Fiery frills: carotenoid-based coloration predicts contest success in frillneck lizards

Friday 31 May 2013
Male frillneck lizard. Photo: Sarah Pryke

The iconic Australian frillneck lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii) is well-known for displaying its frill when threatened and in aggressive displays. Researchers David Hamilton and Sarah Pryke of the Research School of Biology, ANU, together with Martin Whiting of Macquarie University, have established that the orange and red colours of the frill are carotenoid-based, unlike most lizards which have pterin-based pigment. The carotenoid-based colours of the frillneck’s aggressive signal were shown to be a predictor of contest success, with those possessing more colourful displays dominating size-matched competitors in 90% contests between two male lizards.

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