Anolis is a genus of anoles (US: /əˈnoʊ.liz/ (listen)), iguanian lizards in the family Dactyloidae, native to the Americas. With more than 425 species,[1] it represents the world's most species-rich amniote tetrapod genus, although it has been proposed that many of these should be moved to other genera, in which case only about 45 Anolis species remain.[2][3] Previously, it was classified under the family Polychrotidae that contained all the anoles as well as Polychrus, but recent studies place it under Dactyloidae.[2]

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

ca. 390 spp., see text


This very large genus displays considerable paraphyly, but phylogenetic analysis suggests a number of subgroups or clades.[2][4] Whether these clades are best recognized as subgenera within Anolis or separate genera remains a matter of dispute.[2][3][5]

If the clades are recognized as full genera, about 45 species remain in Anolis, with the remaining moved to Audantia (9 species), Chamaelinorops (7 species), Ctenonotus (more than 40 species), Dactyloa (c. 95 species), Deiroptyx (almost 35 species), Norops (c. 190 species) and Xiphosurus (c. 15 species).[2][3] Some of these can be further subdivided. For example, Phenacosaurus was often listed as a full genus in the past, but it is a subclade within Dactyloa (Dactyloa heteroderma species group).[6] Among the subgroups within Anolis are:

In 2011 the green (or Carolina) anole (Anolis carolinensis) became the first reptile to have its complete genome published.[7]

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.[8][9]


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).[10] 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.[10][11] 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.[12][13][14][15]

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.[16][17]


The anolis lizards that are less susceptible to predation are those with 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.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Uetz, P.; Hallermann, J. (2018). "Dactyloidae". The Reptile Database. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e 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
  3. ^ a b c Nicholson, K.A.; B.I. Crother; C Guyer; J.M. Savage (2018). "Translating a clade based classification into one that is valid under the international code of zoological nomenclature: the case of the lizards of the family Dactyloidae (Order Squamata)". Zootaxa. 4461 (4): 573–586. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4461.4.7.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Poe; Nieto-Montes de Oca; Torres-Carvajal; Queiroz; Velasco; Truett; Gray; Ryan; Köhler; Ayala-Varela; Latella (2017). "A Phylogenetic, Biogeographic, and Taxonomic study of all Extant Species of Anolis (Squamata; Iguanidae)". Systematic Biology. 66 (5): 663–697. doi:10.1093/sysbio/syx029.
  6. ^ Nicholson 2012, p. 17
  7. ^ Sweetlove, Lee (2011-08-31). "Lizard genome unveiled". Springer Nature.
  8. ^ Losos, J. B. (2009). Lizards in an evolutionary tree: ecology and adaptive radiation of anoles. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ a b Losos, J.B. (2007). "Detective work in the West Indies: integrating historical and experimental approaches to study island lizard evolution" (PDF). BioScience. 57: 585–597. doi:10.1641/b570712.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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 2630972. PMID 19126226.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Trapped in Amber: Ancient fossils reveal remarkable stability of Caribbean lizard communities". Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  17. ^ 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. PMC 4538666. PMID 26216976.
  18. ^ 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

External links

  • 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
Anguilla Bank anole

The Anguilla Bank anole or Anguilla anole (Anolis gingivinus) is a species of anole lizard that is endemic to the Caribbean Lesser Antilles.


Anolbanolis is an extinct genus of iguanian lizards that lived in the Bighorn Basin of what is now Wyoming during the earliest Eocene. The type species A. banalis was named by paleontologist Krister Smith in 2009 from a collection of isolated skull fragments found in a layer of the Willwood Formation that dates to a brief period of global warming called the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) about 56 million years ago. The genus name Anolbanolis means "poor anole" from the Greek anolbos ("poor, wretched") and the name Anolis, in reference to the scrappy nature of known fossil material and its close resemblance to lizards in the genus Anolis. Smith suggested that Anolbanolis may be a close relative of Anolis or Polychrus, which are common today in Central and South America but not found as far north as Wyoming, fitting with the idea that the Bighorn Basin was warmer and wetter in the Eocene than it is currently. According to Smith, the species name banalis is a reference to it being a "banal" lizard in the Willwood, being "quite abundant in the type locality," and not unusual because "the discovery of Eocene boreal fossil members of living subtropical and tropical clades is becoming commonplace." In 2011 Smith named a second species of Anolbanolis, A. geminus, which lived in the Bighorn Basin shortly after the PETM and was about 50 percent larger than A. banalis. Smith concluded on the basis of features in A. geminus that Anolbanolis is more closely related to Anolis than it is to Polychrus.

