Forest-Dwelling Lizards Extend Translucent Glow To Attract Mates (WATCH)

First Posted: Aug 14, 2015 05:04 PM EDT

There's nothing quite like that natural glow to attract the eye of someone special, and that's certainly true of the anole lizard. When this lizard wants to attract a mate, he perches on a tree limb, starts bobbing his head up and down and then extends a colorful throat fan, otherwise known as a dewlap that is typically translucent for those living in shaded habitats. The dramatic "glowing" effect has been known to attract a lady lizard or two, making the male stand out better to female counterparts.

It's not always easy for these guys to get a partner. Lizards have to fight in "visually noisy" environments, with branches and leaves waving in the breeze, researchers say, who hypothesized that this glowing effect helps bachelor lizards more conspicuously stand out against a busy background.

To test out the hypothesis, researchers at the University of Missouri studied the Jamacian Gray lizards, Anolis lineatopus, which live in shaded forests. They recorded the natural light conditions at locations where the lizards were observed perching and/or displaying and they measured reflecting and translucent properties of A. lineatopus, as well as three other anole lizards occupying a similar habitat.

Then, they calculated the colors of the lizards fan via the effects of the transmission. Findings revealed that the perceptual overlap between the colors of the lizard's throat fan and the natural colors of the background decreased when light was transmitted through the dewlap.

"Allowing light to pass through the dewlap makes the colors of the dewlap much easier to detect and to distinguish against other objects in the background, which means the signal is easier to see by potential mates and rivals," explained Manuel Leal, a biologist at the University of Missouri who coauthored the study, in a news release. "In other words, it increased the signal-to-noise ratio."

Yet these lizards aren't the only ones to have a glowing trick in attracting mates. Others throughout the animal kingdom--particularly marine mammals and insects--possess some natural radiance as well to help them snag a date. 

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the journal Functional Ecology.

Did you know there are over 400 species of Anolis in the Caribbean and Americas? Learn more by checking out this video, courtesy of YouTube.

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