Published May 23, 2022. Open access.

Gallery ❯

Granular Anole (Anolis granuliceps)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis granuliceps

English common name: Granular Anole.

Spanish common names: Anolis granuloso, anolis granular, lagartija terciopelo.

Recognition: ♂♂ 18.3 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=4.7 cm. ♀♀ 17.6 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=4.9 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.3,4 The Granular Anole (Anolis granuliceps) can be distinguished from other species of Anolis with which it co-occurs (particularly A. gracilipes, A. lynchi, and A. lyra) based on dewlap and dorsum coloration. The dewlap is small and yellow with minute brown scales and the dorsum is brown with a tan paravertebral stripe and a more or less distinct dark side stripe (Fig. 1).1 The lateral band is often bordered below by a whitish fringe, which may extend to the hind limb.1 The iris is brown. Males of A. gracilipes and A. lynchi differ from A. granuliceps by having a much larger dewlap.5 Anolis lyra can be distinguished from A. granuliceps on the basis of its unique dewlap coloration: red with a discrete central dark point in males and dingy white with a central reddish-brown spot in females.6

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis granuliceps

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis granuliceps: Morromico Reserve, Chocó department, Colombia (); Canandé Reserve, Esmeraldas province, Ecuador (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Anolis granuliceps is a locally frequent anole that inhabits old-growth to moderately disturbed lowland and foothill rainforests.4,7 Granular Anoles are included in the “leaf-litter/bush” anole ecomorph because they primarily use the undergrowth and forest floor strata 0–1 m above the ground, and because they have a small body (<5.1 cm snout-vent-length), long-tail (>1.5–2 SVL), and long legs (>0.75 SVL).7,8 During the day,4 these anoles forage on leaf-litter, roots, logs, or on low herbaceous vegetation.8,9 At night, they roost on thin twigs of shrubs or at the end of fern fronds.4 The perches usually have a diameter of 5–15 cm and are 0.2–2 m above the ground.8,9 Sleeping on flimsy perches allows these reptiles to detect potential predators by sensing the vibration on the perch, to which they respond by jumping and disappearing into the dark. Granular Anoles rely primarily on their “dry leaf” camouflage to remain undetected; thus, they appear to avoid perching on bright green leaves.8 Anoles in general lay clutches of one egg at a time,10,11 but the clutch size and nesting sites of A. granuliceps are not known.

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..12 Anolis granuliceps is listed in this category given the species’ wide (estimated to be 80,303 km2)7,9 distribution over areas that retain the majority of their original forest cover.12 Although A. granuliceps occurs in protected areas and is facing no major widespread threats, it depends on well-preserved lowland rainforests, an ecosystem declining in extent and quality due to the expansion of the agricultural frontier, mining, and rural-urban development.12

Distribution: Anolis granuliceps is native to an estimated area of 80,303 km2 (73,430 km2 in Colombia7 + 6,900 km2 in Ecuador; Fig. 2) in the Chocoan lowlands and adjacent Andean foothills of western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Anolis granuliceps in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis granuliceps in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Paramba, Imbabura province. 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.13 The specific epithet granuliceps, which comes from the Latin words granuli (=granule) and ceps (=head),14 refers to the granular scales on the head.1

See it in the wild: Granular Anoles are usually found in closed-canopy situations rather than in open or semi-open areas. In Ecuador, the best localities to find lizards of this species are Canandé Reserve, Tesoro Escondido Reserve, and La Chiquita Wildlife Refuge. These lizards can be seen perching on leaves and small twigs along forest trails at night or active on leaf-litter and logs during the daytime.

Author: Angie Tovar-OrtizaAffiliation: Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.

Editor: Alejandro ArteagabAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Jose VieiracAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,dAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Tovar-Ortiz A (2022) Granular Anole (Anolis granuliceps). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/BXYS6844

Literature cited:

  1. Boulenger GA (1898) An account of the reptiles and batrachians collected by Mr. Rosenberg in western Ecuador. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 9: 107–126.
  2. Williams EE, Rand H, Rand AS, O’Hara RJ (1995) A computer approach to the comparision and identification of species in difficult taxonomic groups. Breviora 502: 1–47.
  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. MECN (2010) Serie herpetofauna del Ecuador: El Chocó esmeraldeño. Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, Quito, 232 pp.
  5. Miyata K (1985) A new Anolis of the lionotus group from northwestern Ecuador and southwestern Colombia (Sauria: Iguanidae). Breviora 481: 1–13.
  6. Poe S, Velasco J, Miyata K, Williams EE (2009) Descriptions of two nomen nudum species of Anolis lizard from Northwestern South America. Breviora 516: 1–16.
  7. Moreno-Arias R, Velasco JA, Urbina Cardona J, Cárdenas-Arévalo G, Medina Rangel G, Gutiérrez Cárdenas P, Olaya-Rodriguez M, Noguera-Urbano E (2021) Atlas de la biodiversidad de Colombia. Anolis. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Bogotá, 72 pp.
  8. Rengifo JT, Castro Herrera F, Purroy Iraizos FJ (2015) Habitat use and ecomorphology relation of an assemblage of Anolis (Lacertilia: Dactyloidae) in the Chocoan natural region from Colombia. Acta Zoológica Mexicana 31: 159–172.
  9. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  10. Blackburn D (1999) Viviparity and oviparity: evolution and reproductive strategies. In: Knobil E, Neill JD (Eds) Encyclopedia of Reproduction. Academic Press, London, 994–1003.
  11. 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.
  12. Castro F, Mayer GC (2020) Anolis granuliceps. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T178231A18972203.en
  13. Allsopp R (1996) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 776 pp.
  14. Mir J (1982) Diccionario ilustrado Latín. Barcelona, 557 pp.

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

ColombiaCaucaGuapiICN 4136
ColombiaNariñoEl CharcoICN-MHN-Rep-4159
ColombiaNariñoEstación Mar AgrícolaPinto-Erazo et al. 2020
ColombiaNariñoImbiliICN 56187
ColombiaNariñoLa GuayacanaICN 4158
ColombiaNariñoRío MiraICN 4149
ColombiaNariñoTangareal del MiraMCZ 159593
EcuadorCarchiRío BabosoTorres-Carvajal et al. 2019
EcuadorCarchiRío MiraUMMZ 59002
EcuadorEsmeraldasAlto Río CachabiUSNM 234712
EcuadorEsmeraldasAlto TamboUSNM 234714
EcuadorEsmeraldasBoca del Río San MiguelMCZ 153160
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé Biological ReserveThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé Reserve, 10 km E ofiNaturalist
EcuadorEsmeraldasCarondeletUIMNH 54569
EcuadorEsmeraldasDurangoThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasEl Placer, 2 km W ofUSNM 234702
EcuadorEsmeraldasGuadual–Río MiraLuis Coloma, pers. comm.
EcuadorEsmeraldasItapoa ReserveThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote RoseroThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasPichiyacuTorres-Carvajal et al. 2019
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío BogotáUSNM 234713
EcuadorEsmeraldasSalto del BravoSUBIR 2004
EcuadorEsmeraldasSan JavierUIMNH 82905
EcuadorEsmeraldasTesoro Escondido ReserveOnline multimedia
EcuadorEsmeraldasVerdecanandéThis work
EcuadorImbaburaLitaKU 133495
EcuadorImbaburaMouth of Río Lita, 2 km S ofUSNM 234701
EcuadorImbaburaParamba*Boulenger 1898