Research NewsEvolutionary Biology

Catching Lizards in the Act of Adapting

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Science  02 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5313, pp. 682-683
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5313.682b

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Twenty years ago, evolutionary biologists transplanted small populations of Anolis sagrei lizards from Staniel Cay in the Bahamas to several nearby tiny islands, all of which had been lizard-free. The researchers expected the reptiles to go extinct, but by 10 to 14 years later, the animals appeared to be undergoing the kind of body changes that in time could turn each island's population into a separate species. If the changes are genetic, the study would be strong evidence that isolated populations diverge by natural selection, not by genetic drift, as some theorists have argued.