IS­LAND LOVERS

Focus-Science and Technology - - Evolution -

When Dar­win vis­ited the Galá­pa­gos, he re­alised that re­mote is­lands are hot­beds of evolution, seeded by stow­aways that reach their shores and adapt to lo­cal con­di­tions. In 1971, sci­en­tists sim­u­lated this by mov­ing five pairs of Ital­ian wall lizards to an un­in­hab­ited Croa­t­ian is­land. Re­vis­it­ing the is­land 30 years later, they found that the lizards, orig­i­nally in­sect-eaters, had evolved a prim­i­tive form of her­bivory. Their gut had changed to in­clude fer­ment­ing cham­bers, and their jaws had be­come stronger.

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