If you’re ever placing a bet on a frilled-neck lizard fight, we’ve got a hot tip for you.
Researchers from Macquarie University and The Australian National University have analysed which traits are significant predictors of a male frilled-neck lizard’s fighting success.
As you would expect, being the bigger contender helped in 83 percent of wins, but the surprising news?
Males with a more colourful frill patch won 90 percent of contests!
“Surprisingly, traits such as frill size, head size and bite force did not predict contest outcome. Instead, males with brighter and more colourful frills were more likely to dominate opponents and take gold,” says Macquarie University biologist Martin Whiting.
The researchers tested levels of carotenoid pigmentation, which is responsible for the conspicuous yellow, orange, and red colours in the lizard’s frill, and found a solid correlation between carotenoid levels and the lizard’s ability to defeat a competitor when confronted.
According to Whiting, “This is significant because you would expect a higher body mass to influence relative fighting ability, but in situations where there is no clear discrepancy in size between opponents the pigment levels appear to be a clear indicator.”
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