Category Archives: Anole Videos

Female Brown Anole Inspecting Nest Pot

It is not new to most of us that female lizards choose between different nest sites (e.g. Shine & Harlow, 1996; Warner & Andrews, 2002), anoles included (Socci et al., 2005; Reedy et al., 2012 – covered on Anole Annals). But what is new to me is how females assess soil characteristics to decide where to lay their eggs.

Brown anoles in an intimate moment.

Brown anoles in an intimate moment.

For context, I recently started to breed brown anoles in the lab for the first time. I’m using large vertical screen cages in an outdoor set up, which I believe makes them pretty comfortable to keep their daily anole life. There have been lots of  male-male interactions (displaying and serious fights), mating and nesting.

A few days ago I started to notice females head down in the nests pots, breathing heavily from time to time. I wondered if they were inspecting the nest pots before laying and shared a video on Twitter. They take a long time in that position, which made me really curious to know how they assess their chosen nest-site characteristics. Let me know if you know more about it. Posted above is the video I uploaded to youtube.

I feel so lucky to be able to observe all these cool behaviors and I hope to share some more soon!

Anolis sagrei Plays Dead

In q previous post, Hispanioland showed us a picture of the fake dead behavior by Anolis distichus. This year I breed my pair of Anolis sagrei and I have several offspring.

I can see that this behavior is rather common among the offspring, and I partially filmed it in the following video. I didn’t see the same behavior in my other anoles species. Maybe only for trunk-ground species?

In which species have you seen this behavior ?

In this case, the offspring begins to stiffen, twists and falls to the ground. Then, he opens his mouth and stops breathing. The limbs are tense as a dead person. When the young are put back to safety (some seconds later), the individual “awakes.”



Anolis maynardi Male-Male Territorial Bout

This video was filmed and shared by Jen Moss of the Welch Lab at Mississippi State University. She observed the encounter near Preston Bay, Little Cayman, and it’s a great video showing this behavior. Lots of dewlaps, pushups, and potential exposure to predators owing to the use of a non-natural substrate. Thanks Jen!


20-Million-Year-Old Fossils Reveal Ecomorph Diversity in Hispaniola


Twenty exquisitely preserved anole fossils in 20 My old Dominican Amber have been reported on in a paper out in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week.

Previously on AA, I reported that the search was on to find anole fossils in order to piece together the anole family tree. We were extremely fortunate to find in the end 38 amber fossils with anole inclusions, sourced from museums such as the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart, Germany, American Museum of Natural History, and Naturhistorisches Museum, Basel Switzerland, as well as from generous private collectors.

All of the fossils were exquisite, stunningly-preserved anoles in Dominican Amber. Sometimes just a foot or tail was preserved, sometimes a whole limb or two, or an isolated head, but occasionally a whole lizard was preserved laid out as if it has been pressed into resin just moments before.

Modified from Figure 1 of Sherratt et al. 2015 PNAS.

Modified from Figure 1 of Sherratt et al. 2015 PNAS.

Using micro-CT scanning to peer inside the fossils, we were delighted to find well-preserved skulls and skeletons. We were surprised to find that many of the amber pieces had air-filled pockets representing where the lizard body had once been (but subsequently mostly rotted away), and the scales had left their impression on the amber. This allowed us to view the scales of the limbs and toepads in the greatest of detail.

The forelimb lying atop belly scales of a trunk-ground fossil, specimen M of Sherratt et al. 2015.

The forelimb lying atop belly scales of a trunk-ground fossil, specimen M of Sherratt et al. 2015.

Twenty of these fossils were complete enough, or preserved with the right body parts (limbs with a pelvis, or toepads with countable lamellar scales) to study qualitatively. I micro-CT scanned 100 modern specimens from the Harvard MCZ collection, representing adults and juveniles of all the ecomorphs in Hispaniola. With these data, I build up a dataset of measurements of the limbs, skulls and pelvic girdles that could be used to compare with the fossils. Working fossil by fossil, I used discriminant function analysis to assess the probability that the fossil matched each of the modern ecomorphs.

