Contributions of pterin and carotenoid pigments to dewlap coloration in two anole species

John E. Steffen, Kevin J. McGraw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Animals can acquire bright coloration using a variety of pigmentary and microstructural mechanisms. Reptiles and amphibians are known to use two types of pigments-pterins and carotenoids-to generate their spectrum of colorful red, orange, and yellow hues. Because both pigment classes can confer all of these hues, the relative importance of pterins versus carotenoids in creating these different colors is not always apparent. We studied the carotenoid and pterin content of red and yellow dewlap regions in two neotropical anole species-the brown anole (Norops sagrei) and the ground anole (N. humilis). Pterins (likely drosopterins) and carotenoids (likely xanthophylls) were present in all tissues from all individuals. Pterins were more enriched in the lateral (red) region, and carotenoids more enriched in the midline (yellow) region in N. humilis, but pterins and carotenoids were found in similar concentrations among lateral and midline regions in N. sagrei. These patterns indicate that both carotenoid and pterin pigments are responsible for producing color in the dichromatic dewlaps of these two species, and that in these two species the two pigments interact differently to produce the observed colors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-46
Number of pages5
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology


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