Florida lizards evolve before eyes of scientists

| 14/11/2014

(CNS): The process of evolution, in the lizard world at least, appears to be far quicker than biologists have previously assumed after scientists have documented the evolution of a native Florida lizard in as little as 15 years as a result of pressure from an invading species. Researchers found that after contact with the invader, Carolina anoles or green anoles, began perching higher in trees. Then, generation after generation, their feet evolved to become better at gripping the thinner, smoother branches found higher up. Scientists have always believed it takes generations and generations to adapt  a favoured trait but they have now discovered that change can occur at an astonishing pace.

Since Darwin’s time, biologists assumed that evolution takes centuries, or longer, but these findings are changing that view according to the research published in scientific journals.

Evolution is down to ecological conditions that favour certain traits over others among any species. When those with the favoured traits survive in changing conditions and reproduce the population over generations can change dramatically, or branch off into multiple new species.

However the Florida lizards changed much more quickly after moving to higher perches and over 15 years and just 20 lizard generations, their toe pads had become larger, with stickier scales on the feet.

“We did predict that we’d see a change, but the degree and quickness with which they evolved was surprising,” said Yodel Stuart, a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Texas in Austin and lead author of the study said.

“To put this shift in perspective, if human height were evolving as fast as these lizards’ toes, the height of an average American man would increase from about 5 foot 9 inches today to about 6 foot 4 inches within 20 generations—an increase that would make the average U.S. male the height of an NBA shooting guard,” said Stuart. “Although humans live longer than lizards, this rate of change would still be rapid in evolutionary terms.”

The native anoles, are common in the south-eastern US but the invasive species, Cuban anoles or brown anoles, are native to Cuba and the Bahamas. Brown anoles first appeared in South Florida in the 1950s, possibly as stowaways in agricultural shipments, and have since spread across the south-eastern US and have even jumped to Hawaii.

This latest study is one of only a few well-documented examples of what evolutionary biologists call “character displacement,” in which similar species competing with each other evolve differences to take advantage of different ecological niches. A classic example comes from the finches studied by Charles Darwin. Two species of finch in the Galapagos Islands diverged in beak shape as they adapted to different food sources.

 

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (54)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Its a good thing we have competent  Deans and a President whom significantly leverage thier religion at out local University…otherwise it would take generations to undue any damage and  mess a group of incompetent religous hacks would have on current and future generations by supplanting outdated ideas that would make the future generations a laughing stock in the real scientific world.

     

    I mean, after-all, we need to teach our kids that remaining dogmatic to the christian belief will mean they can get promoted faster, and the more actors and beggars we can produce at our university, the better….right?

    • Anonymous says:

      I like the fact that our christian university does not stress critical thinking, because that would mean less people in church and less money for the churches. Also critical thinking means you have to actually communicate, and that can be hard for a management style that likes to just bark orders at thier faculty. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I hope that you are neither a member of the faculty or the student body at UCCI since your command of the English language is rather poor.   

      "Its", "whom significantly", "thier", "undue", "religous", "supplanting" (used incorrectly), and "after-all". And you need to learn proper punctuation. Your first sentence-paragraph is a real mess, and the second is not much better. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Creationists.  Odd lot.  Are there credible scientists who are not religious who beleive that life all appeared ready formed on earth at the same time? 

  3. Bill says:

    God did this.  There is no such thing as evolution.  I should know, I go to church every Saturday and read parts of a book once.

    • Anonymous says:

      In a conflict between dogma and truth, truth eventually wins out except in the minds of the utterly brainwashed.

  4. Anonyanmous says:

    This reminds me of what is happening now in Cayman with the green iguanas.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, we evolve a lot quicker than the native iguanas. It is why we will survive and the local one will not

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow blue iguanas, are you even trying?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey!  The blue iguanas all swam to Cayman from Mt Arrarat after Noah let them out of the ark.  They are still recovering from that highly improbable journey.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Most people, including Christians, accept micro-evolution such as apparently occurred in this case. Macro evolution the supposed evolution of a whole new species or genera from another is altogether a different argument for which there is no proof.  http://www.kolbecenter.org/darwin-was-right-information-and-the-collapse-of-macroevolutionary-theory/

    • Anonymous says:

      This is obviously the new "argument" by the myopic christians.

      • Anonymous says:

        It's not new at all. Catholics have been espousing this for the past 50 years. And it is not only Christians who take that view – many secular scientists do.

