What does Jack LaLanne have in common with a Jamaican lizard?
Like the ageless fitness guru, the lizards greet each new day with vigorous push-ups. That's according to a new study showing that male Anolis lizards engage in impressive displays of reptilian strength -- push-ups, head bobs, and threatening extension of a colorful neck flap called a dewlap -- to defend their territory at dawn and dusk.
The lizards are the first animals known to mark dawn and dusk through visual displays, rather than the much better known chirping, tweeting, and other sounding off by birds, frogs, geckos, and primates.
Terry J. Ord, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology and at the University of California, Davis, describes the Anolis lizards' unusual morning ritual in a forthcoming issue of the journal American Naturalist.
"Anoles are highly visual species, so in that sense it's not surprising that they would use visual displays to mark territory," Ord says. "Still, the finding is surprising because these are the first animals known to use non-acoustic signaling at dawn and dusk."
Ord studied four species of Jamaican forest lizard: Anolis lineatopus, Anolis sagrei, Anolis grahami, and Anolis opalinus. Female anoles establish small territories allowing access to food and other resources, while males stake out larger territories allowing them access to several females. The males spend much of the day sitting on tree trunks and displaying head motions, push-ups, and dewlap extensions, all to warn other males away from their territory.
Ord carefully located and videotaped individual males at different times of day, from before dawn to dusk. In all four species, he found distinct peaks of activity at daybreak and for about two hours afterward, and again just before dark.
"These patterns have remarkable parallels with the dawn and dusk choruses reported for many acoustically communicating animals," Ord says.
As in many species of birds, anoles leave their daytime perches at night to find safe shelter, since both birds and reptiles are frequently targeted by nocturnal predators.
"The dawn chorus may be a way of communicating having survived the night," Ord says. "If in the morning a bird doesn't hear its neighbor, or an anole doesn't see its neighbor, it may be an opportunity for the animal to expand its territory."
While ornithologists disagree on the exact reasons why birds chorus at dawn and dusk -- competing hypotheses propose everything from territorial defense to favorable environmental conditions to manifestations of circadian rhythms -- Ord says his work suggests male anoles use their morning displays primarily to mark territory.
"All of these behaviors are displays of physical vigor," Ord says. "As in humans, if an anole can do many of these push-ups it shows that he is in prime physical condition. These displays of strength help avert actual physical confrontations between male lizards, which can be very fierce and destructive."
Ord's work may open the doors to further study by ornithologists, herpetologists, and others seeking evidence of non-acoustic dawn and dusk signaling among other species.
Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
Sweetening neurotransmitter receptors and other neuronal proteins
28.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung
A new look at thyroid diseases
28.10.2016 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences