The Island of Extremes: Giants and Dwarfs on a Small Remote Island

Yuval Itescu, Johannes Foufopoulos, Rachel Schwarz, Petros Lymberakis, Alex Slavenko, Ioanna-Aikaterini Gavriilidi, Shai Meiri, Panayiotis Pafilis


Body size evolution on islands is widely studied and hotly debated. Gigantism and dwarfism are thought to evolve under strong natural selection, especially on small remote islands. We report a curious co-occurrence of both dwarf and giant lizards on the same small, remote island (Plakida): the largest Podarcis erhardii (Lacertidae) and smallest Mediodactylus kotschyi sensu lato; Gekkonidae — the two commonest insular reptiles in the Aegean Sea. The geckos of Plakida have a peculiar tail-waving behavior, documented here for the first time in this genus. We suspect that P. erhardii evolved large size to consume geckos and the geckos evolved a unique tail-waving behavior as a defensive mechanism.


Aegean Sea islands; body size; geckos; lizards; tail autotomy; tail waving

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