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  • Julia Riley

The Frilly's Frill

​ A Frillneck Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii) juvenile demonstrating it's iconic display

The recent edition of Australian Geographic featured the work and photography of Christian Alessandro Perez Martinez, as well as the work on many others, on the iconic display of the Australian Frillneck Lizard. Christian's work, co-authored by myself and Martin Whiting, was recently published in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

This study was investigating the role of the Frillneck Lizard's frill as an anti predator behaviour, and had some cool findings! The top 3 were:

(1) Frillies displayed with their frill when faced with a model, bird predator. Frill colouration that was exposed during this display was very conspicuous, especially compared to this lizards' cryptic resting state!

Check out this cool video of a Fillneck Lizard's display. Captured in the wild by Christian!

(2) Juvenile frillies' frills were the most conspicuous to both a bird or lizard observer! What does this mean? Perhaps it reflects a higher vulnerability of this life-stage to predation, and/or a different suite of predators.

(3) Male frill area was larger than females and juveniles, and they displayed their frills more vigorously! Although complete speculation, this may suggest an additional function of the frill in males, like as a signal during competition or mating.

The relationship between lizard snout-vent length (SVL) and frill areas from juveniles (gray), females (red), and males (blue).

Check out our study here! And please cite it as:

Perez Martinez CA, Riley JL, and Whiting MJ. 2019. Uncovering the function of an enigmatic display: antipredator behaviour in the iconic Australian frillneck lizard. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, doi: ​10.1093/biolinnean/blz176/5679583

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