A Royal Anole

Paper figure; Anolis principalis, by R.W. Shufeldt

With all the hoopla over the royal wedding between Prince William and Miss Kate Middleton, I thought it necessary to Google “Anolis Prince William” to see whether the future king had had any interactions with this blog’s most noble subjects during his bachelorhood.

The first link was to this paper, published in 1883 in The American Naturalist. It is a brief natural history note detailing the habits of the American Chameleon, known then as Anolis principalis. Today, we know it as Anolis carolinensis.

An early sentence reads: “This singular interest [in lizards] amounts to positive fascination, as we come to know the anolidae, and I assure you our little American chameleon is one of the most engaging of the group…” (pp. 919).

The paper offers some flowery anecdotes about the species written in the verbose language of the time. For example:

“[The male anole] is now almost completely clothed in a complete suit of bright green, his crimson gular pouch protruding and retracting, reminding one of the opening and shutting of some tropical butterfly in the noon-day sun” (pp. 923).

In the final paragraph, the author describes a royal union between two lizards in a most dignified fashion. The Queen, I imagine, would be amused.

<Disclaimer: Of course, Anolis are not true chameleons. True chameleons are part of a different lineage found in Africa.>

About Yoel Stuart

Yoel studies evolutionary ecology of Anolis lizards. He is a graduate student at Harvard University, in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.
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