News

Males of Augrabies Flat Lizard Mimic Females to Avoid the Costs of Broadcasting their Masculinity


3 March 2009

The male Augrabies Flat Lizard (Platysaurus broadleyi) are brightly coloured to attract the attention of the much duller females. Photo: Martin Whiting.
The male Augrabies Flat Lizard (Platysaurus broadleyi) are brightly coloured to attract the attention of the much duller females. Photo: Martin Whiting.


Researchers Dr, Jonathan Webb, Dr Martin Whiting (University of the Witwatersrand) and Dr Scott Keogh (Australian National University) have discovered that some males of the multi-coloured Augrabies Flat Lizard from South Africa mimic females during early maturity and thereby avoid the costs of broadcasting their masculinity. By labelling males, females and she-males with chemicals from conspecifics, the researchers found that resident males are fooled by the sight of she-males, but not their smell. The research features in the current volume of Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B and has been featured in media including ABC news.