Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tierra de Gigantes (The Land of the Giants)

Our knowledge of the natural history of giant anoles, such as Anolis cuvieri, is relatively poor. Yesterday I had the opportunity to observe two events that are relatively rarely witnessed in this species. These included a male courting a female and a male-male agonistic interaction. Furthermore, the events occurred sequentially. First, a male began to display to a female and then chased her in an attempt to initiate copulation. As illustrated by the photo below, the copulation attempt progressed to the stage at which the male bites the nuchal region of the female while trying to orient his body properly.
A. cuvieri copulation attempt

Unfortunately for the first male, another male interrupted the copulation. Thus began a long period of aggressive displays between the males. This agonistic event included each male presenting laterally, dewlapping, head-bobbing, and opening its mouths with protruded tongue. Interestingly, neither male was willing to cede the "higher ground", resulting in both individuals constantly moving up their respective perches. Which lasted until both males reached the canopy of their respective perches, a point at which one of the males began to exhibit what appears to be submissive behaviors. These types of observations are clear reminders that "boots on the ground" are needed if we want to understand the complexity and diversity of social behaviors.
Males A. curvieri following the "higher ground" tactic 


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