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Animal picture of the day: the world’s most blue lizard?

True blue lizard.
A blue anole on Gorgona Island, Colombia. Photo from Thomas Marent’s book, “Rainforest“. Used with permission.

The blue anole is one of the world’s most spectacular reptiles. Found only on the island of Gorgona, the blue anole is so elusive and rare that scientists have been unable to give an estimate of its population. However it is considered threatened due to its dependence on its small island habitat.

Nevertheless the blue anole’s stunning coloration has brought it much attention — some of which is unwelcome, as the species is highly coveted by collectors. But the blue anole also attracts thousands of people to Gorgona, which lies some 35 miles off the Pacific coast of Colombia. The species now serves as a symbol for tourism in Colombia — Aviatur, one of the country’s largest tour operators, adopted it for an advertising campaign promoting Colombia’s nature wonders.

While little is known about the blue anole, its behavior is likely similar to other anole species. That means it may be smarter than conventionally believed for a reptile: a recent study showed anoles perform as well as some birds on intelligence tests.

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Brainy lizards rival birds in intelligence

(07/13/2011) Reptiles have long been thought to be dim-witted, but a new study in Biology Letters finds that the Puerto Rican anole, a type of lizard, can match birds in smarts. Using cognitive tests that have been previously used on birds, researchers with Duke University found that the lizards were capable of solving a problem they’ve never encountered before, remembering the solution in future trials, and even changing techniques when presented with new challenges. In fact, the tiny anoles solved the test with fewer tries than birds. Given reptiles’ reputation of being slow-on-the uptake the head author, Manuel Leal, said the findings are ‘completely unexpected’.

World’s only blue lizard heads toward extinction

(03/07/2007) High above the forest floor on the remote Colombian island of Gorgona lives a lizard with brilliant blue skin, rivaling the color of the sky. Anolis gorgonae, or the blue anole, is a species so elusive and rare, that scientists have been unable to give even an estimate of its population. Due to the lizard&spod;s isolated habitat and reclusive habits, researchers know little about the blue anole, but are captivated by its stunning coloration.

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