Field Frame Friday: Eavesdropping to survive

Although they aren’t particularly vocal themselves, Malagasy spiny-tailed iguanas (Oplurus cuvieri) have learned to distinguish the predator alarm calls of their forest coinhabitants – including from those animals’ normal vocalisations. This “eavesdropping” allows the iguanas to get away before they become a tasty snack to local birds of prey.

[Photo and caption by Meredith Lutz]

Ito, R., & Mori, A. (2010). Vigilance against predators induced by eavesdropping on heterospecific alarm calls in a non-vocal lizard Oplurus cuvieri cuvieri (Reptilia: Iguania). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences277(1685), 1275-1280.

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