 (Anolis marmoratus) versus winner match 24 (Anolis bimaculatus)
Basking in the morning sun, Anolis marmoratus surveys his territory. He flashes his yellow-orange dewlap, almost lazily, to remind the nearby anoles that he retains control over his flamboyant tree. To his surprise, he sees a dewlap – also yellow-orange – in response. The dewlap belongs to a much larger anole, Anolis bimaculatus, who challenges A. marmoratus for his fertile territory. The panther anole approaches the leopard anole and these big cats prepare for battle. They raise their nuchal crests and size each other up. Anolis marmoratus knows he is outmatched in size and strength, but feels confident in his home field advantage. Anolis bimaculatus knows he is considerably larger, and wants the flamboyant tree for himself. He charges at A. marmoratus, chasing the smaller lizard up the trunk and onto the upper branches. The chase seems like a continuous flash of blue, green, and orange as these jewel-toned anoles dash around the tree. Anolis bimaculatus is quite comfortable in the canopy and dances gracefully among the limbs. The game of cat and cat ends abruptly as A. bimaculatus grabs one of A. marmoratus’ hindlimbs in his massive maw. Anolis marmoratus rears, attempting to bite at A. bimaculatus, but the panther anole bites first, landing a strong blow to A. marmoratus’ flank. Anolis marmoratus nips at A. bimaculatus’ face, and wriggles free of the panther’s deadly embrace. He flees across the branches, realizing he is no match for this massive anole. “No wonder,” he thinks, “that there are no Lesser Antillean islands with medium-sized anoles like me and large-sized anoles like him. How does schwartzii put up with such company?” With his pursuer hot on his heels, A. marmoratus makes a desperate leap to a nearby limb, misses, and falls to the ground. He dashes off, knowing A. bimaculatus will not pursue. Anolis bimaculatus, never doubting the outcome of this battle, strides to a large branch and dewlaps, letting all know that the panther is stronger than the leopard. ***Anolis bimaculatus wins***


So the final four are: Anolis aquaticus representing Central America versus Anolis frenatus representing South America, Anolis equestris representing the Greater Antilles versus Anolis bimaculatus representing the Lesser Antilles!

About Kristin Winchell

I'm a Ph.D. candidate at UMass Boston in the Revell lab. I am interested in how animals respond to urbanization from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. My dissertation research has focused on adaptive shifts in the Puerto Rican crested anole, Anolis cristatellus, in response to urbanization. Website:

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