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Old May 20, 2012, 11:24 PM   #1
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Default Right place right time?

I was photographing this bobtailed male Western Fence Lizard in a local nature center, when it suddenly flipped over and back, flashing a brilliant iridescent blue, brightest on his throat, like a hummingbird's gorget. Had I not ben in the process of taking another picture, I would have missed it entirely, but as it was, I missed the peak of the display. This guy was tame, and right by a heavily traveled path - obviously used to humans - I started snapping at a respectful distance and kept getting closer until I was very close, and I thought I might have intruded on his "personal distance" and was being warned not to get any closer (You can see by the DOF in the second frame how close I was by then). People don't usually get this close to a lizard, so it would not be surprising if this had not been seen before in the wild - as it seems it hasn't. These lizards are common and well studied, and their belly colors are known normally only to be used in very different mating displays. I queried one of my colleagues - a lizard expert who has worked with these lizards for years - and he had never seen or heard of such a display. He in turn queried another who thought it must have been scratching an itch, but I know it was too fast for that. So what was it doing? Was I in the right place at the right time to see a behavior not seen before, or was it just a fluke? I may never know, but it is fun to speculate.

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Last edited by penolta; May 20, 2012 at 11:29 PM.
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Old May 21, 2012, 1:12 AM   #2
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Wow that is so interesting!! I see these lizards everywhere but never seen it's belly.
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Old May 21, 2012, 1:16 AM   #3
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Wow! Nice catch when it changed color on the belly. Is the bobtail a natural occurrence on this species or it lost part of the tail in a fight or something?
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Old May 21, 2012, 9:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCKSer View Post
Wow! Nice catch when it changed color on the belly. Is the bobtail a natural occurrence on this species or it lost part of the tail in a fight or something?
Lizards can autotomize (self-amputate) all or part of their tails if caught be a predator. They will regenerate in time. The color didn't change, it was just exposed by the position of the body. The scales are reflective if the angle of the sun is right.

Thanks both for looking and commenting.
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Last edited by penolta; May 21, 2012 at 9:33 AM.
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