I don’t know if it’s the cheap gore or the shock of something unexpected, but finding an anatomical oddity or bizarre mutant awakens the morbid curiosity impulse in me. Blame it on a childhood of being a closet reader of Fangoria and Rue Morgue, if you will. But several seasons in the field will put you face to face with some strange and bizarre reptile injuries. When I come across oddities, my first reaction is typically visceral, depending on the severity. My second reaction is curiosity. Where did the injury happen? What caused it to heal this way? I can’t say I ever have many answers, but the gory paraphernalia could fill a journal.
To illustrate the point, here’s an injury I came across that I couldn’t quite figure out. It’s out of focus, but you can still see that this Anolis longitibialis from Isla Beata in the Dominican Republic has a somewhat shrunken forelimb with what appears to be necrotic tissue.
It seems to start just below the elbow and extend all the way down to the fingertips, but go no further (at least not yet). I thought it could be a spider, but I couldn’t find any bite marks, although with the limb in such condition, finding marks even if they were there would be challenging. And then my hypotheses got a little more creative. Maybe he got his limb stuck in a crevice (these are limestone cliff dwellers) and lost circulation to the limb before he could get it out. How about a really nasty bite from an anole with an infected mouth? Clearly, I’m completely befuddled. So I’m volleying it to you – has anyone ever seen something like this before? Have you observed any bizarre lizard injuries in the field?
For those of you with an eye for the strange and unusual, I also have a picture of an iguana with a severe maggot problem – and not in its mouth (https://anoleannals.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/yuck-maggots-in-the-mouth/)! Email me… if you have the guts, of course.
I used to have a whole page full of photos on-line with images of lizards with various limb injuries. Since this old WashU page appears to be down, I’ll have to try to find and repost some of these images. Just this summer we caught two A. distichus with limb problems – one was missing a forelimb and another was missing all the fingers one hand.
I found my old images and am including a photo of some of the best ones below. All of these animals were captured in nature. From left to right, the collared lizard was part of a study by the Templeton Lab in Missouri (they called him “Lefty”), I caught the two A. sagrei in Cuba, and the final animal is a Leiolaemus picta from Chile that I found with Jim Schulte and Jonathan Losos:
I ran across an Anolis carolinensis in Hawaii a few years back missing a front foot. It seemed fine otherwise.
I found an Anolis Evermani about four months ago missing a front foot. What drew my attention was that the limb bone was showing from the stumpt, also was missing the tip of the tail, wich is common with most os these lizards.