27 August 2012

Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: The evolution of lizards on islands. No, not those lizards.

Hemidactylus granti. Photo via Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!
Over at the collaborative science blog Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!, Noah Reid describes a new study dissecting the evolutionary history of island-dwelling lizards—not the field model Caribbean Anolis, but geckoes in the genus Hemidactylus, living on islands in the Indian Ocean.

The Socotra archipelago is a particularly interesting, but poorly studied island system. Socotra consists of four islands in the Indian Ocean. It is extremely isolated (150 miles from the horn of Africa, 240 miles from the Arabian Peninsula) yet it has a continental origin. That means it was once part of the supercontinent Gondwana and suggests that some species may have lived there since it first became an island (~17.6 million years ago). Socotra has a very high level of endemism, with 37% of its plant species and 90% of its reptiles occurring nowhere else.

To find out how some of those endemic reptiles got to Socotra, go read the whole thing.◼

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