        • Anonymous says:

          No, the misconstruction of the genuine scientific discussions about whether there is free-standing macroevolution (as opposed to major divergences created by cumulative microevolution) is a recent straw-man developed by ever more desperate creationists.  Given up on the world appearing by magic guys, itundermines the chances of people buying into the rest of the package.

      • Unison says:

        Think of it:  A comet traveling faster than the speed of sound, and they place a manmade device in space over more than a100 million miles away from earth that can travel fast just like the comet… and then somehow they catch up with the comet and manage to place robot philea on it. Wow!  The whole world wonders and believes because of pics and its in the news!  They would believe in the News without evidence anyday and condemn you if you believe in God without evidence! Now they can tell everyone that there isn't a God and intelligent life came from a comet!  This is just the beginning …

        Not to scare anyone, but in the book of Revelation 13:13-14, it is interesting it states that "the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. It performed great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of everyone. It deceived the inhabitants of the earth with the signs it was allowed to perform in the sight of the first beast, telling them to make an image for the beast who had been wounded by the sword and revived." It is interesting that the News media transmits from outer space signals and messages that goes thru our televisions and enter into our minds. In a sense "making fire come down from heaven" and giving us movies and what's on the news. Electricity is fireno doubt. So the whole world like the book says "wonders after the beast" that appears to be the same like a false prophet in Bible days.

        In our modern times, it is no surprise how everyone is so caught up in believing the big news media houses [in a sense] telling the world "to make an image", in other words, conform your mind to what they say and teach!  You say there is no evidence for a God, but how dare you question what they say. We see in Germany the whole nation at one time believed everything the news media houses where saying. Hitler use them well to exterminate Jews. The news media is responsible for shaping the minds of millions upon millions of young people; especially Hollywood has re-defined what love is  – those who are easily led to follow "the beast", end up opposing anti-abortionist, environmentalist, people who want peace and democracy into the world. In other words, any thing godly or of absolute morality, they end up opposing. The media is on their side.

        If the rosetta feat is true, so be it!  At this point I don't care. What worries me as a spiritual person, is the fact that everyone is stuck on what the news say and beleive everything they say is true! It is like in those ancient days of people stuck on the false prophets, it is a repeat in history of what it means to follow man/ authorities over God. The whole world is deliberately being shaped and that is why parents should be very very very concern of the revolationary drive behind technology (the phones, the TV, the computers, the gadgets) –  immorality has never been so accelerated to such an extreme before since the 1980's.

        But just like there is a consequence to everything in life, on the moral / spiritual plane there are consequences too.   

        • Anonymous says:

          Electricity is the flow of electrons. Fire is chemical compounds being oxidized. Not the same thing.

          In any case, the issue with man kind today is inability to think critically. Be it what’s showed to them on the news or shouted to them from the pulpit.

        • Anonymous says:

          Frankly things 500 years ago, were a lot less moral then today and things were a lot more religous back then. Amazing how every generation thinks theirs is the worst. The church has been one of the most destructive inventions in man's histiroy. Killing anyone that disagreed to their own tenants all in the name of Jesus, Amen

        • Anonymous says:

          Lovely.  It is apparently wrong to ask for evidence for God. . . .

        • Anonymous says:

          Obviously you have been blinded by your faith.  Immorality has been around since the dawn of man and is how man has been able to survive wars, famine and pestilence.  You obviously only read the scriptures you are told to read or you would have known that even the bible describes many of the cultures from ancient days including the Jews having great orgies to bale etc.  The Greeks and Romans were well known for their open love for both men and women.  The catholic church and the dark ages changed the way people looked towards each other and the super oppression of man happened by them. In the twenties people began to see that and then in the fifties and sixties people began to revolt against this oppression.  I think if you did your own research you might be surprised that this generation is not all that immoral compared to that period oftime.  Oh and by the way…there are more non Christians in this world than Christians..always were and always will be.  Don’t judge the whole world by your oppression goggles.

    • Anonymous says:

      What nonsense.  Macroevolution is simply microevolution observed over a longer time frame, as the accumulation of evolutionary events.  It is an evolutionary process, the clue is in the title.  Otherwise you would not have ears developed from the jaws of fish.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually macro-evolution has not been observed at all. I daresay the distinguished scientist who wrote the linked article knows evolution a great deal better than you. 

        • Anonymous says:

          It depends on what is meant by "macroevolution".  If it is used in the sense of quantum leaps at above a species level, then whether it exists or not has nothing to do with the creationist debate.

