The lizards switched their genes to move out of the forest and settle in the cities

The scientists found that 33 genes within the lizard’s genome were most frequently associated with urbanization.

New DelhiAndUpdated: Jan 11, 2023 at 13:45 IST


It is important to understand how organisms adapt to changing landscapes. (Image: GETTY)

By India Today Web Desk: Researchers have found that lizards were genetically modified to live in cities as they moved out of the forests. Parallel physical differences and genomic signatures were found in urban flowers compared to their forest-dwelling counterparts.

The study shows that lizards that live in different cities have a parallel genomic marker when compared to neighboring forest lizards. The researchers say that as urbanization intensifies around the world, it is important to understand how organisms adapt and humans can design cities in ways that support all species.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) analyzed 96 Anolis cristatellus lizards, comparing the genetic makeup of forest dwellers to those living in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, as well as the northern and western city of Arecibo. Miyagi City.

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Anolis cristatellus lizards—a small-bodied species also known as the Puerto Rican crested anole—are commonly found in both urban and forest areas of Puerto Rico.

Urban lizards had significantly longer limbs and larger toe pads with more specialized scales on their toes. (Image: GETTY)

Urbanization affects nearly two-thirds of the planet and is expected to continue to increase. In many ways, cities provide us with natural laboratories for studying adaptive change, where we can compare urban residents with their non-urban counterparts to see how they respond to stressors and similar pressures over short periods of time,” Kristen Winchell, assistant professor of biology at New York University and first author of the study, said in a statement. .

The scientists found that 33 genes in the lizard genome have been repeatedly associated with urbanization and the physical differences in lizards appear to be reflected at the genetic level. Changes in these lizards, which have a lifespan of about 7 years, can happen very quickly, within 30 to 80 generations, enabling them to escape predators and survive in urban areas.

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The team first confirmed that lizard populations in the three regions were genetically distinct from one another, then measured the linings of their fingers and toes and found that lizards in urban areas had significantly longer limbs and larger toes with more specialized scales on their toes.

“While we need more analysis of these genes to really know what this finding means, we do have evidence that lizards in urban areas get more infected and have more parasites, so changes in immune function and wound healing would make sense. Likewise, urban anoles eat food.” humans, so it is possible that they may experience changes in their metabolism,” Winchell said.

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