FLYING DRAGONS – FLASHING FEMALES

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“Most of us would be familiar with the diurnal displays of male Flying Dragons (Draco sumatranus) whenever they flash their yellow gular flaps from beneath their throats. However, we are probably less familiar with the displays by females of the same species, as they are infrequently observed or reported.

“On the 28th September 2014, I had my eyes fixed on a particular female, as she was feasting on ants upon a tree. As she was doing so, she would flash her bluish gular flap ever so often (above).

“A video clip of this behaviour may be previewed below.

“Previously, on the 16th September 2014, I had also witnessed another female lizard flashing her throat flap, but this was accompanied by the full extension of her patagium (a flying membrane supported by ribs) (below).

“A video clip of this behaviour may be previewed below.”

“So, the question is: Why do the females perform such visual displays? I do not have the answer for now, but I did conjure up a few hypotheses:

1. Could the female be protective over her food supply and warning other lizards to stay away?

2. Could the female be altruistic and signal to other lizards to join in the feast?

3. Could the female be in a receptive mood and is actually advertising her availability to males nearby?

4. Could the female be expressing gastronomic delight that the flavour of this particular ant species is to her preference?

“Any other creative hypothetical contributions most welcome.”

Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
Singapore
20th October 2014

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