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Why do common lizards lift their feet?

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Iowarth View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Iowarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Mar 2014 at 10:24pm
Like Will, I have a vague recollection of us discussing this before.

There is no doubt that in most lacertids (and, indeed, other genera/families) that "arm waving" is used as some form of communication. Most commonly, in my experience, by subordinate animals by virtue of sex or size to a larger/more dominant animal. In these cases I regard (i.e. anthropomorphise) it as a "no need to bother me, look, I'm harmless" gesture. Certainly, save with the most inveterate bullies (and their personalities are individual enough to produce bullies) this does seem to result in the approaching animal not behaving aggressively. This, however, serves only to account for the situations where one arm at a time is lifted and waved when another animal - or occasionally me - is approaching.
I am sure that it serves many other social interactions which are beyond my limited ability to identify. I am also sure there are purely physiological reasons on occasion and that these include lifting the feet clear of a hot surface and, possibly, muscular contractions to increase body temperature. As I mentioned in the adjoining lizard hibernation thread they do have the ability to boost their body temperatures somewhat by burning energy which is achieved in turn by muscular contractions.
Of course, all in all, apart from the one signalling function I have identified, this can be summarised as b*****d if I know!!

Chris


Edited by Iowarth - 27 Mar 2014 at 10:25pm
Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)
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AGILIS View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AGILIS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 5:56am
Its pretty obvious would you stand bare footed on a sheet of ice after rising from bed Keith
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 8:43am
I'm beginning to think I did ask this before on the forum, a while back before the whole cat thing got to me and I stopped watching the lizards closely.

I think the dual purpose of muscle contraction to raise body temperature and signalling could have had an evolutionary link. So for example the behaviour evolved as a metabolic function, but as the lizards developed the behaviour it then also became a social signal. (Or the other way around!) Certainly worth some experimentation and further observations. i.e. is it possible through observation for me to separate when it is social and when it is purely physiological based on outside stimuli or general behaviour at the time?

Hadn't really thought of myself before as a giant bully lizard, but I guess that is some form of acceptance by the colony. Wasn't really until I got back out surveying yesterday that I realised just how tolerant of me my garden lizards are. Even the previously nervous ones now make a point of breaking in on photo shoots to get their pictures taken. Wink

PS Suz, I think Amazon have me profiled pretty good from what they send me in emails and the adverts they stream to nearly every page on google. Toys, sweets, that sort of thing LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 10:26am
interesting point re the evolutionary origin of foot-waving - I think the courtship displays of some ducks, grebes etc are based on 'fixed action patterns' which are derived from feeding actions (dabbling etc) - so maybe the social evolution of foot-waving is indeed derived from a more functional thermoregulatory purpose originally.   I don't know how you could test that hypothesis, though!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 11:04am
I wondered Will if I could devise a reliable test to separate the behaviours (social/physiological) it might then be possible to look at related species. This could reveal for example if it is primarily social or physiological in some species and give a hint to which developed first. So if I found a species that didn't use it at all socially, but did use it to increase body temp, this might point towards the initial purpose in evolutionary terms. Must be worth a doctorate at least LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 11:14am
there are many PhD's given out for far less! you could use the precise elements of the foot wave between species to try to work out a phylogeny for them, like they do with bird courtship displays, too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 11:42am
Sounds like I would need to film the behaviour and then see if I could break it down into visual elements. One would have to assume they would exist, else how would a dominant lizard know that the submissive one was being submissive, and not just trying to warm up! (based on the current hypothesis that it has a dual evolutionary purpose)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote liamrussell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 12:16pm
Gemma, maybe one of these models might be better - bit dear though...









Edited by liamrussell - 28 Mar 2014 at 12:46pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 12:21pm
Those are insanely expensive! I think a bit of paint and the rubber lizards will look great. I'm going to do a male with yellow/orange underside and a female to start with and see if they have different effects on each individual If I did find a dead lizard on my travels I could take a RTF silicone mold off it and cast some resin models too, or if anyone finds one and wants to pop it in the post...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 12:23pm
I wonder how much a Komodo Dragon would set you back...
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