Hurricane Allows Scientists to Watch Evolution in Action

Hurricane Allows Scientists to Watch Evolution in Action

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A devastating hurricane has made it possible to test a rarely observed effect of evolution in the wild for the first time. Scientists transported forest lizards to a group of Caribbean islands stripped bare of vegetation by Hurricane Frances in 2004. They collected pairs of brown anole lizards from a large forested island near Great Abaco in the Caribbean.

These were introduced to seven other nearby islands which had been submerged by the hurricane and were now covered in short scrub vegetation. The lizards evolved in their new home, with ‘younger’ generations having shorter limbs, to fit with their new, treeless environment. Previous research had shown that anole lizards living in forests have longer limbs than those inhabiting scrubland.

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