The Principle of Unsympathetic Magic Strikes Again

Who knows what Phenacosaurus dreams about?

On her very first day of anole fieldwork, soon-to-be graduate student Katie B. experienced a clear example of the wisdom of Ernest Williams. Out at night looking for anoles with her soon-to-be advisor, they came across the first Phenacosaurus orcesi of the trip, clinging to a narrow, vertical twig about eight feet above the ground. This led to a long pontification by the advisor on how some anoles sleep on leaves, others on branches, and so on, but how P. orcesi, in so many respects similar to twig anoles, would surely only be found sleeping on the twigs to which it is so well adapted, and would abjure all vegetated slumber sites. Needless to say, the next phenacosaur found that evening was snoozing sprawled across a leaf (as well as the next one found the following evening), teaching Katie both about the Principle of Unsympathetic Magic and the general lack of veracity of anything her advisor-to-be says.

p.s. Katie won the candy bar for correctly predicting the number of lizards captured on the first evening.

About Jonathan Losos

Author and Professor at Harvard University
This entry was posted in Natural History Observations and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Principle of Unsympathetic Magic Strikes Again

  1. Joe Burgess says:

    Please get some pictures… would love to see more photo’s of Phenacosaurus!

  2. Jonathan Losos says:

    Update: we’ve now seen more than 30 lizards at night, and approximately 75% are on twigs.

  3. Pingback: The Principle of Unsympathetic Magic Strikes (Yet) Again II |

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