Holaspis, a lizard that glided by accident: mosaics of cooption and adaptation in a tropical forest lacertid (Reptilia, Lacertidae)

  title={Holaspis, a lizard that glided by accident: mosaics of cooption and adaptation in a tropical forest lacertid (Reptilia, Lacertidae)},
  author={Edwin Nicholas. Arnold},
  journal={Bulletin of The Natural History Museum. Zoology Series},
  • E. N. Arnold
  • Published 1 November 2002
  • Biology
  • Bulletin of The Natural History Museum. Zoology Series
SYNOPSIS. Holaspis is the most morphologically apomorphic lacertid taxon with 42 or more derived morphological features arising on its exclusive lineage. Nearly all of these confer advantages in three specialised activities, or ameliorate problems resulting from them. The activities are: climbing on the often vertical open surfaces on tree boles and branches, utilising ver y narrow crevices in wood and beneath bark, and the ability, unique among lacertids, to glide from tree to tree. Although… 

Figures from this paper

Ecomorphological analysis of aerial performance in a non-specialized lacertid lizard, Holaspis guentheri

Compared aerial performance and morphology among three species of lizards, representing a range of aerial descenders present within the clade, show that very small morphological changes may result in noticeable and ecologically relevant changes in performance.

Preliminary analysis of correlated evolution of morphology and ecological diversification in lacertid lizards

Body size is the most important variable determining, a continuum among small bodied species and larger ones independently evolved through the lacertid phylogeny, and Multivariate analysis on size-adjusted variables show a negative covariation among relative tail and limb length.

The biology of gliding in flying lizards (genus Draco) and their fossil and extant analogs.

It is found that I. seifkeri likely represented the best nonflapping terrestrial vertebrate glider yet described, whereas the larger Kuehneosaurus and Coelurosauravus probably required high descent velocities to achieve sufficient lift for gliding, with commensurately greater height loss with each glide.

Convergent evolution of tail spines in squamate reptiles driven by microhabitat use

The results suggest that spiny-tailed lizards have an advantage in rocky habitats through predation avoidance, where tail spines are used to prevent extraction from rocky crevices, and highlight a complex interplay between different selective pressures on the evolution of defensive morphologies in reptiles.


Rock-dwelling lizards exhibited similarities in head depth as a result of both adaptation and exaptation, and the existence of similar advantageous structures among species independently occupying the same environment may not indicate adaptation.

Animal aloft: the origins of aerial behavior and flight.

Aerial control in the ancestrally wingless archaeognathans suggests that flight behavior preceded the origins of wings in hexapods, and the use of winglets and partial wings to effect aerial righting and maneuvers could select for enhanced appendicular motions, and ultimately lead to powered flight.

How animals glide: from trajectory to morphology

This review focuses on the physical aspects of how glide trajectories are produced, and additionally discusses the range of morphologies and postures that are used to control aerial movements across the broad diversity of animal gliders.

How animals glide: from trajectory to morphology1

This review focuses on the physical aspect of how gliders produce and control their flight from takeoff to landing, and some species are unspecialized for gliding, producing aerodynamic forces using posture and orientation alone.

Gliding and the Functional Origins of Flight: Biomechanical Novelty or Necessity?

A biomechanically parsimonious hypothesis for the evolution of flapping flight in terrestrial vertebrates suggests progression within an arboreal context from jumping to directed aerial descent,



Relationships of the South African lizards assigned to Aporosaura, Meroles and Pedioplanis (Reptilia : Lacertidae)

Phylogenetic analyses, using parsimony and compatibility methods, were carried out on the South African lacertid lizards assigned in recent times to Aporosaura, Meroles and Pedioplanis; these form successive branches on the main stem of the phylogeny of advanced lacertids.

Systematics and adaptive radiation of Equatorial African lizards assigned to the genera Adolfus, Bedriagaia, Gastropholis, Holaspis and Lacerta (Reptilia: Lacertidae)

The Equatorial African group of lacertids comprises nine species which share a number of derived features and appear to constitute a holophyletic assemblage and Adolfus jacksoni has most features in common with the hypothetical ancestor of the group, while Holaspis guentheri and the species of Gastropholis are the most derived forms.

Evolutionary aspects of tail shedding in lizards and their relatives

It is argued that loss of caudal autotomy has occurred when the costs of tail shedding outweigh its benefits and likely costs include the expense of re...

Relationships of lacertid lizards (Reptilia: Lacertidae) estimated from mitochondrial DNA sequences and morphology

DNA sequences from parts of the 12S, 16S and cytochrome b mitochondrial genes were used to estimate the relationships of 49 species of Lacertidae, supporting an origin for present lacertids in west Eurasia.

Adaptations for gliding in the lizard Draco

In connection with the detailed description of a Triassic reptile, obviously adapted for gliding because of the presence of enormously elongated and curved ribs, it became apparent that a comparative

Field guide to snakes and other reptiles of southern Africa

This edition supplements the 397 South African reptiles originally represented in this field guide by 64 new species. Some of these are new discoveries in the region, others are reclassifications.

Why do morphological phylogenies vary in quality ? An investigation based on the comparative history of lizard clades

  • E. N. Arnold
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. B. Biological Sciences
  • 1990
Examination of the robust and explicit phylogeny of the semaphore geckoes (Pristurus) suggests that its quality does stem from a variety of environmental factors, and it seems that the quality of morphological phylogenies may give some indication of the kinds of history groups have had.

Cranial Kinesis in Lizards

Difficulties exist in understanding how some features evolved, especially the development of mesokinesis, a joint between the frontal and parietal bones that combines with the metakinetic joint to make the skull amphikinetic.


The writer believes, then, that in view of the above evidence showing the existence of a former wet tropical belt across India between the eastern Himalayas and the west coast north of the

Exaptation—a Missing Term in the Science of Form

This work presents several examples of exaptation, indicating where a failure to conceptualize such an idea limited the range of hypotheses previously available, and proposes a terminological solution to the problem of preadaptation.