June 12, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Ma Lizards Dress Their Young

Leapin’ lizards: the side-blotched lizards of the American southwest are able to dress their kids in the latest scale fashions.  A press release from UC Santa Cruz shows that hormones from mom can dramatically affect the pattern and coloration of offspring.  The scientists observing this phenomenon think it has something to do with matching their looks to the need of the moment: aggression, camouflage, or social acceptance with siblings.  Apparently these lizards know how to dress for success. 

If the parents actually have this kind of control over the outward looks of the young, then developmental factors may have more to do with variation than mutation and natural selection.  What’s Darwin got to do with it?  Very little, apparently.  The researchers said nothing about it, even though one was listed as an evolutionary biologist.  If these lizards can vary their appearance substantially in one generation, they should have evolved into birds by now.  But no one is claiming they have been anything other than side-blotched lizards since antiquity.

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Categories: Terrestrial Zoology

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