Stick or grip? Co-evolution of adhesive toepads and claws in Anolis lizards

Kristen E. Crandell, Anthony Herrel, Mahmood Sasa, Jonathan B. Losos, Kellar Autumn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


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. ≥. 1. m) and non-arboreal (perch height. <. 1. m). 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-369
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Adhesion
  • Anolis
  • Claw morphology
  • Clinging
  • Toepad


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