Category Archives: Ask the Experts

Can You Help Me Put Names to These Anoles from Yucatan?

Hello everyone. I recently spent four months in the Yucatan Peninsula, doing field work at the Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Sanctuary. While I was there, I observed and photographed quite a few Anolis. I suspect that they are a mix of A. sagrei, rodriguezi, and lemurinus, but I am not able to definitively identify them on my own. I am well aware that it may not be possible to put a name to some or maybe even most of these from photos, but I would be grateful for any insight from the resident experts.

Here are the photos, in no particular order.



IMGP1871 anolis














This should be A. sagre, correct?











P1080277 P1080610

And these yellow dewlaps I would imagine indicate A. rodriguezi?



Thanks very much for any help given.



10 (Vinales)

Please Help Me Identify Some Anoles and Other Cuban Lizards

Hello to everybody, I’m an italian naturalist that visited Cuba last December 2016.

I’m mainly a birder, but I like to give a name to all the creatures I meet. So, I’m going to post 20 pictures of lizards photographed in Cuba: for some I have hypotheses about the identification, but I need confirmation. For some others, I’m completely lost!
Can anybody help me??

Continue reading Please Help Me Identify Some Anoles and Other Cuban Lizards

ID Help with Anoles From Costa Rica

Hi all,

My students and I spent a few weeks in the southwestern portion of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica this past summer, mostly working on frog projects. However, it is hard not to get interested in the anoles too! We found several individuals in our stay that we could not readily key out in Savage (2002). They were found in in secondary rain forests along small streams. Sorry, no dewlap photos. Any help from the experts on the identity of these beasts would be appreciated!

Unknown anole, lateral view caiman-afternoon-2 caiman-afternoon-3

Here’s another individual from the same study site that is perhaps the same species:

unknown anole 2caiman-skull-morning-3

Knight Anole (Anolis equestris) Subspecies Question

KnightAnoleIMG_0856I photographed this knight anole 9 November 2015 at Criadero de Cocodrilos, Matanzas, Cuba. I tentatively assigned this one to Anolis equestris juraguensis based on the range map on page 257 in “Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies” by Schwartz and Henderson (1991).  However after reviewing the detailed descriptions in Schwartz & Garrido (1972), I believe this individual is a better match for nominate A. e. equestris. I base this primarily on the yellowish occipital patch and contrasting blue color on its head.  The range map in Schwartz & Garrido does not include this particular locality, but nominate is geographically close.   Confirmation or corrections are welcome.


A Costa Rican Anole… with Eyespots? (ID Help Please)


My friend, Ricardo Kriebel (post-doc at University of Wisconsin – Madison), asked me for some help identifying an anole he came across in Costa Rica. He took these photos a couple of days ago in Cerros de Escazu, San Jose, Costa Rica in a cloud forest at ~2000m. Can anyone identify this species for him?


Ricardo reports that the lizard was unusually easy to catch (which says a lot since he is a botanist and not accustomed to hand-catching anoles). He came across it on the ground in the leaf litter and it didn’t move when he got close to it. Weather wasn’t likely to blame for it’s sluggishness as it was fairly warm out. Maybe this species relies heavily on crypsis? The body pattern in the photos above certainly looks like it would blend in well in leaf litter.

anolis_7Ricardo also pointed out that on the top of the head the pattern resembled eyes. He noted that eye mimicry is common in this region in insects as a defense against predatory birds (e.g. Janzen et al. 2010). He proposed that perhaps the pattern on the top of this anole’s head was a similar type of mimic meant to resemble the eye or face of something an aerial predator should be wary of, like a snake. In a quick search I was unable to find any papers proposing mimicry of this type in anoles, so I turn to the Anole Annals readers. What do you think? Eyespots or random pattern? Does anyone know of any research on potential mimicry of this type in anoles?



Species ID from Bimini – A. sagrei or distichus?