The fossil twig anole, from Jose Calbeto of Puerto Rico.

The fossil twig anole, from Jose Calbeto of Puerto Rico.

The results were very exciting. We found evidence for four of the six ecomorphs in the amber. Trunk-crown were the most abundant, but there was also one that fell within the twig anoles, two that fell with trunk and two with trunk-ground anoles. Not all the fossils could be assigned to an ecomorph with high probability. Though, my gut feeling is that there is a second twig anole (specimen P) based on the distinct few lamellar scales on its widely-expanded toepads, but sadly it didn’t have enough skeleton and no hind limbs preserved to add to the analysis.

We didn’t find any fossils that resembled crown-giants or grass-bush anoles. Why? Continue reading 20-Million-Year-Old Fossils Reveal Ecomorph Diversity in Hispaniola

Anolis punctatus Mating and Feeding

Now for another story from the rainforests of eastern Ecuador. While I was passing through camp on my way to lunch at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, I stumbled across this pair of Anolis punctatus mating only about five and a half feet above the ground on a small tree. I don’t know when they began, but they disbanded about five minutes after I found them. I probably had something to do with this as the male displayed immediately after separating from the female which you can see below.

Interestingly, the male seems to have a piece of debris stuck in his eye, which he eventually flicks out of his eye at the 40 second mark after mating. Another interesting note is that I spotted the same female (identified by dorsal spot patterning) in the same tree one day earlier where it was perched much higher on a thin branch covered with leaves.

Before I could contemplate what misstep I took in my life that brought me to sit and record the act of two lizards copulating on video, I was preoccupied with watching what this pair would do next. The male split after two hours when he was disturbed by a passing scientist. Prior to disappearing into the canopy he displayed a few times and ate an unidentified insect.

Post-coital "Anolis punctatus" malePost-coital "Anolis punctatus" female

A photoshoot took place after the act. The piece of debris is still visible on the male’s face.

The female stuck around longer and quite low to the ground the entire time. After a few hours she started foraging by perching on Heliconia stems, running into a small patch of leaf litter to retrieve an insect and then returning to another stalk to eat her meal and then stake out the next. I can’t make out what arthropods she was eating, but notice how she gives a few slight head motions throughout (notably at 0:42 and 1:09). This may have been a motion to aid in swallowing food, but I’ve also seen the same female and one other perform this movement outside of the foraging contexts  which leads me to believe it’s a headbob.

Thanks for watching!

Amazonian Anole Displays

The last time I was on Anole Annals, I posted about the peculiar display of Anolis ortonii from the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in eastern Ecuador. Nearly two years later, I was lucky enough to return to the area for another month and bring back some more videos of Amazonian anoles. Unfortunately I never saw Anolis trachyderma or A.chrysolepis show off their dewlaps, but here are three other species.

First up is Anolis fuscoauratus. I didn’t encounter many individuals of this species compared to my first trip, perhaps the differences in seasonality are to blame. I luckily shot this footage only a few days before leaving.

Next is Anolis punctatus, which was surprisingly abundant. I’ll be posting more videos of A. punctatus later as I was lucky enough to observe many other behaviors, but here is the display of at least three different individuals. All of these lizards were found high up in the canopy except for the second to last clip.

Finally, while not as visibly abundant as its cousin, I was fortunate to come across Anolis transversalis. I was photographing some Plica plica on a large ficus, when this lizard descended and scampered across the buttress roots. Eventually it jumped onto an adjacent thin tree and displayed a few times before climbing higher into the canopy.

But this story ends on a sad note. Four days later I was around the same tree when an anole ran down the trunk with an insect in its mouth.

I assume it was the same individual from the other day given the same location, but I can’t be sure. This time he was displaying more vigorously before his arrogance got the best of him. While I was adjusting my camera to get closer a bird swooped in and when I looked up there was no lizard. I never saw A. transversalis on that tree again.

