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Experimental evolution

October 4, 2017

Jonathan Losos describes how he quickly drove the evolution of a species of anole:

[A]n ideal experiment would be to expose a lizard species to new conditions, a new habitat, and we would have clear predictions about how they would adapt to that habitat. So that’s exactly what we did. Working in the Bahamas, we were able to take a species that lives on broad tree trunks near the ground and move it to tiny little islands where there were no big trees, there were only scraggly little bushes. So they had to use narrow little surfaces to sit on. Our prediction was very clear from our studies on the big island — that they should adapt by evolving shorter legs. And that’s exactly what they did and over a relatively short period of time.

anoleAn interesting followup question is how long the new line must remain separate from the old, before the two won’t interbreed when brought together? The photo left shows a Texas anole displaying its neck sack. It has evolved to enjoy patios and planters.

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