After looking through my photos from my trip last week to Bimini in the Bahamas, I was disappointed when I realized that none of us seemed to have any pictures of Anolis distichus. Or maybe we did? Among all the typical sagrei-looking anole photos was this guy:

Anolis distichus or Anolis sagrei???

Anolis distichus or Anolis sagrei???

Without telling you why I thought this was a distichus, or why others I have asked are torn between distichus and sagrei, I am curious what people think. What species is this?

Help Identify a Large Costa Rican Anole


I was just curious if any one could help me identify an anole I found in central Costa rica, near San Ramon in the Alberto Manuel Brenese Biological Reserve. It appears to be a male, and I’m assuming in the Dactyloa genus. My guess would be the Dactyloa casildae, but I am family uncertain. It would be greatly appreciated if someone could help me out! Cheers and good health!

Some Sleepy Anoles from Costa Rica

I’m in southern Costa Rica doing field work with bats, but once an anole lover, always an anole lover so when I get a night off I like to go herping. Since everyone loves a sleeping anole (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, among others), I thought I’d share some photos that a friend and I took while wandering around at night. I’m not sure what the last one is; I’m guessing Anolis polylepis (we’re at 1100m at the Las Cruces Biological Station and it was sleeping about 1m above the ground).

Anolis capito. Photo by Jon Flanders

Anolis capito. Photo by Jon Flanders

Anolis aquaticus. Photo by Jon Flanders

Anolis aquaticus. Photo by Jon Flanders

Anolis polylepis? Photo by Jon Flanders

Anolis polylepis? Photo by Jon Flanders

What’s the Best Camera for Photographing Lizards in the Field?

Hi Everyone, I am in the market for a new field camera. Looking for something durable, portable, and that can take great shots of anoles and their dewlaps (so good at close-ups, but not necessarily a macro lens). I currently use a Nikon D5100 SLR, but it is fairly bulky and fragile. What sorts of cameras and camera systems do you use in the field? Thanks!

How Many Lamellae Are on this Toepad?

One of the age old questions in anole morphology is at what point do you stop counting lamellae on the toepad?

Without giving any more information on various techniques or methods, I thought it would be interesting to ask the AA community their personal opinions. Below I have attached a flatbed scan of a toepad. Could people please fill out the corresponding poll below, and I will present the results in a follow up post!

alt text

Lamellae numbered 1-51 on the 4th digit of an Anolis lizard hindfoot

Which Puerto Rican Anoles Are These?

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Rico for the first time, albeit briefly. Fortunately, a lot of anoles can be found even on a brief visit. With the help of and other references, I could identify most of them. I was hoping to get some help from the knowledgable readers of Anole Annals on the rest. I suspect they are mostly all juvenile Anolis cristatellus cristatellus, but the appearances are varied enough that I couldn’t be sure. Any ID help is greatly appreciated!

Small brown anole at Cueva Maria de la Cruz, Puerto Rico

Unidentified Anole #1:  Cueva María de la Cruz

This small brown anole and a couple of similar-looking buddies were dashing about on a large tree trunk at the edge of a grassy clearing at Cueva María de la Cruz. This small cave is in northeast Puerto Rico, near the coast, north of the western edge of El Yunque National Forest. I saw adult Anolis cristatellus cristatellus in smaller trees nearby, so it seems likely that this is a juvenile, though its pattern looked non-standard to me.

Continue reading Which Puerto Rican Anoles Are These?

Dewlap Plus Tail-wagging in Anolis cristatellus wileyae

Anolis cristatellus wileyae on St. Thomas wagging its tail as it shows its dewlap.

Crack that whip!

This proud Anolis cristatellus wileyae had snuck into the Butterfly Farm a few minutes’ walk from the cruise port in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. So had a few dozen of its conspecifics, but this was the only one showing off its pretty two-toned dewlap while lashing its tail back and forth dramatically. Perhaps this is a common behavior, but it’s not one that I had seen before. Do other anole species also do this kind of double-showoff?

