Hueyfest A Great Success

Outside of the program distributed at Hueyfest. Designed by Barry Sinervo.

Outside pages of the program distributed at Hueyfest. Designed by Barry Sinervo.

A week ago Friday, 60 people gathered at the Burke Museum in Seattle to celebrate the career of Ray Huey. And what a career it’s been: thermal ecophysiology, comparative methods development, rapid evolution in Drosophila, effects of global warming on ectotherms, and much, much more.

HueyFestProgram final BLK-1 insideAnd we heard all about it, and then some, in the eight talks that filled the day’s proceedings. The presentations were many and varied, but all had one theme: the important role Ray has played not only in the development of important ideas in science, but in the lives of the people with whom he has interacted. Here’s a few highlights:




Paul Hertz, who has worked with Ray since they were graduate students, reflected on Ray then and now

Paul Hertz, who has worked with Ray since they were graduate students, reflected on Ray’s early days up to the present


Some of the photos of Ray in earlier days presented by Hertz










Next up was Joel Kingsolver, who provided an insightful analysis of Ray’s publishing approach. Continue reading Hueyfest A Great Success

The “Rediscovery” Of Anolis Proboscis, And The Evolution Of A Viral Internet News Story


If you work on Anolis lizards, there’s a good chance you’ve been asked about the recent rediscovery of the long-thought-to-be-extinct “Pinocchio Anole” within the last week. As Anole Annals reported on October 7, this story has hit the big time. After being featured on the Huffington Post, the tale of this rediscovery went viral, receiving extensive news coverage worldwide.

The catch, as most Anole Annals readers are doubtless aware, is that the Pinocchio Anole wasn’t just recently rediscovered. It was rediscovered in 2005, and has since been the subject of field studies resulting in no fewer than five published works (six if you count “Finding Anolis proboscis,” Steve Poe’s 2010 Anolis Newsletter article about finding Anolis proboscis).

What gives? How can the central claim of such a major scientific news item be fundamentally incorrect?

I propose the following hypothesis: This story evolved to its current state by good old-fashioned natural selection. I think that an initially accurate web story was repeatedly and imperfectly replicated, and that as the story was picked up by increasingly larger news outlets, important details were lost or altered during transcription (perhaps selectively, since discovery makes good copy), resulting in the evolution of an incorrect news item.

If I have things right (it’s possible I don’t know all the details), the story started with an informational advertisement from the ecotourism company Destination Ecuador.

If you read that article, it’s pretty accurate with the potential exception of a single use of the word “re-discovery” to describe the event during which the Tropical Herping team found Anolis proboscis. The use of that word is admittedly a little strange and perhaps a bit unwise, but the article makes it very clear that the actual rediscovery of the species took place in 2005, and describes a successful scientific expedition to study the species in the wild in 2010. To me the point of this article is “with our ecotourism company, you can have a chance to travel with experts to see a weird, rare, recently-rediscovered lizard species.”

Next comes an article by Douglas Main on, which appears to be the original source of the viral news item. If you read the LiveScience article, it’s worded in a way that tells a narrative of very recent rediscovery (which is not really true) without ever explicitly stating it. Continue reading The “Rediscovery” Of Anolis Proboscis, And The Evolution Of A Viral Internet News Story

Brown Anole At Bermuda International Airport?

Mark Outerbridge recently posted this photo in a comment, writing: “This photo of an anole hatchling was taken (via cell phone, hence the poor quality) by a member of the public in the departure lounge at the Bermuda international airport. Could it be a brown anole?”

We’ve already reported on brownies in Bermuda, but who would have thought they were going in on commercial flights? Or maybe they’re heading home? Is this a brown anole? Could it be Anolis grahami or some other species?

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.”

Anoles On Huffpo!

The Huffington Post featured an article yesterday on our old friend [1,2,3], Anolis proboscis. In these pages, this species has been called the horned anole of Ecuador, but Huffpo, following a post two days earlier on Livescience, calls it the Pinocchio anole. You make the call.

The article is about a group of our friends at Tropical Herping finding some specimens of this little seen species. Huffpo’s title, “Pinocchio lizard rediscovered in Ecuador after being thought extinct for 50 years,” takes a few licenses, primarily because, as the article notes, the species has been seen a number of times since 2005, which was only 40 years or so after the previous sighting. Still, it’s nice to see anoles getting the attention.

