Tree skinks go to school: The complexities of social learning in lizards

By: Fonti Kar & Julia Riley

“Never study an animal that is smarter than you” – Dr Martin Whiting

An adult female tree skink after performing the discrimination task we used to quantify their learning ability – she successfully removed the blue lid from this dish and accessed the food reward . . . → Read More: Tree skinks go to school: The complexities of social learning in lizards

Up for a fight or doing a runner, for a lizard it could be in their genes

Animals often instinctively assess their environment, and display innate behavioural responses. For example, many newly born reptiles and fish know how to respond to predators – knowing when to “fight” and when to “flee” – right after hatching out of their eggs! Innate behavioural responses, especially in times of peril, may be the difference . . . → Read More: Up for a fight or doing a runner, for a lizard it could be in their genes

Hot off the press! Roommates are not all they’re cracked up to be (if you’re a lizard)

Recently, myself and collaborators published our study that found – social experience has a crucial role in development of a family-living lizard. We also discovered that despite their social nature, the Australian tree skink (Egernia striolata) does not necessarily thrive in a ‘share-house’ environment.

Egernia striolata from Gluepot, South Australia

Group- and family-living . . . → Read More: Hot off the press! Roommates are not all they’re cracked up to be (if you’re a lizard)

Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

By Julia Riley

A family-living lizard’s ability to navigate through a complex maze is not linked to how they were raised

We have found that the learning ability of the Tree Skink, a lizard that lives with family, is not linked to growing up with others. These lizards were . . . → Read More: Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

Athletic lizards: Sex, hormones, and physical performance

By Dan Noble

When it comes to animal athletics lizards have been model systems for exploring the relationships between ecology and physical performance. Our two recent papers, one in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society and the second in Behavioral Ecology add to the growing list of studies looking at functional performance in lizards.

Eastern water . . . → Read More: Athletic lizards: Sex, hormones, and physical performance

Sex, boldness and learning in a lizard

Followers of the Lizard Lab blog will have read previous reports about relatively rapid learning in lizards. In those studies we typically focused on males or avoided drawing comparisons between the sexes because either the sample size was limited or the focus of the study was different. In our latest paper we decided the . . . → Read More: Sex, boldness and learning in a lizard

Happy New Year From Newhaven, NT!!

Well, after three months of a four-month fieldtrip to AWC Newhaven, I thought it was time to send a long-overdue update via the Lizard Lab Blog!

Newhaven veterans Chris Turnbull and Andy Beattie joined me for the first month of the trip, and as always, were incredibly helpful and great company. I have since . . . → Read More: Happy New Year From Newhaven, NT!!

Hot off the press! “Learning outdoors: male lizards show flexible spatial learning under semi-natural conditions”

For anyone interested in comparative cognition, these are exciting times and 2012 has been a good year for lizards! Manuel Leal and Robert Powell’s study of Anolis cognition demonstrated that lizards are capable of behavioural flexibility. (Behavioural flexibility, a key feature of advanced cognition, is the ability to solve a novel problem, or develop . . . → Read More: Hot off the press! “Learning outdoors: male lizards show flexible spatial learning under semi-natural conditions”

Dispatches from the field: in search of the mystical Secret Toad-headed Agama and other tail waving lizards in China

This dispatch comes to you from the Tukai Desert in north-west China, a short drive (about 15 km) from the Kazakhstan border. We are three weeks into a six-week field trip. The lab is currently working on the evolution of complex tail waves and colour signals in Asian toad-headed agamas (Phrynocephalus) in . . . → Read More: Dispatches from the field: in search of the mystical Secret Toad-headed Agama and other tail waving lizards in China

Lizard Lab news!

A Lizard Lab update is long overdue! The lab has had the pleasure of hosting Stephan Leu as a visiting postdoc. Stephan and Martin have been working on a paper together and planning upcoming research on blueys (social networks) and sleepy lizards (with Mike Bull). Stephan has done some fantastic work on social networks . . . → Read More: Lizard Lab news!