Lindsey Swierk, Langkilde Lab researcher extraordinaire, recently published a paper summarizing her work with sex-linked coloration in eastern fence lizards and how it affects mate choice. This paper in the journal Biology Letters, shows that, while males typically have blue badges underneath the chin and sides and females are generally white underneath, some females, the “bearded ladies,” show light blue patches underneath their chins and sides. These females look more like males, and when males were given a choice of courting either a female with stereotypical white coloration underneath or a “bearded lady,” they favored courting the females without male-like coloration.
Lindsey also found that these masculinized females had eggs which weighed less and hatched later than those of the favored females, indicating that “bearded ladies” have lower fitness. The Langkilde Lab is continuing to look into why females may display these traits if they result in lower fitness, and we are investigating the link between testosterone levels and female coloration and whether the offspring of these “bearded ladies” have any advantages or disadvantages. Stay tuned for future results, but in the meantime, check out some of the publicity that Lindsey’s latest has garnered (below) along with all of the creative headlines that the national news media cooked up for this story!
Male lizards less attracted to “bearded ladies”
The Guardian Express
Eastern fence lizards lust less blue companions
Christian Science Monitor
Female lizards with beards not attractive, report other lizards
Males court bearded ladies less
“Bearded ladies” are less sexy to male lizards
See the full paper in Biology Letters here!