Exploring the relationship between phenotype and performance in an ecological and evolutionary context is crucial to understanding the adaptive nature of phenotypic traits. Despite their ubiquity in vertebrates, few studies have examined the functional and ecological significance of claw morphologies. Here we examine the adhesive toepad and claw system of Anolis lizards. Claw characters are significantly different between lizards classified as arboreal (perch height>/=1m) and non-arboreal (perch height<1m). Arboreal species possess significantly higher and longer claws, and show trends toward decreased claw curvature and wider claw tip angles. Toepad size and claw length and height are tightly correlated with each other and with perch height, suggesting that the adhesive toepad and gripping claw have co-evolved to accommodate different habitats. The functional morphology and evolution of claws are ripe areas for future investigation.
Crandell, Kristen EHerrel, AnthonySasa, MahmoodLosos, Jonathan BAutumn, KellarengResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.GermanyJena, Germany2014/07/30 06:00Zoology (Jena). 2014 Dec;117(6):363-9. doi: 10.1016/j.zool.2014.05.001. Epub 2014 Jul 1.