And, more importantly, the article plugs the wonderful new book on the reptiles and amphibians of Mindo, written and lavishly illustrated by the Tropical Herping team. The book is available now in online format and will be for sale in hardcopy before long. Definitely worth checking out.



And late-breaking news: there’s a video as well!

Territorial Dispute

territorial_dispute_resizedI observed this (full size image) interaction in my backyard one afternoon while I was hunting for good pictures. All anoles tend to flee as I walk around my backyard, but some only retreat partially or temporarily. These two stayed relatively out in the open until I moved a little closer, causing one to flee in to the vicinity of the other one causing the event seen in the picture.
Continue reading Territorial Dispute

Anole Photo Contest 2013

Who wouldn’t want to win one of these?

It’s that time again! 2014 is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start planning for another year. And what better way to mark the passage of time than with an anole calendar? As we did last year, we’re going to have a photo contest to get the best possible photographs for each month (check out the winning photos from last year). So, today Anole Annals is pleased to announce the 2013 Anole Photo Contest. The goal of the contest is to identify 12 winning photos.  The grand prize winner will have her/his photo featured on the front cover of the 2013 Anole Annals calendar and will receive an Anole Annals wristwatch of the ecomorph of her/his choice. The second place winner will receive a copy of the calendar and have her/his photo featured on the backcover of the calendar.

The rules: please submit photos (as many as you’d like) as attachments to To ensure that submissions with large attachments arrive, it’s a good idea to send an accompanying e-mail without any attachments that seeks confirmation of the photo’s receipt.  Photos must be at least 150 dpi and print to a size of 11 x 17 inches. If you do not have experience resizing and color-correcting your images, the simplest thing to do is to submit the raw image files produced by your digital camera (or, for the luddites, a high quality digital scan of a printed image). If you elect to alter your own images, don’t forget that its always better to resize than to resample. Images with watermarks or other digital alterations that extend beyond color correction, sharpening and other basic editing will not be accepted. We are not going to deal with formal copyright law and ask only your permission to use your image for the calendar and related content on Anole Annals. We, in turn, agree that your images will never be used without attribution and that we will not profit financially from their use (nobody is going to make any money from the sale of these calendars because they’ll be available directly from the vendor).

Please provide a short description of the photo that includes: (1) the species name, (2) the location where the photo was taken, and (3) any other relevant information. Twelve winning photos will be selected by readers of Anole Annals from a set of 28 finalists chosen by the editors of Anole Annals.  The grand prize winning and runner-up photos will be chosen by a panel of anole photography experts. Deadline for submission is November 1, 2013.

Green Anoles, Genomic Evolution And Surfing (Wait, What?)

She's looking at me, probably thinking "Will he eat me"? And I'm looking at her, thinking "How many transposable elements are in your genome?"

She’s looking at me, probably thinking “Will he eat me”? And I’m looking at her, thinking “How many transposable elements are in your genome?”

I wanted to bring the attention of the Anolis community to our recent publication in Genome Biology and Evolution (Tollis and Boissinot 2013), where we study the population dynamics of those fascinating features of the green anole genome – transposable elements. Transposable elements (TEs) are important components of vertebrate genomes that may seem a bit esoteric to many readers of this blog, yet the Anolis genome has already yielded great insights into how the vertebrate classes differ in terms of these DNA parasites. In a nutshell, our paper shows how microevolutionary forces such as natural selection and genetic drift account for differences which are most obvious when we make macroevolutionary comparisons (i.e. between mammals and reptiles). Even though I’ve cut to the chase a little early, I thought it might be nice to discuss what we know about the study of genomic evolution, and how the Anolis genome is contributing to the field of comparative genomics.

Continue reading Green Anoles, Genomic Evolution And Surfing (Wait, What?)

Diversity Within Lesser Antillean Anoles – Name The Species!

PowerPoint-PräsentationHey Folks,

Here is just a little task for you to get rid of unnecessary time. I made a collection of some Lesser Antillen Anoles from pictures, I took over the years or that hav ebeen given to me.

Can you name the species, or even the local morph/subspecies?

additional information: two of the pictures show females.

and here again with higher resolution.

