Homing behaviour in the sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa): the role of visual cues and the parietal eye
To investigate how visual cues are integrated into a navigational strategy for homing in the Australian sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa), lizards were displaced beyond their home range, either with full access to visual cues or with no access to visual cues during the displacement. Homeward orientation was significantly worse when lizards were denied visual cues during the displacement than when they were not. However when lizards were displaced with their field of view restricted to the sky, their homeward orientation was equally as good as that of lizards displaced with no visual restriction. These experiments suggest that sleepy lizards use celestial cues to determine the compass bearing of the outward journey, and reverse this bearing to orient in the homeward direction (course reversal). In a subsequent experiment, lizards oriented randomly with respect to home when the parietal eye was entirely covered with a patch during the displacement and return, while control lizards fitted with a sham parietal eye patch were well oriented towards home. In both groups, the lateral eyes were unobstructed and had complete access to visual cues including celestial cues and landmarks. These results suggest that the parietal eye plays a highly significant role in sleepy lizard homing, perhaps mediating a sky polarization compass sense.
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