(Anolis transversalis)

Rest In Peace

Video of Running Trunk-Ground Anole Needed

I’m looking for a bit of help and where else to turn than the dedicated readers of Anole Annals? Does anyone have a short video clip (ca. 10 seconds) of a trunk-ground anole running on either the ground or a trunk that they’d be willing to share? I’d like to use it for a couple of upcoming talks, and for teaching. Proper credit would, of course, be given. Plus I’ll buy you a beer if you ever happen to be in Nottingham. I’ve got a few short clips of sagrei but unfortunately the frame rate went screwy when I tried to convert them, hence the appeal. The point is to contrast a trunk-ground’s movement with this clip of carolinensis (shot by Leslie Bode on the Anhinga Trail, Everglades, FL):

If you have something suitable that you’re willing to share, please either leave a comment, or you can email or tweet me (adam.algar[at], @acalgar).


Aquatic Anole Displaying

Here at AA, we seem to have an obsession, hopefully healthy, for a few things: knight anoles, anoles and water, and big dewlaps. And here’s a combination of two of them, a mainland aquatic anole displaying its enormous dewlap. Wowwee! It’s big and beautiful. What is it with mainland anoles and their big throat fans? This is a youtube video posted by MrKbosker, identified as A. aquaticus.

And not to be outdone, InBio, the Costa Rican biodiversity institute, brings us this mellifluous footage of A. polylepis strutting its stuff.

The Fossil Species Anolis electrum Gets an X-ray Makeover

AA readers may remember from previous AA blog posts (here and here) that we have been tackling the field of anole palaeontology; the wonderful world of Amber Encased Anoles. This month, the first paper has been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, on the Mexican amber fossil  Anolis electrum (from the collection of UC Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley). And what a fossil!

The amber fossil (left) and x-ray CT reconstruction (right) of one half of the Mexican amber fossil, Anolis electrum.

The amber fossil (left) and x-ray CT reconstruction (right) of one of the two Mexican amber fossils of Anolis electrum. An ant (Azteca sp.) lies behind the right hindfoot. Part of the torso is also preserved (bottom of image). Morphobank images M323739 & M323741.

Continue reading The Fossil Species Anolis electrum Gets an X-ray Makeover

Anolis ortonii Displaying

I had the opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador last year, an amazing experience which culminated in a one-month stay in the rainforest at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station located in Yasuni Biosphere Reserve.  The most common species of anole there was Anolis ortonii, if you knew where to look. Despite several written accounts of A. ortonii being found close to the ground, I observed them in high abundance about 150 feet in the air at the top of a ceiba tree made accessible by a canopy tower.

My experience with Anolis displays in the wild is next to nothing, but  from what little I’ve seen, this swaying seemed unusual to me. Perhaps the more experienced anolologists here can comment on this. Regardless, enjoy the video of a lesser-known mainland anole!

Film on Haiti Herpetological Exploration to Premiere at Film Festivals

We’ve reported previously on the expedition to Haiti led by Blair Hedges of Penn State that led to the rediscovery of A. darlingtoni as well as many other important herpetological finds. Now a film about this expedition, the sad state of Haiti’s environment and efforts to protect it and its fauna is being showcased at several film festivals around the world.

Extinction in Progress premieres at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C. on March 19th and subsequently will be shown at festivals in Seoul (South Korea), Torino (Italy), Zaragoza (Spain), Goías (Brazil) and Prizren (Kosovo).

extinction in progress

Yes, that’s Anolis rupinae!

Bark Anoles Strutting Their Stuff in Miami

In August of last year, my wife and I made the move from Maryland to Florida so that I could begin my graduate work on signal evolution at the University of Miami. All of my research experience to that point had been centered on avian communication, but it wasn’t long after moving to Miami that my attention was drawn to the massive number of anoles displaying throughout my community. I’ll admit, one year ago my interest in anoles did not go beyond thinking that they were just another cool group of reptiles. However, in the six short months since moving to the area, it will come as no surprise to the Anole Annals community that I am hooked on these fascinating lizards.

