Sexual dimorphism in lizard body shape

the roles of sexual selection and fecundity selection

Mats Olsson*, Richard Shine, Erik Wapstra, Beata Ujvari, Thomas Madsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

177 Citations (Scopus)


Sexual dimorphism is widespread in lizards, with the most consistently dimorphic traits being head size (males have larger heads) and trunk length (the distance between the front and hind legs is greater in females). These dimorphisms have generally been interpreted as follows: (1) large heads in males evolve through male-male rivalry (sexual selection); and (2) larger interlimb lengths in females provide space for more eggs (fecundity selection). In an Australian lizard (the snow skink, Niveoscincus microlepidotus), we found no evidence for ongoing selection on head size. Trunk length, however, was under positive fecundity selection in females and under negative sexual selection in males. Thus, fecundity selection and sexual selection work in concert to drive the evolution of sexual dimorphism in trunk length in snow skinks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1538-1542
Number of pages5
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


  • Fecundity selection
  • Lizards
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Sexual selection

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