Viele Grüße from Germany

Anole Wrist Watches Now On Sale


Crown-giant: A. equestris. Photo by Janson Jones















Anole Annals is pleased to introduce the AA Ecomorph Line of Wristwear. These snazzy chronometers will be the hit of any party, and would make an excellent holiday gift for the punctuality-impaired. Our initial  release features four of everyone’s favorite habitat specialists, but negotiations are currently underway to land the two remaining ecomorphs. As for the future, only time will tell, but can some mainland timepiece be far behind? Much less a Chamaeleolis ticker?

These retail at at for the low, low price of $47.95, but if you act quickly, there’s a 20% off sale through October 2–use the code “OCTOBERSAVER” at checkout. Don’t be the last one on your block to not have a lizard on your watch!

Trunk-Crown: Anolis allisoni

Crown-giant: Anolis equestris

Twig: Anolis occultus

Trunk-ground: Anolis marcanoi


On Head Shape Of Trunk-Crown Anoles

Anolis maynardi. Photo by J. Losos

AA commentator and Jamaican student Kuti Ra remarks (links to previous posts added by me:

“I notice a lot of fuss on Anole Annals about the skull morphology of carolinensis clade anoles, so I thought I’d weigh in with a theory of my own. All that you are about to read comes from pure indirect observation and speculation, so please keep that in mind.

First of all, I believe that the skull morphology of these anoles is directly related to their arboreal lifestyle and, more specifically, to the diet that such a lifestyle would facilitate. There have been several posts [1,2] about nectivory in anoles, but all these instances seem to involve carolinensis clade anoles (A. maynardi and A. carolinensis) and possessing a long tapered skull would undoubtedly make such feeding behaviour easier; this could come very useful as a trunk crown anole would encounter several blossoms and such high up in the trees in addition to various small fruits. In this respect, the forceps-like jaws could function something akin to a fruit-eating birds’ bill; considering all this, it would seem that the jaw morphology of carolinensis clade anoles is simply a useful adaptation for life in the canopy. This conclusion seems even more likely when you consider that sexual selection very likely wouldn’t play a role here as observations of Anolis maynardi suggests that longer-snouted males aren’t any more successful at securing mates; and why would they be, having such a long jaw narrow jaw would translate to a lower bite force and thus a less likely chance of emerging as the victor in a territorial battle?

No long schnoz here. Anolis grahami. Photo by J. Losos

Of course, this theory begs the question ‘‘Why didn’t the trunk-crown anoles on other Greater Antillean islands evolve to look like their carolinensis clade counterparts?” In my opinion, the answer is that they didn’t need to. You see, on Jamaica the trunk crown anole, Anolis grahami, has a skull that is overall very similar to the sympatric A. lineatopus, and though they are traditionally classified as belonging to different ecomorphs, I can testify from personal observation that they often share the same micro-habitat and thus compete for the same resources; however since there are only a few ecomorphs present  on Jamaica and wherever these two species occur they are of the only common species in that area, the resources available in a particular micro-habitat are often sufficient to support full populations of the two species; thus neither species has reached the point where it needs to adapt to consume different things than the other. Moving on to the neighbouring islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, one can recognize three things: first off, there are a greater number of trunk-ground anoles than on Jamaica, and more trunk-ground anoles than trunk-crown; second, all or almost all of the other ecomorphs are present  and third the jaws of the trunk-crown anoles are noticeably longer than that of sympatric trunk ground species (more so on Hispaniola than on Puerto Rico). On these islands, where there are often more species of anole competing for the resources of the trunk-ground niche, as well as additional ecomorphs to occupy other microhabitats, trunk crown anoles are becoming more and more specialized to take advantage of the resources available to them in the trees.

On Cuba, the largest island, there are often a great number of sympatric species of all ecomorphs and thus the habitat use of the anoles there is the most deeply segregated. I have read that in the Cuban rainforest, Anolis porcatus is almost never found out of the canopy; this seems to also be true of A.allisoni. This greater restriction to a particular microhabitat and need to capitalize on the resources found there  is what I believe  caused the Cuban trunk-crown to evolve such drastic adaptations to a trunk crown lifestyle. Well that’s my theory in a nutshell. I don’t know if all this has been said before but I haven’t been seen it mentioned. Like I said, most of it is based on indirect observation (looking at pictures on Google images) and speculation so I f you see any problems or holes in the theory, or if you’d like me to elaborate on or better explain a particular point, please let me know.