Anolis cristatellus

The crested anole (Anolis cristatellus), also known as the common Puerto Rican anole, is a species of anole belonging to the Dactyloidae family of reptiles.

Anolis oculatus

Anolis oculatus, the Dominican anole or eyed anole, is a species of anole lizard. It is endemic to the Caribbean island of Dominica, where it is found in most environments. It is distributed in four main population groups on the island, which were initially described as subspecies and now are recognized as ecotypes. It has a very diverse morphology between these populations, with a ground color that ranges from pale tan or yellow to deep green or brown. It also has patterned markings that range from light-colored speckling to complex marbled patterns, and some populations also have large black-ringed "eye" spots on their flanks. This diversity is the product of adaptation to different ecological conditions found within Dominica, which has made it the subject of numerous studies.

The Dominican anole spends much of the time in trees but mainly hunts on the ground. Insects make up the bulk of its prey, with soft-bodied invertebrates and small vertebrates hunted less frequently. Long-living and late maturing for anoles, the Dominican anole can usually breed from around two to three months of age. Females lay eggs, and breeding can occur at any time of year. Clutches number one or sometimes two eggs and are laid under rocks or leaves on the ground. Although presently widespread and common on Dominica, it faces competition from the Puerto Rican crested anole, an invasive species which has begun to supplant it in part of its range.

Barbados anole

The Barbados anole (Anolis extremus) is a species of anole (US: (listen)) lizard that is native to Barbados, an island-nation in the Caribbean. Originally endemic to Barbados, it has since been introduced to Saint Lucia and Bermuda. It was previously treated as a subspecies of Martinique's anole (A. roquet).

Males have pale lavender to blue-gray heads, with blue eyelids. Their dorsal surfaces are deep green with dark markings and occasionally white spots, and their bellies are yellow. Females are smaller and duller in color and may have a mid-dorsal stripe.It remains widespread and abundant on Barbados, where it is the only anole species. It adapts well to populated environments.

It has been reported in Florida since the 1990s, though this is likely due to repeated introductions and escapes as a sustained, breeding population has not been confirmed.

Brown anole

The brown anole (Anolis sagrei), also known as the Bahaman anole or De la Sagra's Anole, is a lizard native to Cuba and the Bahamas. It has been widely introduced elsewhere, by being sold as a pet lizard, and is now found in Florida and as far north in the United States as southern Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Hawaii, and Southern California. It has also been introduced to other Caribbean islands and Taiwan in Asia.

This species is highly invasive. In its introduced range, it reaches exceptionally high population densities, is capable of expanding its range very quickly, and both outcompetes and consumes many species of native lizards. The brown anole's introduction into the United States in the early 1970s has altered the behavior and negatively effected populations of the native Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis, also known as the green anole), which have generally been relegated to the treetops.

Carolina anole

The Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis) (US: (listen)) is an arboreal anole lizard native to the southeastern United States (west to Texas) and introduced elsewhere. Other common names include the green anole, American green anole, American anole, and red-throated anole. It is also sometimes referred to as the American chameleon due to its ability to change color from several brown hues to bright green, and its somewhat similar appearance and diet preferences. However it is not a true chameleon and the nickname is misleading although it can camouflage.


Dactyloidae are a family of lizards commonly known as anoles (US: (listen)) and native to warmer parts of the Americas, ranging from southeastern United States to Paraguay. Instead of treating it as a family, some authorities prefer to treat it as a subfamily, Dactyloinae, of the family Iguanidae. In the past they were included in the family Polychrotidae together with Polychrus (bush anoles), but the latter genus is not closely related to the true anoles.Anoles are small to fairly large lizards, typically green or brownish, but their color varies depending on species and many can also change it. In most species at least the male has a dewlap, an often brightly colored flap of skin that extends from the throat/neck and is used in displays. Anoles share several characteristics with geckos, including details of the foot structure (for climbing) and the ability to voluntarily break off the tail (to escape predators), but they are only very distantly related, anoles being part of Iguania.Anoles are active during the day and feed mostly on small animals such as insects, but some will also take fruits, flowers, and nectar. They are fiercely territorial. After mating, the female lays an egg (occasionally two); in many species she may do so every few days or weeks. The egg is typically placed on the ground, but in some species it is placed at higher levels.Anoles are widely studied in fields such as ecology, behavior, and evolution, and some species are commonly kept in captivity as pets. Anoles can function as a biological pest control by eating insects that may harm humans or plants, but represent a serious risk to small native animals and ecosystems if introduced to regions outside their home range.

