Lizard tail adaptations may reflect predators’ color vision capabilities

June 23, 2016

Dr. Takeo Kuriyama published his study on colors of the lizard tail in the recent Journal of Zoology. According to the researcher, juveniles of numerous lizard species have a vividly blue-colored tail. And this part of their body serves to deflect predator attacks toward the detachable tail. Painless loss of the tail is much better than body loss. 

Japanese researchers have found out that differences in blue and UV light reflectance in lizard tails are adaptations to predators who see the world differently too. To meet predator’s color vision capabilities, the lizard uses the tail with vivid blue reflectance.

Thus, blue reflectance works well on weasel or snake — these predators are able to detect blue wavelengths. “However, snakes can detect UV, yet weasels cannot,” Dr. Kuriyama noted. And what about different color of the lizard tail? Their cryptic brown tail evolved on islands where birds are the primary lizard foes. It’s much effective for lizards to have brown camouflage for tail because birds have keen visual acuity. As explained Dr. Takeo Kuriyama:

“Nano-particle pigments in skin produce the anti-predator tail coloration.”