Deep ocean evolution study warns against dangers of global warming

Artist depiction of what marine life looked like during the Ediacaran period. Credit: Peter Trusler

After about 3 billion years of Earth being dominated by microbes, complex, soft-bodied organisms (up to 3 feet long) emerged in the deep oceans.

Combining evidence from the fossil record with insights from animal physiology, scientists have now put forward a new explanation for why this occurred about 570 million years ago, during a period known as the Ediacaran.

Hurricanes force lizards to get a tighter grip on things

Lizard responding to high winds by clinging to a perch.
An anole lizard clings to a perch during simulated high winds. Credit: Colin Donihue and Nature Video.

Small-bodied anole lizards (Anolis scriptus) do not run and hide from oncoming hurricanes like one might think. Instead they cling to tree branches for survival, their bodies transforming into sails, anchored in place thanks to toe pads.

Why this matters: A new study published in the scientific journal Nature this week found that hurricanes can accelerate natural selection, favoring anole lizards that have larger toeholds and shorter rear legs. It also may help solve an enduring mystery about these commonly found lizards.

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