Published December 13, 2022. Updated December 22, 2023. Open access.

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Blue-throated Anole (Anolis bombiceps)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis bombiceps

English common name: Blue-throated Anole, Blue-lipped Forest Anole, Surprise Anole.

Spanish common names: Anolis gargantiazul, anolis de labios azules.

Recognition: ♂♂ 20.6 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=7.1 cm. ♀♀ 21.4 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=7.4 cm..1,2 Anoles are easily distinguishable from other lizards by their diurnal habits, extensible dewlap in males, expanded digital pads, and granular scales on the dorsum and belly.3 The Blue-throated Anole (Anolis bombiceps) can be differentiated from other anoles that inhabit the Amazonian lowlands of Ecuador, especially the superficially similar A. scypheus, by having an entirely blue dewlap.14 The only other anole with a blue dewlap in eastern Ecuador is A. hyacintogularis, but this species occupies a different altitudinal gradient.5 Males of A. bombiceps differ from females by having a larger dewlap and a thickening at the base of the tail due to the presence of hemipenes.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis bombiceps

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis bombiceps from Loreto, Peru.

Natural history: Anolis bombiceps is a frequently encountered anole in Loreto, Peru, but it is extremely rare in Ecuador, where there are less than 10 confirmed records.6,7 This species inhabits pristine lowland terra firme rainforest, forest edges, and seasonally-flooded forests.8,9 Blue-throated Anoles are diurnal and prefer to thermoregulate in the shade on logs and leaf-litter.8 They are primarily terrestrial and occasionally climb to shrubs and tree trunks no more than three meters above the ground.1,10,11 At night, they roost on leaves 3–5 cm above the ground.12 Blue-throated Anoles are passive foragers that feed on small invertebrates,1 such as mites and neuroptera.13

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..7 Anolis bombiceps is listed in this category given species’ wide distribution, presence in protected areas, lack of widespread threats, and presumed large stable populations.7

Distribution: Anolis bombiceps is distributed throughout the upper Amazon basin of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador (Fig. 2), and Peru.

Distribution of Anolis bombiceps in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis bombiceps in Ecuador. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Anolis is thought to have originated from Cariban languages, specifically from the word anoli, which is the name Arawak peoples may have used to refer to this group of lizards.14 The specific epithet bombiceps is a combination of the Latin words bombus (meaning “booming”) and ceps (meaning “head”).15 It probably refers to the shape of the head, originally described as being “convex above with very large orbits.”16

See it in the wild: Blue-throated Anoles are extremely difficult to find in Ecuador. In this country, the only locality where this species has been found reliably is in Comunidad Santa Rosa, Pastaza province. The anoles are easier to spot at night as they are sleeping on green leaves or branches a few centimeters off the ground.

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Lina Parra for helping compile the information presented here, to Andrés Pérez for creating the photos used in this account, and to Joaquin Lozano for allowing us to photograph of his specimens of Anolis bombiceps.

Authors: Jose VieiraaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,bAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador. and Alejandro ArteagacAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Andrés Pérez SalernobAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Vieira J, Arteaga A (2022) Blue-throated Anole (Anolis bombiceps). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/WMIZ6020

Literature cited:

