New research published in PLOS Biology emphasizes the importance of prioritizing taxonomic research in conservation, with biodiversity loss greater than realized due to the high number of unknown and undocumented species. Jane Melville, senior curator of terrestrial vertebrates at Museums Victoria and associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University, led the collaborative research effort as part of a Fulbright Fellowship at Washington University in St.
It was raining iguanas on a sunny morning. Biologist James Stroud’s phone started buzzing early on Jan. 22. A friend who was bicycling to work past the white sands and palm tree edges of Key Biscayne, an island town south of Miami, sent Stroud a picture of a 2-foot-long lizard splayed out on its back. With its feet in the air, the iguana took up most of the sidewalk.
A major transformation in vertebrate evolution took place when breathing shifted from being driven by head and throat muscles—like in fish and frogs—to the torso—like in reptiles and mammals. But what caused the shift? A new study posits that the intermediate step was locomotion—the mechanics follow the same pattern as inhalation and exhalation.
Relocated in small groups to experimental islands, lizards rapidly and repeatedly developed new chemical signals for communicating with each other. Free from the risk of predators and intent to attract potential mates, male lizards produce a novel chemical calling card, according to research from Washington University in St. Louis.