Remarkable Colour-Variation in Lizards


MR. WALLACE'S observations in NATURE, vol. xix. p. 4, on a black variety of the common lizard of Capri, as met with on the neighbouring islet of Faraglioni, induces me to refer to a similar appearance in the lizards frequenting the islet of Filfla, on the southern coast of Malta. As recorded in my book, “Notes of a Naturalist in the Nile Valley and Malta”, p. 80, I have stated that during a visit to Filfla I was surprised to find that all the lizards on the rock were a beautiful bronze black and so much tamer than their timider brethren on the mainland. Many individuals were so tame that they scrambled about our feet and fed on the refuse of our luncheon. I subsequently sent specimens of this variety, or rather race, to Dr. Günther, F.R.S., who pronounced them identical with the Podarcis muralis, so extremely plentiful in Malta and Gozo. Now although the denizens of the two latter islands present divers shades of colouring I never observed (and I looked carefully during several years) a black or dark-coloured individual. Filfla is about 600 yards in circumference and three miles distant from Malta. It is formed of the upper miocene limestone, and marks an important fault or down-throw which runs along the coast of Malta opposite, by which, as seen in the sketches Figs. 1 and 2 of the work referred to, it appears clear that the severance took place long subsequent to the days of the pigmy elephants, hippos, giant dormice and tortoises, whose remains have been found in such abundance in the crevices of the rocks opposite Filfla. There is no verdure on this bare rock-islet, the surface of which is dark-coloured, whilst its crevices shelter the lizards and furnish abodes for the nests of Manx and cenereous shearwaters, whose docility at the breeding season is equally remarkable, both reptile and birds being like their compeers of Enoch Arden's island, “so wild that they were tame.”

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ADAMS, A. Remarkable Colour-Variation in Lizards. Nature 19, 53 (1878).

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