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Remarkable Local Colour-variation in Lizards
(S293: 1878)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Portions of a letter from the Baron de Basterot that Wallace relayed to the Editor of Nature. It was printed under this title, with Wallace's introduction, on page 4 of the issue of 7 November 1878. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S293.htm

    The following extract from a letter received some months since from Baron de Basterot, of Rome (a Fellow of the Geological Society of London), records an interesting case of local colour-variation, about which some of your correspondents may be able to give us further information:--

    "Capri is a mass of the usual yellowish-white Apennine limestone, forming precipitous cliffs nearly all round the island. At its southern extremity are three high and nearly inaccessible rocks called I Faraglioni, one of which, pierced by a natural arch, has been frequently depicted by artists. Two of these rocks are completely detached from the mainland, and, I need hardly add, uninhabited.

    "On the island, and on the first of the Faraglioni rocks which is connected with it, the lizards are of the usual species so common in Italy--coloured grey, mixed with more or less green. On the two outward Faraglioni rocks, which are completely separated from the shore, their colour is totally different. The back is of a blue so dark as to appear nearly black; the sides of a brilliant blue, like lapis-lazuli; the belly light whitish-blue, with a very slight tinge of green.

    "An English gentleman whom I met in Capri had several of these lizards alive, which had become quite tame in the course of a couple of months. I believe he intends bringing them to England. He is of opinion that they differ in colour only from the lizards of the island, and that, though very different in appearance, they are the same species.

    "Whether this be so, or whether they are specifically different, their presence on these isolated rocks and their total absence on the island is equally remarkable."


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