  1. Dixon JR, Soini P (1986) The reptiles of the upper Amazon Basin, Iquitos region, Peru. Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, 154 pp.
  2. D’Angiolella AB, Gamble T, Avila-Pires TCS, Colli GR, Noonan BP, Vitt LJ (2011) Anolis chrysolepis Duméril and Bibron, 1837 (Squamata: Iguanidae), revisited: molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of the Anolis chrysolepis species group. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 160: 35–63. DOI: 10.3099/0027-4100-160.2.35
  3. Peters JA, Donoso-Barros R (1970) Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: part II, lizards and amphisbaenians. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, Washington, D.C., 293 pp.
  4. Avila-Pires TCS (1995) Lizards of Brazilian Amazonia (Reptilia: Squamata). Zoologische Verhandelingen 299: 1–706.
  5. Torres-Carvajal O, Ayala-Varela FP, Lobos SE, Poe S, Narváez AE (2017) Two new Andean species of Anolis lizard (Iguanidae: Dactyloinae) from southern Ecuador. Journal of Natural History 52: 1067–1089. DOI: 10.1080/00222933.2017.1391343
  6. Ortega-Andrade HM (2010) Diversidad de la herpetofauna en la centro Amazonía de Ecuador. MSc thesis, Instituto de Ecología, A.C., 150 pp.
  7. Castañeda MR, Caicedo JR, Renjifo J, Perez P, Gagliardi G, Avila-Pires TCS, Cisneros-Heredia DF (2014) Anolis bombiceps. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T44577278A44577287.en
  8. Ayala-Varela F (2004) Revisión taxonómica y de variación geográfica de las especies de Anolis (Sauria: Polychrotidae) del Oriente Ecuatoriano. BSc thesis, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, 204 pp.
  9. Morales VR, McDiarmid RW (1996) Annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Pakitza, Manu National Park Reserve Zone, with comments on the herpetofauna of Madre de Dios, Peru. In: Wilson DE (Ed) Manu: the biodiversity of southeastern Peru. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 503–522.
  10. Duellman WE (1989) Tropical herpetofaunal communities: patterns of community structure in neotropical rainforests. In: Harmelin-Vivien ML, Bourliere F (Eds) Vertebrates in complex tropical systems. Springer-Verlag, New York City, 61–88.
  11. Ribeiro-Junior MA (2015) Catalogue of distribution of lizards (Reptilia: Squamata) from the Brazilian Amazonia. I. Dactyloidae, Hoplocercidae, Iguanidae, Leiosauridae, Polychrotidae, Tropiduridae. Zootaxa 3983: 001–110. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3983.1.1
  12. Duellman WE, Mendelson JR (1995) Amphibians and reptiles from northern departamento Loreto, Peru: taxonomy and biogeography. The University of Kansas Science Bulletin 55: 329–376. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.part.779
  13. Landauro CZ, Morales V (2007) Ensamblaje ecológico en las lagartijas arbóreas (Squamata, Polychrotidae, Anolis) en la Amazonía sur del Perú. Biotempo 7: 55–60. DOI: 10.31381/biotempo.v7i0.873
  14. Allsopp R (1996) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 776 pp.
  15. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.
  16. Cope ED (1875) Report on the reptiles brought by Professor James Orton from the middle and upper Amazon and western Peru. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 8: 159–183.

Appendix 1: Locality data used to create the distribution map of Anolis bombiceps in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

ColombiaAmazonasAlrededores Lago TarairaICN 8141
ColombiaAmazonasLeticia, 6 km NW ofRibeiro-Júnior 2015
ColombiaAmazonasPuerto NariñoRibeiro-Júnior 2015
ColombiaAmazonasRío AmacayacuRibeiro-Júnior 2015
ColombiaAmazonasRio IgaráICN 2751
ColombiaVaupésCerro FlechaiNaturalist
ColombiaVaupésTimboAvila-Pires 1995
EcuadorNapoPuerto NapoMCZ 87248
EcuadorPastazaComunidad Santa RosaTorres-Carvajal et al. 2019
EcuadorPastazaConamboOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaKurintzaMauricio Ortega, pers. comm.
EcuadorPastazaRío BufeoOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaRío HuiyayacuOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaRío ShionayacuOrtega-Andrade 2010
PeruLoretoCampo AndoasValqui Schult 2015
PeruLoretoCapamento ChoroVon May & Mueses-Cisneros 2011
PeruLoretoCentro UniónAvila-Pires 1995
PeruLoretoEstirónDixon & Soini 1975
PeruLoretoJunction of rivers Napo and SucusariKU 222361
PeruLoretoMishanaAvila-Pires 1995
PeruLoretoMoroponAvila-Pires 1995
PeruLoretoNautaDixon & Soini 1975
PeruLoretoRío AmpiyacuDixon & Soini 1975
PeruLoretoRío NanayAvila-Pires 1995