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Lingually mediated discrimination of prey, but not plant chemicals, by the Central American anguid lizard, Mesaspis moreletii

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The ability of the anguid lizard Mesaspis moreletii to identify food using only chemical cues was tested experimentally by presenting a series of chemical stimuli to lizards on the cotton tips of wooden applicators. The lizards responded much more strongly to cricket surface chemicals than to surface chemicals from romaine lettuce, diluted cologne (pungency control), and deionized water (odorless control). In a second experiment, there were no significant differences among conditions in tongue-flicks, tongue-flick attack scores, or number of individuals that bit swabs bearing stimuli from banana, white grape, dandelion, or deionized water. The absence of differential responses was not due to habituation because individuals tested again with cricket stimuli immediately after experiment two all bit the swabs. In the laboratory the lizards readily consumed insects, but refused to eat plants selected for their palatability to herbivorous lizards. Our data suggest that M. moreletii is carnivorous.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN 46805, USA


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