I think it is also important to note that the heads of trunk-crown anoles start out short on Jamaica and steadily get longer until you get to Cuba.

All the scenarios above would apply only to anoles in their natural habitats and not to populations inhabiting urban areas where more resources are available.

On a side note, have you ever noticed that trunk crown anoles have relatively tiny dewlaps? Perhaps one should look into how the ecomorph dewlaps are affected by those of neighboring ecomorphs. For example no matter what island you go to, the dewlap of any trunk-ground anole will always be comparatively larger than the dewlap of any trunk-crown anole on that island. I haven’t seen all species for Cuba, but I’m still pretty confident about it. I think these two ecomorphs in particular may have some very big effects on each other  that no one has noticed yet.

The History Of Lizard Noosing

Time honored anole field technique. But since when?

Here at AA, we’ve frequently discussed the art and practice of lizard noosing, such as posts on the best material to use to construct a noose, as well as the variety of suitable poles commercially available. Recently, I was asked a question for which I did not have an answer. To wit, what is the history of lizard noosing? Did our herpetological forebears use nooses? I’m aware that at least some herpetologists in the 70’s were doing so. What about earlier than that? Did Stan Rand noose lizards? Ernest Williams in his younger days? Barbour?

Everyone’s aware that when looking for information, if you can’t find it on Google, it’s not worth knowing. This, however, would seem to be an exception. Wikipedia has no entry on lizard noosing, nor does a Google search on the relevant terms turn up any answers (such a search does, however, turn up a plethora of websites and Youtube videos offering lizard noosing tutorials).  So, I put it to you, AA readers: who can enlighten us on the history of anole noosing?

Natural History Of The High Altitude Anole, Anolis omiltemanus

Anolis leachii enjoying life on balmy, tropical Antigua

Anolis leachii enjoying life on balmy, tropical Antigua

One of the tell-tale signs that you’re in the tropics in the Western Hemisphere is the abundance of anoles scampering about on palm trees. Tropical anoles tend to get all the media attention. The lowland tropical taxa are the anole media darlings, such as the jewel-toned Lesser Antillean anoles, the flashy trunk-crown anoles, such as A. allisoni, and the determined invaders, like A. sagrei. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the montane anoles. These species tend to get less attention. They’re usually fairly drab in coloration and, by definition, they live in more inhospitable environments that are remote and difficult to access. These are the anoles that live where the 4×4 can’t penetrate, where the cold rain pounds even in the dead of summer, and where the lush tropical communities of the lowlands morph into endless stands of lonely pine trees.

And, even if they usually lack the pigmented pizazz of the lowland anoles, the montane species have a mystery that is all their own. How is it that lizards bearing a tropical ancestry can tolerate the harsh environments found at high elevation? Do they use behavior to mitigate the cold? Do they evolve their physiology? To date we still have more questions than answers, but as a community we’re slowly beginning to build our knowledge of what makes highland anoles tick.

A study by Gunther Köhler and colleagues in a recent issue of Herpetology Notes focuses on a truly enigmatic species, Anolis omiltemanus. To say this montane species from the Guerrero region of Mexico is poorly understood is an understatement. What little we know of A. omiltemanus comes from a handful of studies conducted a few decades ago. Beyond the fact that these lizards have been found in leaf litter and in small shrubs in the pine and oak forests near Omiltemi, very little is known about their ecology.

A male A. omiltemanus (top) and a female (bottom). Images are from Köhler et al. (2013)

A male A. omiltemanus (top) and a female (bottom). Images are from Köhler et al. (2013)

Continue reading Natural History Of The High Altitude Anole, Anolis omiltemanus

The Evolution Of Squamate Developmental Sequences

A. sagrei developmental sequence. Cover illustration from Sanger et al. (2012) Proc. B.

A. sagrei developmental sequence. Cover illustration from Sanger et al. (2012) Proc. B.

As discussed previously in the Annals, interest in squamate development is rapidly accelerating. Our growing community makes this an exciting time to study lizard development, especially in a comparative context. A recent study by Andrews et al. capitalizes on the increasing number of developmental resources for squamates to assess variability in developmental sequences across lizards and snakes. One of our favorite anoles, Anolis sagrei, represents one of the 21 species included in this study. The conclusions of this study speak to several long-standing evolutionary questions and opens up new avenues of investigation that may be of interest the readers of this blog. 
 Continue reading The Evolution Of Squamate Developmental Sequences

Anole-Munchin’ Bats

Figure 2

A while back, we discussed whether bats eat anoles. It was recently brought to AA’s attention that anolivory by the common big-eared bat has been graphically documented in a 2011 PLoS One paper by Santana et al. Using videos taken at feeding roosts on Barro Colorado Island, the researchers documented three incidents of anoles being consumed, one of which is exhibited above (the anole looks like A. limifrons, a common species on BCI. Agree?).