A Peek Inside an Anole

Three different individuals of Anolis cybotes that appear to have small pebbles or debris in their guts.

Three different individuals of Anolis cybotes that appear to have small pebbles or debris in their guts.

While analyzing some xrays of Anolis cybotes for my thesis work, I came across a few specimens that appear to have small dark masses in their guts. The numbers are pretty low – in over 200 xrays, I can only detect these masses in a handful of individuals. My curiosity was piqued. At first glance, they look like they might be gastroliths. Gastroliths, or gizzard stones, are rocks that animals eat to aid in digestion. Basically, the rocks help manually grind the food into smaller bits in a special portion of the digestive track called the gizzard. We know that many archosaurs (crocodilians, dinosaurs [including birds], and pterosaurs) have gizzards. Dinosaur gastroliths are some of my favorite fossils because they are usually polished and quite beautiful. However, unless I’m mistaken, lepidosaurs (squamates and rhynchocephalians) don’t have gizzards and aren’t known to have gut stones. Does anyone have an idea about what this could be? It’s possible that these are just accidental ingestions of small pebbles. Anolis cybotes do often forage near or on the ground, so perhaps it’s not so far-fetched for them to pick up a little rocky debris.

Also, check out this image of a regenerated tail!

Anolis cybotes with a regenerated tail.

Anolis cybotes with a regenerated tail.

Explaining Changes To Species Names In Nicholson et al. 2012

I’m a little embarrassed to be writing this post, but I’m still unable to figure out some of the proposed changes to anole binomials in Nicholson et al.’s (2012) taxonomic revision of Anolis. I’m a real novice with implementation of “The Code” and the rules of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, so I’m looking for a bit of help from AA readers who are more expert than I.

I understand that some of Nicholson et al.’s proposed changes to specific epithets are necessitated by the fact that their taxonomic revision would change the gender of generic epithets (e.g., Anolis chlorocyanus would be Deiroptyx chlorocyana due to the fact that Anolis is masculine and Deiroptyx is feminine). These types of changes are demanded by The Code’s article 31.2. However, I am struggling to understand Nicholson et al.’s proposed changes to twelve binomials that – to my novice eyes – do not appear to be due strictly to changes in the gender of generic epithets (see table below). Because the authors of this paper include leading authorities on taxonomy and nomenclature, I trust that these changes are not simply  the result of typographical errors.

In most cases cited in my table, Nicholson et al. add or change vowels in the correct original spellings of species epithets, where the “correct original spelling” is defined under The Code as “the spelling used in the work in which the name was established.” Based on my amateur reading of The Code, changes to correct original spellings are not permitted  unless it can be shown that the original spelling was inadvertently incorrect due to a printer’s error or related mistakes unrelated to the authors lack of familiarity with Latin (ICZN, Article 32). Can somebody enlighten me about which articles in the code govern the changes in the table below?

In this table, I provide the genus to which Nicholson et al. assign each species, the gender of this genus, the exact spelling for the specific epithet used in their manuscript, the spelling of the specific epithet from the Reptile Database, the spelling of the specific epithet from the original publication (NAs indicate that I have yet to check the original citation4), the type of change that Nicholson et al. have proposed, and the citation of the original description. Below the table, I provide some additional details about three specific cases. Thanks in advance for your help.

