Body Evolution in Island Lizards by Red Orbit staff Millions of…

Body Evolution in Island Lizards

by Red Orbit staff

Millions of years before humans began battling it out over beachfront property, a similar phenomenon was unfolding in a diverse group of island lizards.

Often mistaken for chameleons or geckos, Anolis lizards fight fiercely for resources, responding to rivals by doing push-ups and puffing out their throat pouches. But anoles also compete in ways that shape their bodies over evolutionary time, says a new study in the journal Evolution.

Anolis lizards colonized the Caribbean from South America some 40 million years ago and quickly evolved a wide range of shapes and sizes. “When anoles first arrived in the islands there were no other lizards quite like them, so there was abundant opportunity to diversify,” said author Luke Mahler of Harvard University.

Free from rivals in their new island homes, Anolis lizards evolved differences in leg length, body size, and other characteristics as they adapted to different habitats. Today, the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico “” collectively known as the Greater Antilles “” are home to more than 100 Anolis species, ranging from lanky lizards that perch in bushes, to stocky, long-legged lizards that live on tree trunks, to foot-long ‘giants’ that roam the upper branches of trees…

(read more: Red orbit)    (photo: Luke Mahler)

Slinky Drop What happens when a slinky that has been extended…

Slinky Drop

What happens when a slinky that has been extended under its own weight is released? How does it fall to the ground?

Slinky Drop Answer

How does a slinky fall when extended by its own weight and then released? We discover the surprising answer using a slow motion camera that records 300 frames per second.

Slinky Drop Extended

The answer to the question - what happens to a tennis ball tied to the bottom of a slinky after the top of the slinky is let go?

Pygmy Anole (Anolis occultus) The Pygmy Anole is a canopy…

Pygmy Anole (Anolis occultus)

The Pygmy Anole is a canopy dwelling lizard species found in the mountains of Puerto Rico. It does not appear to be related to any other Puerto Rican Anolis species.

Anolis occultus is a small lizard about 1 ¼ inches (31. 75 millimeters) in snout-to-vent length. It is a slender species with short limbs and tail and a downward sloping snout. Unlike other anolis lizards, both sexes are almost identical in appearance. It has been theorized, but not proven that A. occultus might be monogamous.

The Pygmy Anole usually sleeps on twigs or vines with its tail curled around the perch. When threatened it often makes a persistent squeaking noise. Its movements are usually slow and cautious; the eyes are protuberant and capable of independent movement…

(read more: USDA - Forest Service - El Yunque Nat. Forest)

(photo: Jonathan Losos)

Hello! I was wondering if you knew anything about the anolis genus. I would specifically really like to see the anolis occultus, since I never managed to and it was of importance in a conference I watched. I’d always like to know more about the occultus if you happen to be familiar with it, it’s a very interesting kind of anolis. Thank you*

I know about those Anoles native to or currently naturalized tot he United States, but I must admit that I know very little about A. occultus. Here is something I found though…

Peach-faced Lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis), Wingham Wildlife…

Peach-faced Lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis), Wingham Wildlife Park, Kent, England

* In the wild, it is found in arid regions of SW Africa.

(photo: Kevin Law)