Scientists say that natural selection could trim out female lizards with too much of a ‘beard,’ a strip of bright-blue scales on their necks and along their sides.
Langkilde lab/Penn State University
Ecologists at Penn State University reported this week that male fence lizards discriminate against female fence lizards sporting blue “beards” – dabbles of bright azure scales on their necks and along their sides – preferring instead to lavish their attention on beardless females. That’s a find that scientists say may suggest that natural selection will in time trim out female lizards with too much of a beard.
“This was really striking since female ornamentation in this species is thought to serve no function and has been ignored by scientists,” says Tracy Langkilde, a biologist at Penn State University and the principal investigator on the paper, published in the journalBiology Letters, in an email interview. “It’s clear that it in fact plays a role in male mate choice, and has some potentially important consequences for reproductive success.”