Rapid shift in natural selection reported

Nov 20, 2006

U.S. evolutionary scientists say they have found evolution as a process can occur during eons or within months as a population's needs change.

In a study of island lizards exposed to a new predator, evolutionary biology and organismic Professor Jonathan Losos and colleagues at Harvard University found natural selection dramatically changed direction during a very short time -- within a single generation -- favoring first longer and then shorter hind legs.

"Because of its epochal scope, evolutionary biology is often caricatured as incompatible with controlled experimentation," said Losos, who did much of the work before joining Harvard this year from Washington University in St. Louis.

"Recent work has shown, however, that evolutionary biology can be studied on short time scales and that predictions about it can be tested experimentally," said Losos, who is also curator in herpetology at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. "We predicted, and then demonstrated, a reversal in the direction of natural selection acting on limb length in a population of lizards."

The research by Losos, Thomas Schoener and David Spiller of the University of California-Davis, and graduate study R. Brian Langerhans appears in the journal Science.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Himalayan Viagra fuels caterpillar fungus gold rush

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

First lizard genome sequenced

Aug 31, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The green anole lizard is an agile and active creature, and so are elements of its genome. This genomic agility and other new clues have emerged from the full sequencing of the lizard's genome ...

Species thrive when sexual dimorphism broadens their niches

May 09, 2007

Some Caribbean lizards' strong sexual dimorphism allows them to colonize much larger niches and habitats than they might otherwise occupy, allowing males and females to avoid competing with each other for resources and setting ...

Recommended for you

Is fleet diversity key to sustainable fisheries?

6 hours ago

Concern about fisheries is widespread around the world. Over the past several decades, a robust discussion has taken place concerning how to manage fisheries better to benefit ecosystems and humans. Much of the discussion ...

Strange, fanged deer persists in Afghanistan

6 hours ago

More than 60 years after its last confirmed sighting, a strange deer with vampire-like fangs still persists in the rugged forested slopes of northeast Afghanistan according to a research team led by the Wildlife ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.