Monday, September 14, 2015

Pigment curiosity in an Anole from Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, FL

A 'blue' Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) was spotted and photographed by Robert Mohl in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. This beautiful and uncommon occurrence inspired him to research the phenomenon (see below)
The typical coloration for a Green Anole ranges from the richest and brightest of greens to the darkest of browns, with little variation in between. The color spectrum is a result of three layers of pigment cells or chromatophores: the xanthophores, responsible for the yellow pigmentation; cyanophores, responsible for the blue pigmentation, and melanophores, responsible for the brown and black pigmentation when the background is other than green and the anole changes color to camouflage itself. In bright light, against foliage, it appears emerald in colour, but in shadier, cool or moist conditions grey to olive brown. However the colour change is not simply a matter of matching background, but rather body temperature, stress and activity. Green reflects activity and bright light, whereas brown reflects reduced activity in moist, dark cool conditions. A lack in one of the pigment genes causes color exceptions. These color mutations are also called phases. The rare blue-phased green anole lacks xanthophores, which results in a blue, rather than red, often pastel blue, anole. These specimens have become popular recently in the pet trade market. When the anole is completely lacking xanthophores, it is said to be axanthic and the animal will have a completely pastel- or baby-blue hue. They are extremely rare—usually produced in one of every 20,000 individual anoles in the wild. Another phase is the yellow-phased green anole, which lacks cyanophores. Colonies of these rare color-phased anoles have been reported, but anoles with these color mutations rarely live for long, since the green color provides camouflage for hunting down prey, as well as hiding from predators — Robert Mohl