A What with a What?!

Ever Heard of an Anole and His Dewlap?

I love learning new things when I travel and animals never cease to amaze me. If you have been to tropical places, you may have spotted iguanas, geckos or other types of intriguing lizards. 

Sitting in a garden in Hawaii, I noticed a little lizard running along the wall. I marveled at how their toe pads are equipped with tiny little hooks that allow them to run straight up the wall.

This little guy was only about 12 cm long. It darted along a stone wall on little legs with a long tail and a flicking tongue. Then he stopped so I could get a good look at him. But, what I think is just another little gecko, turns out to be quite something else.

Researching this cool little guy teaches me that this is a lizard but not a gecko at all. It’s a brown, male anole.

A what?

I had never heard of anoles. While geckos and anoles are both lizards, they have evolved in different ways. Anoles didn’t appear on the scene until roughly 150 million years after the gecko. Both have adhesive toe pads that allow them to run straight up walls.

Geckos can live in dry, rocky areas while anoles prefer living among more trees. While they can live near each other, they are competitive. Anoles are active during the day while geckos are more nocturnal.

But the coolest thing I notice about my little anole friend, is his dewlap.

His what?

A dewlap is a flap of skin underneath the lizard’s chin which he can extend and retract. It’s not an air sac, just a flag he waves when staking out his territory or when trying to attract a female. He also waves it to warn off an intruding gecko:



IMG_6224For more details on anoles, click here: http://www.anoleannals.org/2018/03/26/anoles-versus-geckos-the-ultimate-showdown/