As reported recently, these bats have become adept at scanning leaves for stationary prey, a major advance in bat foraging. One of the paper’s authors, Inga Geipel, confirmed that the lizards were caught during the night. As a result, apparently no sleeping anole is safe! The authors describe this foraging thusly: “M. microtis hunts on the wing, checking leaf by leaf in the forest while hovering up and down the understory vegetation.”

As for how they eat the anole, here’s the author’s description. Gruesome warning!!! Not for faint of heart:

Bats generally ate arthropods by repeatedly biting and crushing the prey’s head, or cephalothorax in the case of spiders, and then biting and discarding the wings, antennae and/or legs. Bats mostly used their premolar and molar teeth for the latter task, biting with one or both sides of the jaw. Once the prey’s head had been consumed and appendages had been discarded, bats consumed the thorax and abdomen biting with their molars and premolars and rotating the prey from one side of the jaw to the other.…Bats ate lizards in a similar fashion as they did arthropods, except that legs were also eaten along with the whole body. Bats started eating the lizard at the head (figure above), where they applied multiple molar bites. They continued to consume the lizard by chewing it with the molars using one side of the jaw, a behavior that continued throughout the consumption of the whole of the lizard. Apparently, lizards were eaten completely; the tail was not dropped.

How Many Introduced Brown Anoles Can You Find?

IMG_0307xsmallerTo acknowledge, if not celebrate, the news that Anolis sagrei has become established on the Honduran Bay Island of Utila–which harbors three native species–we present this photograph of the first place that the species was discovered, a vacant lot in the middle of town. As you can see if inspect the photo, the introduction has been quite successful. But just how successful? How many brown anoles can you spot?

Request For Brown Anole (A. Sagrei) Photographs

Brown anoles. Photo courtesy Bob Reed

Brown anoles. Photo courtesy Bob Reed

Hello fellow scientists and photography aficionados!

My name is Veronica Gomez-Pourroy and this is week has been laden with firsts for me: first time living in the US, first week at the Losos Lab, and now… the first post in this brilliant blog!! I am a zoologist on my third semester of my Evolutionary Biology masters, and I’ve begun working on my first (of two) Master’s thesis. I will be investigating phenotypic variation in the widespread and very cool Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), working with Jonathan Losos and Marta López Darias.

One of the elements we’d like to look into is variation in skin patterning and dewlap colouration – but at the moment I’m using specimens from museum collections and as we know, colour gets corrupted soon after an animal is “pickled.” For this reason, I am asking for your help to compile a comprehensive collection of pictures of A. sagrei–both males and females–that span most of their range. If you’d like to share your pictures with us, please email them to:

and include the location and, if possible, date when the photo was shot. I will be forever grateful for any help, and will acknowledge you in my thesis, of course!!
A huge thank you in advance, I’ll keep you posted on the progress made.

Nephila Predation on Brown Anole

A brown anole is caught up in the web of an Argiope orb-weaving spider

A brown anole is caught up in the web of an Nephila orb-weaving spider

Anoles eating spiders and spiders turning the table on anoles are well reported in both the literature and here on Anole Annals (1, 2). Recently, biologists Sarah French and Matthew Wolak of UC Riverside encountered this unfortunate Anolis sagrei that had been caught up in the web of an Nephila orb-weaving spider. Here’s what they had to say about the enounter: “We were at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton. Matt & I were walking down the boardwalk, totally creeped out by the abundance of spiders, when we encountered the anole caught in a web. He was still alive, but pretty well caught. The spider didn’t seem entirely sure what to do with it, but she seemed to occasionally bite it, which caused the anole to jerk & thrash about for a few seconds. It was hard not to feel sympathy for the anole, but native species trump exotic, and so we refrained from interfering! (But we also didn’t stick around for too long to watch).”