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Green anole (Anolis carolinensis)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Polychrotidae
Genus: Anolis
Daudin, 1802

ca. 390 spp., see text

Anolis, or anoles, is a genus of iguanian (anole) lizards belonging to the family Dactyloidae. With 391 species, Anolis represents the world's most species-rich amniote tetrapod genus.[1]


This very large genus displays considerable paraphyly, but phylogenetic analysis suggests a number of subgroups or clades.[1][2]

These include;

Several species of Anolis are occasionally ascribed to the genus Norops, but the validity of Norops is not widely accepted. Several species often listed under Anolis have been ascribed to the genus Phenacosaurus, but recent work places them in the clade Dactyloa (Dactyloa heteroderma species group).[3]

The green anole (Anolis carolinensis) has recently become the first reptile to have its complete genome sequenced.[4]

Closely related, recently diverged anole lizards exhibited more divergence in thermal biology than in morphology. These anole lizards are thought to have the same structural niche and have similarities in their size and shape. However they inhabited different climatic niches in which there was variability in temperature and openness of the environment. This suggests that thermal physiology is more associated with recently diverged anole lizards.[5][6]


Main article: Anolis ecomorph

Anolis lizards are some of the best examples of both adaptive radiation and convergent evolution. Populations of lizards on isolated islands diverge to occupy separate ecological niches, mostly in terms of the location within the vegetation where they forage (such as in the crown of trees vs. the trunk vs. underlying shrubs).[7] These divergences in habitat are accompanied by morphological changes primarily related to moving on the substrate diameter they most frequently encounter, with twig ecomorphs having short limbs, while trunk ecomorphs have long limbs.

In addition, these patterns repeat on numerous islands, with animals in similar habitats converging on similar body forms repeatedly.[7][8] This demonstrates adaptive radiation can actually be predictable based on habitat encountered, and experimental introductions onto formerly lizard-free islands have proven Anolis evolution can be predicted.[9][10][11][12]

After appearing on each of the four Greater Antillean Islands about 50 million years ago, Anolis lizards spread on each island to occupy niches in the island's trees. Some living in the tree canopy area, others low on the tree trunk near the ground; others in the mid-trunk area, others on twigs. Each new species developed its own distinct body type, called an ecomorph, adapted to the tree niche where it lived. Together the different species occupied their various niches in the trees as a "community". A study of lizard fossils trapped in amber, show the lizard communities have existed for about 20 million years or more. Four modern ecomorph body types, trunk-crown, trunk-ground, trunk and twig are represented in the amber fossils study. Close comparison of the lizard fossils with their descendants alive today in the Caribbean shows the lizards have changed little in the millions of years.[13][14]


The anolis lizards that are less susceptible to predation are those that have a dewlap that has both the scales and the skin in between match the expected pale gray or white like color of its ventral surface.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Nicholson, Kirsten E.; Crother, Brian I.; Guyer, Craig; Savage, Jay M. (2012). "It is time for a new classification of anoles (Squamata: Dactyloidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa. 3477 (1): 1–108, page 38. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 January 2016.  Abstract
  2. ^ Glor, Richard E.; Jonathan, B. Losos; Larson, Allan (2005). "Out of Cuba: overwater dispersal and speciation among lizards in the Anolis carolinensis subgroup" (PDF). Molecular Ecology. 14: 2419–2432. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2005.02550.x. PMID 15969724. 
  3. ^ Nicholson 2012, p. 17
  4. ^ Anolis Genome Sequencing Project, Broad Institute
  5. ^ Losos, J. B. (2009). Lizards in an evolutionary tree: ecology and adaptive radiation of anoles. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  6. ^ Hertz, P.E.; Arima, Y.; Harrison, A.; Huey, R.B.; Losos, J.B.; Glor, R.E. (2012). "Asynchronous evolution of physiology and morphology in Anolis lizards". Org. Evol. 67 (7): 2101–2113. doi:10.1111/evo.12072. 
  7. ^ a b Losos, J.B. (2007). "Detective work in the West Indies: integrating historical and experimental approaches to study island lizard evolution". BioScience. 57: 585–597. doi:10.1641/b570712. 
  8. ^ Losos, J. B.; Jackman, T. R.; Larson, A.; de Queiroz, K.; Rodriguez-Schettino, L. (1998). "Contingency and determinism in replicated adaptive radiations of island lizards". Science. 279: 2115–2118. doi:10.1126/science.279.5359.2115. 
  9. ^ Calsbeek, R (2008). "Experimental evidence that competition and habitat use shape the individual fitness surface". Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 22: 97–108. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2008.01625.x. PMID 19120813. 
  10. ^ Calsbeek, R.; Buermann, W.; Smith, T.B. (2009). "Parallel shifts in ecology and natural selection in an island lizard". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 9: 3. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-3. PMC 2630972Freely accessible. PMID 19126226. 
  11. ^ Calsbeek, R.; Cox, R.M. (2010). "Experimentally assessing the relative importance of predation and competition as agents of selection". Nature. 465: 613–616. doi:10.1038/nature09020. PMID 20453837. 
  12. ^ Calsbeek, R.; Smith, T.B. (2007). "Probing the adaptive landscape using experimental islands: density-dependent natural selection on lizard body size". Evolution. 61: 1052–1061. doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.2007.00093.x. PMID 17492960. 
  13. ^ "Trapped in Amber: Ancient fossils reveal remarkable stability of Caribbean lizard communities". Retrieved 2015-07-28. 
  14. ^ Sherratt, Emma; Castañeda, María del Rosario; Garwood, Russell J.; Mahler, D. Luke; Sanger, Thomas J.; Herrel, Anthony; Queiroz, Kevin de; Losos, Jonathan B. (2015-07-27). "Amber fossils demonstrate deep-time stability of Caribbean lizard communities". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112: 201506516. doi:10.1073/pnas.1506516112. ISSN 0027-8424. PMID 26216976. 
  15. ^ Fitch, H.S.; Hillis, D.M. (1984). "The anolis dewlap: Interspecific variability and morphological associations with habitat". Copeia. 1984 (2): 315–323. doi:10.2307/1445187. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Anole Annals, a blog written and edited by scientists who study Anolis lizards
  • Anolis, The Reptile Database
  • Adapting Anolis, short film on adaptations of Cuba's Anolis lizards