Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Eavesdropping lizards

Originally by Ryo Ito and Akira Mori, modified by Alli of Alli's Snakes for a change in audience. Most lizards, as you might know, are more the silent type. But at the same time, those little guys have good hearing. But not many people study lizards' hearing use in their habitat. But there is a hypothesis that lizards can eavesdrop. They're not trying to learn secrets or anything, but they might listen in to birds' alarm calls so they know to activate the anti-predator response. Now, three lizards were tested, the Madagascan giant day gecko, the Madagascan spiny-tailed iguana, and the wide-tailed zonosaur. Day gecko, iguana, and zonosaur images from Wikipedia To test this hypothesis, alarm calls and songs were played back to the lizards and videos were taken of the lizards' reactions to the alarm calls. The day geckos changed their color so they got darker and blended in. The iguanas kept watch for danger more often, and the zonosaurs stopped looking for food longer. This therefore shows that lizards can eavesdrop on bird calls! Ito, Ryo, Mori, Akira. "Non-vocal Lizards in Madagascar Eavesdrop on Avian Alarm Calls" Presentation at Joint Meeting of Icthyologists and Herpetologists 2014, August 3, 2014. Live presentation. August 3, 2014.

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