Friday, July 8, 2011

Head Boppin Lizard Talkin

Continuing my retroactive posting on past programs...

On March 19 we had what may have been our most popular program to date. Dr. Matt Lovern from the OSU Zoology Department spoke about his research on green anoles in "Head Boppin Lizard Talkin!"

The anoles communicate to one another by nodding their heads in particular patterns. Dr. Lovern has identified three distinct head bobs, which he calls A B and C. One might think this would give the lizards a three-word vocabulary. But careful observation shows that the lizards' use of the patterns is more subtle than that. Males and females use the same pattern to mean different things in different contexts. And, when it comes right down to it there are only two things the lizards need to say to one another; "This is my territory. Go away," or "Hey, baby! Come over here!"

So why has nature preserved three different signals when it seems like only one or two would do? Maybe there is more to this than meets the eye! Dr. Lovern will likely continue watching lizards bob their heads for as long as it takes to decode the true motivation behind this unique animal behavior.

Dr. Lovern and one of his anoles (I'm not saying which is which) in front of a bank of lizard tanks in the biology building. I took this photo after our interview, preparing for the program.

We started the program by watching films of lizards to see what we could observe.

After the program kids gathered around Dr. Lovern for an up-close and personal lizard encounter. 

Since the anoles use head-bopping to indicate interest in - shall we say "hooking up," I decided to look to the early Beatles love songs for inspiration. The result was a super-fun song, which my wife, Lisa, and daughter, Evalyn, helped perform with backing vocals, egg shakers, hand claps - the works!

Anole in Love
When I put my dewlap out
I’m hoping you will see
How my head bobs up and down
To make you think of me
I’m an anole in love with you
Why don’t you show you love me too?
My head nods so fervently
When I see you there
Won’t you nod yours back to me
Show me that you care
I’m an anole in love with you
Why don’t you show you love me too? 
I’m a green anole
You’re a green anole
We both know the language of love
Little things you said
With your bobbing head
Let me know that I’m the green anole you’re dreaming of
So I will approach you now
My dewlap is on fire
We will be together now
As long as I desire
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doot
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doot
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doot
Repeat bridge
Well I’ve got to go for now
Lovely as it’s been
In about a week or so
Why don’t you come around again
I’m an anole in love with you

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