Embryonic behaviour in the lizard, Lacerta vivipara

Authors

  • Arthur Hughes,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Bristol, and Department of Anatomy, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London
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  • Susan V. Bryant,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Bristol, and Department of Anatomy, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London
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  • A. D'A. Bellairs

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Bristol, and Department of Anatomy, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London
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    • *Honorary Herpetologist, The Zoological Society of London.


Abstract

The behaviour of embryos of the lizard Lacerta vivipara has been studied in cultured eggs, removed from the mother. Spontaneous movements begin at a time when the embryo is still unresponsive to touch, and about two days before the appearance of reflex responses. The earliest movements consist of lateral flexion which gradually gives place to dorsiventral flexion. Embryonic movements are not necessarily related to contractions of the amnion. The activity of the embryo, as measured by the number of times movements were initiated and the amount of time spent in activity during a half hour period, rises to a plateau and then decreases sharply as the time of hatching approaches. Activity of the tail is prominent, particularly at times when other movements occur in rapid succession. Serpentine movements were not observed in embryos younger than stage 39; some prematurely born animals showed such activity in response to contact with the substratum. During embryonic life any part of the animal may move individually or in combination with any other part, such combined movements being unco-ordinated. In these respects the spontaneous motility of the lizard embryo closely resembles that of the chick. Statistical analysis of the embryonic movements provides evidence of rhythmic activity within the developing central nervous system.

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