This post serves as a friendly hello to everyone here at AA, as well as a quick note of gratitude to all who contribute to making this site such a fun and informative place for all things anole. On that note, I thought it was time I share something myself, and so I’ve included a video I recently recorded of two male bark anoles sizing each other up on a tree near my home. Of course, the video clarity seemed much nicer on my phone, but nonetheless, I hope you all enjoy!

Anolis Allisoni Fight

This is a video from the YouTube channel of the thetravelholics that I stumbled upon a while ago showing two male A. allisoni fighting.


1.The male that had the upper hand turned brown while the losing male remained blue throughout the fight.

2.When the male turned brown some of the skin on the back of his neck remained blue, this is possibly an example of selective color change.

3.Both males had prominent shoulder patches and black patches behind the eyes.

Adapting Anolis: The New Film On Cuban Anoles

In the last year or two, we’ve seen a number of documentaries on Cuban anoles, and here’s another, a 12-minute piece featuring A. equestris, A. vermiculatus, A. ahli (I think), A. sagrei, A. angusticeps, and others. Worth watching, just for the closing line, “There are over 300 anole species in the Caribbean, making the Anolis lizard one of the planet’s most diverse and evolutionarily significant animals.”

Cuban Wildlife Documentary, Starring Anoles

We’ve been privileged to see a number of great videos of Cuban anoles recently [1,2], and here’s another, an hour-long documentary on Cuban wildlife in Spanish entitled “Cuba. La Isla Salvaje del Caribe.” It goes without saying that the anoles steal the show. There’s an excellent 2.5 minutes of anole footage beginning at the 38:46 mark, highlighted by lovely shots of a male A. allisoni and video of Chamaeleolis (also homolechis, sagrei or a close relative, a pale-dewlapped grass anole, porcatus and lucius). In addition, just before this, there’s a nice depiction of how Cuba was split into three islands when sea-levels were higher.

A Little Giant’s Dewlap… Why Do They Need One?

Anolis ricordii. Photo by Miguel Landestoy.

Anolis ricordii. Photo by Miguel Landestoy.

If a juvenile anole has a dewlap since birth, there must be a reason for it, but what is it?  Juvenile hispaniolan crown giants do have them and here is a video of one using it. This Anolis ricordii was only 52.10 mm in SVL and was showing his stuff while a colleague was taking photos of it. We placed it in the tree and left it for about 10 minutes without disturbing it, after which it started dewlapping and bobbing the head. At one point, the dewlap was fully extended, but by the time I got my “pocket” camera ready, this was all it gave.

Later on, another individual, which was somewhat smaller, was found on the ground on a rainy day. There must be intraspecific spatial niche partitioning, when your parents are higher up and could eat you, it must be safer to stay away. Would a dewlap also be useful mainly for “pushing” away potential competitors/predators, as A. cybotes?

The Anole Bunch-Munch Frenzy

_MG_4001 copyAfter an early afternoon rain in western Cordillera Central of the Dominican Republic, a swarm of “flying ants” emerged from a nest on ground, most of them gathering at top of this antenna pole, attracting the attention of the neighboring community of anoles. Approximately a “platoon” of 2 dozen of A. chlorocyanus started climbing up the 7-8 meter tall pole, a few A. cybotes stayed low, and at least one A. distichus joined the feast. The lizards came from two small wooden buildings and used the wire (seen near top, at right side) and roof-to-nearest bushes jumps to access the pole. Many more came and went. Certainly, there were several males, and dewlap displays were made once in a while, but there was no time (or no real need?) for a fight this time. Some male chlorocyanus live very close to each other in those buildings (along with several females), and show notorious scars over their faces.

Editor’s Note: Here’s another video that Miguel mentioned in a comment (below):