Dwarf anole

The dwarf anole or Puerto Rican twig anole (Anolis occultus) is a species of Anolis lizards that is endemic to Puerto Rico. It is also called the limestone anole. Its habitat includes places like the Toro Negro State Forest in central Puerto Rico.

Ernest Edward Williams

Ernest Edward Williams (January 7, 1914 – September 1, 1998) was an American herpetologist. He coined the term ecomorph based on his research on anoles.

Ernst Ahl

Christoph Gustav Ernst Ahl (1 September 1898 – 14 February 1945) was a German zoologist, born in Berlin.

He was the director of the department of ichthyology and herpetology in the Museum für Naturkunde.

He was also the editor in chief of the review Das Aquarium from 1927 to 1934.

He was executed while in refuge in Yugoslavia, after the partisans knew he was a German.

He did one of the first studies on bearded dragons and determined what genus they belonged to.

Ahl is commemorated in the scientific names of two species of lizards: Anolis ahli and Emoia ahli.


Iguania is an infraorder of squamate reptiles that includes iguanas, chameleons, agamids, and New World lizards like anoles and phrynosomatids. Using morphological features as a guide to evolutionary relationships, the Iguania are believed to form the sister group to the remainder of the Squamata. However, molecular information has placed Iguania well within the Squamata as sister taxa to the Anguimorpha and closely related to snakes. Iguanians are largely arboreal and usually have primitive fleshy, non-prehensile tongues, although the tongue is highly modified in chameleons. The group has a fossil record that extends back to the Early Jurassic (the oldest known member is Bharatagama, which lived about 190 million years ago in what is now India).

Knight anole

The knight anole (Anolis equestris) is the largest species of anole (US: (listen)) in the Dactyloidae family. Other common names include Cuban knight anole or Cuban giant anole, highlighting its native country, but it has also been introduced to Florida. In Florida they are sometimes referred to as "iguanas" or "iguanitos", but this generally stems from confusion with the green iguana. In its native Cuba, this large anole is called chipojo.

List of Anolis lizards

The large lizard genus Anolis contains around 390 accepted anole (US: (listen)) species, which have been considered in a number of subgroups, or clades such as carolinensis and isolepis.

Nota bene: In the following list, a binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Anolis.

List of amphibians and reptiles of Cuba

This is the List of amphibians and reptiles in the archipelago of Cuba, which consists of 27 reptiles and 55 amphibians that are critically endangered. Many of these animals are threatened by loss of habitatand hunting.

List of lizards of Colombia

The 238 lizard species found in Colombia represent 13 families.


The Polychrotidae family (sometimes classified as the Polychrotinae subfamily instead) of iguanian lizards contains the living genus Polychrus (commonly called bush anoles) and the extinct genus Afairiguana. The family Polychrotidae was once thought to encompass all anoles, including those in the genus Anolis (which are now included in the family Dactyloidae). Studies of the evolutionary relationships of anoles based on molecular information has shown that Polychrus is not closely related to Anolis, but instead closer to Hoplocercidae. It is therefore not part of Dactyloidae and instead is treated as the family, Polychrotidae.

Puerto Rican crested anole

The Puerto Rican crested anole (Anolis cristatellus cristatellus) is the nominate subspecies of the crested anole belonging to the Dactyloidae family of reptiles. This anole (US: (listen)) is native to Puerto Rico, but has been introduced elsewhere, including Florida.

Watts's anole

Watts's anole (Anolis wattsii) is a species of anole, a lizard in the family Dactyloidae. The species is endemic to the Caribbean Lesser Antilles.


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