Lateralization in Lizards: Evidence of Presence in Several Contexts

  • Beatrice Bonati
  • Davide Csermely


Recent research has provided information about the right-eye mediation of predatory tasks in several taxa of ectotherms, while antipredatory and exploratory behaviours are generally mediated by the left eye. This type of visual specialisation allows individuals to hunt and to remain vigilant at the same time. However, very little is known about such specialisation in sauropsids. In this study, we report on several different experiments which have investigated the presence of lateralization in the lacertid Podarcis muralis lizard, for predatory, antipredatory, and exploratory behaviours. We found right-eye control in prey detection in a T-maze and in a detour test. In contrast, in escape behaviour from a simulated predator, we found that lizards significantly preferred to escape to the right, and once at a safe distance, to turn their head back towards the left in order to review the source of the threat, thereby supporting a left-eye mediated processing of antipredatory stimuli. In experiments investigating the exploration of a new environment, a strong left-eye bias was found once again. Finally, with individual lizards tested in experimental situations of both predation and exploration, we confirmed once again a right-eye visual system for controlling predatory cues and a left-eye visual system for controlling exploratory cues, supporting the hypothesis that cerebral specialisation of functions allows the simultaneous performance of important tasks as part of the daily routine.


Exploratory Behaviour Predatory Behaviour Antipredatory Behaviour Predatory Experiment Fearful Stimulus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Laterality Index



We thank both the Parma Provincial Administration for the permission to capture lizards and the “El Ventorillo” MNCN Field Station for using their facilities. We are also grateful to Andrew Robins for the valuable comments and English revision to an earlier draft. The studies summarised in this chapter were supported by the European Community (1st Programme Structuring the European Research Area, under SYNTHESYS, at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales [CSIC]), by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación project MCI-CGL2008-02119/BOS, by the Italian Ministero dell’Istruzione, Università e Ricerca, and by doctoral grants from the University of Parma to B.B.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della Cognizione e della FormazioneUniversità di TrentoRoveretoItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Biologia Evolutiva e Funzionale, Sez. Museo di Storia NaturaleUniversità di ParmaParmaItaly

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