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: Researchers identify a pheromone in the urine of male tilapia fish that stimulates spawning in females

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

Hydrogen powers important nitrogen-transforming bacteria

14 minutes ago

Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria are key players in the natural nitrogen cycle on Earth and in biological wastewater treatment plants. For decades, these specialist bacteria were thought to depend on nitrite as ...

Top ten reptiles and amphibians benefitting from zoos

1 hour ago

A frog that does not croak, the largest living lizard, and a tortoise that can live up to 100 years are just some of the species staving off extinction thanks to the help of zoos, according to a new report.

User comments : 0