Relocated in small groups to experimental islands, lizards rapidly and repeatedly developed new chemical signals for communicating with each other. Free from the risk of predators and intent to attract potential mates, male lizards produce a novel chemical calling card, according to new research from Washington University in St. Louis.
Studies of animal signal evolution usually focus on acoustic and visual signals—like the complex warbling in a bird’s song or the bright flashes of color on fish scales. Chemical signals between animals are less obvious to humans and more technically complex to parse. Much of the existing research on these signals has focused on insect pheromones relevant to certain agricultural applications.
But chemical signals are the oldest and most widespread communication mode, spanning bacteria to beavers. As such, they represent a valuable opportunity for decoding how animals communicate and perceive the world around them, researchers said. MORE
Header image: a male Podarcis erhardii, the Aegean wall lizard. Credit: Colin Donihue.