Genus Gender Nicholson et al. Reptile Database Original Spelling Change Description Citation
Anolis Masculine anfilioquioi anfiloquioi anfiloquioi o to io Garrido 1980
Anolis Masculine maclientus macilentus macilentus e to ie Garrido and Hedges 1992
Anolis Masculine pumilis pumilus pumilus4 u to i Garrido 1988
Ctenonotus Masculine monoensis monensis monensis4 e to oe Stejneger 1904
Ctenonotus Masculine nubilis nubilus nubilus4 u to i Garman 1887
Dactyloa Feminine anatolorus anatoloros anatoloros o to u Ugueto et al. 2007
Dactyloa Feminine euskalerrari euskalerriari euskalerriari ia to a Barros et al. 1996
Deiroptyx Feminine domincanus [see comments for correction and clarification] dominicanus dominicanus delete i Rieppel 1980 [Note: the original version of this post incorrectly referenced de Quieroz et al. 1998]
Norops1 Masculine forbesi forbesorum forbesi si to sorum Smith & Van Gelder 1955
Norops Masculine schiedei [see comments] schiedii schiedii4 ei to ii Wiegmann 1834
Norops2 Masculine williamsi williamsii williamsii ii to i Bocourt 1870
Norpos3 ? parvicirculatus parvicirculata parvicirculata4 rops to rpos and a to us Alvarex del Toro & Smith 1956

I have a bit more information about three cases in this table.

1. Anolis forbesi is the original spelling in Smith and Van Gelder (1955), but Michels and Bauer (2004) corrected this name to Anolis forbesorum due to the fact that this species is named after more than one person. Michels and Bauer (2004) suggest that this change is a “justified emendation” under Articles 31.1.2-3 and 33.2.2 of The Code. We know that at least one author of Nicholson et al. (2012) was aware of this report because Michels and Bauer thank Jay Savage for having provided thoughtful comments on their manuscript. I’m not sure why Nicholson et al. (2012) reject this proposed change by using forbesi.

2. Nicholson et al. (2012) delete the final ‘i’ from a species originally named Anolis williamsii, in spite of the fact that article 33.4 of the ICZN states that “[t]he use of the genitive ending -i in a subsequent spelling of a species-group name that is a genitive based upon a personal name in which the correct original spelling ends with -ii, or vice versa, is deemed to be an incorrect subsequent spelling, even if the change in spelling is deliberate.” Which part of this rule or related rules in The Code permits changes from ‘ii’ to ‘i’ under some conditions?

3. Nicholson et al. (2012) change both the generic and specific epithets of Anolis parvicirculata when they refer to this species throughout their manuscript as Norpos parvicirculatus (see pages 91 and 96). Although I have included this change in my table for completeness, it is the one change that I think we must attribute to a typo, even though the misspelling of Norops as Norpos appears at least twice. The change from parvicirculatus seems likely due to the fact that this species originally, and incorrectly, had a feminine rather than a masculine specific epithet.

4. This post was revised to include original spellings confirmed by Peter Uetz, thus no more NAs in the table. Thanks Peter!


Variation in Anolis equestris

Last week, while going through some old pictures  I had stored on my computer , I happened upon a few photos of  A. equestris that I must have saved back when I  used to surf the web for pictures of anoles. Taking a second to glance through the pictures for old times sake, I realized something: A. equestris is actually a quite variable species. Now I’m sure others besides myself have realized this before, the people who went about naming the long list of subspecies that I just found out this species has for example, but I can’t seem to find pictures of some of these subspecies so as to identify the animals in the photos, if they are indeed different subspecies that is, so I decided to post them here in hopes of getting an ID. I have chosen one photo for each of the different forms that I have noticed. I have my guesses about many of them and I’m pretty sure about a couple others. I have written my guess, if any, under each photo along with the photo reference; could anyone who knows the ID of a particular animal post their opinion in the comments? Thanks in advance!

Anolis equestris potior or Anolis equestris cyaneus

Anolis equestris potior

Anolis equestris equestris

Anolis equestris equestris
(introduced to Miami)


Photo from: ? probably Anolis equestris equestris

Photo from:
probably Anolis equestris  or A.luteogularis
Photo apparently taken at La Habana.
two other photos: (1,2)


Anois equestris, photo by Henk Wallays.  license:CC BY-NC photo from Anolis equestris thomasi

Anolis equestris, photo by Henk Wallays.
license:CC BY-NC
photo from
Anolis equestris thomasi

photo from this pdf

photo from this pdf. 
Other photos of this form (1, 2)
And another one taken near Playa Larga.

Continue reading Variation in Anolis equestris