        • Diogenes says:

          Actually it has.  http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard/kenyon.html  Just because Prof Kenyon knows more about evolution than the poster does not mean Kenyon is right in his conclusions.  I may as well say that Richard Dawkins knows more about the subject than you, but I suspect you would be reluctant to accept you were therefore wrong šŸ˜‰  Faith is a core principle of religion – perhaps you should stick to it rather than trying to rely on logic or science. 

          • Anonymous says:

            Why? I am on pretty solid ground. I am not sure why you linked that affidavit of Kenyon which  supports my point and in no way does it state that macro-evolution has been observed.  You've got it turned around. Evolutionists are relying on faith rather than logic or science since true science – that which is falsifiable – does not bear it out. Neo-Darwinian evolution is mathematically impossible. Life can neither have begun nor evolved by random action according to mathematical probability given the estimated age of the earth as per geologists and cosmologists. Fred Hoyle recognised that which is why he postulated the panspermia idea.

            • Fred the Piemaker says:

              Try reading the links – they have some interesting examples of exactly that in the fossil record. 

              • Anonymous says:

                Fossils cannot show the descent of one species from the next. That is simply a narrative that is made up to explain similarities between different species.

                  "…Fossils may tell us many things, but one thing they can never disclose is whether they were ancestors of anything else." – Dr. Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History (from one of the links you wanted me to read).

                 

              • Anonymous says:

                "There is no doubt that as far as his macroevolutionary claims were concerned Darwin's central problem in the Origin lay in the fact that he had absolutely no direct empirical evidence in the existence of clear-cut intermediates that evolution on a major scale had ever occurred and that any of the major divisions of nature had been crossed gradually through a sequence of transitional forms" – 'Evolution: a Theory in Crisis' by Michael Denton. Denton gained a medical degree from Bristol University in 1969 and a PhD in biochemistry from King's College, London University in 1974. He was senior research fellow in the Biochemistry Dept. at the University of Otago, New Zealand from 1990-2005. He later was a scientific researcher in the field of genetic eye diseases. He is an agnostic.  

                 

      • Anonymous says:

        Here is Prof.Kenyon's C.V. He received a BSc in physics from the University of Chicago in 1961 and a Ph.D. in biophysics from Stanford University in 1965. In 1965-1966 he was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemical Biodynamics at the University of California, Berkeley, a Research Associate at Ames Research Center. In 1966, he started as an Assistant Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University and became Emeritus in 2001.

        And who are you again?

        • Diogenes says:

          Russell F. Doolittle ( he earned a B.A. in Biology from Wesleyan University in 1952, and an M.A. in Education from Trinity College in 1957. He earned his Ph.D in biochemistry at Harvard University in 1962 with research in blood clotting.  He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1984, was a Guggenheim Fellow and is a co-recipient of the Paul Ehrlich Prize. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1985. In addition, he has calculated the date of the divergence of all life forms from a common ancestor. In 2006, Doolittle was awarded the John J. Carty Award from the National Academy of Sciences

          Gee this is fun.  We can quote CVs of scientists on both sides of the argument all day long.   

          • Anonymous says:

            You are missing the point. It is often portrayed that anyone who disagrees with neo-Darwinism is ignorant and anti-science, but the difference is not about the science it is about the ideology of those who wish to paint God out of the picture at all costs.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a load of poppycock. You'll be saying we went to the moon in a refrigerator next.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Evolution?  Surely you mean "magic"?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Horizontal evoution+adaptations within any species is what gives diversity, and is accepted by Christians+scientists alike!
    However, lateral evolution between species has never been proven.
    That’s why evolution is still called a Theory and not a scientifically-proven Law (like Gravity etc)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Evolution doesn't happen in Cayman. We're a God fearing nation. 

    • Anonyanmous says:

      Evolution does happen in Cayman, yes we are God fearing but I've seen evolution and transformation happen in Cayman over the last 35 years right before my very eyes.  It's mind boggling. The Caymanian race have evolved from a very beautiful race inside and out, peaceful, God fearing, fun loving, passive, non violent, caring, honest, and a Christian community into the opposite of what they once were.  How about that for evolution?

  11. Slowpoke says:

    Evolution Pffft!  Everybody knows that God made this happen 4000 years ago.

  12. Hancock says:

    I wonder if politicians can evolve at a similar pace. Character displacement sounds wonderful. It leads me to believe that Politicus Homanus Eastendus is a totally different  animal from Politicus Homanus Westbayus. May I suggest that we employ a major consulting firm to advise us on this very interesting subject.