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Journal Article

Function of the Blue Tail-Coloration of the Five-Lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus)

Donald R. Clark, Jr. and Russell J. Hall
Herpetologica
Vol. 26, No. 2 (Jun., 1970), pp. 271-274
Published by: Allen Press on behalf of the Herpetologists' League
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3890750
Page Count: 4

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Topics: Skinks, Juveniles, Colors, Animal tails, Predators, Jaw, Evolution, Lizards, Color vision, Herpetology
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Function of the Blue Tail-Coloration of the Five-Lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus)
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Abstract

The bright blue tail in juveniles of Eumeces fasciatus and several other species of skinks has been thought to function as a decoy, diverting the attention of predators to this "expendable part" of the body. This theory is inadequate to account for the evolution of the blue coloration, because: it overlooks the probability that a cryptically colored tail would make discovery by predators less likely; it does not account for loss of the blue coloration at maturity; and it does not explain the evolution of markedly different colors on tails of juveniles and jaws of breeding males. We propose that the blue coloration serves an intraspecific function, inhibiting attack by aggressive adult males. Inferential and experimental evidence supports this idea.

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