Lizards may be smarter than you think

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

If you thought reptiles were some of the least intelligent creatures in the animal kingdom, well, you might want to reconsider.

Yes, researchers at Duke University believe the Puerto Rican anole lizard is at least as smart as the average bird.

During a recent study, the lizards proved themselves capable of solving new problems and even remembering/adapting the solution to solve future tests.

As part of the study, lizards were presented with two covered wells, one of which had a worm in it, the other of which was empty.

To get the worm, the lizards had to take the cap off the well by either biting it or pushing it off. On average, the lizards were able to get the cap off with three fewer tries than their avian counterparts.

"They'd put their snout under the little plastic chip and then quickly bump it," researcher Manuel Leal said in a statement. "They don't do this in the wild."

Scientists raised the stakes by putting a brightly colored cap over the worm well and a dull colored cap on the empty well. The lizards quickly learned to associate the brightly colored cap with dinner. When scientists switched the dull cap to the worm well, two out of four lizards learned to remove the dull cap instead of the bright cap after only a few trials.

Hey man, a lizard's gotta eat!

McGill University's Louis Lefebvre said the study doesn't necessarily mean  lizards are smarter than birds because birds have larger body-to-brain ratios. However, he does concede anoles may be one of the smartest reptiles.

"We know birds and mammals have bigger brains and that within bird species and within mammal species, the bigger the brain is, the higher the chance of that larger-brained species making it when moving to a new environment," Lefebvre said. "It may be the same with lizards."

With over 400 species of anoles in the reptile class, these lizards seem particularly adept at adapting and thriving in new environments.

(Via Mongabay)