Day 294. The lizard and the egg

In June 2013 on June 3, 2013 at 9:02 am


Unlike the rapid spin cycle in politics and other daily news, science can still hold interest weeks, months, even years later.

A 2010 article about reproduction in an Australian lizard blew my mind this past weekend.

The Saiphos equalis skinks live in the low-lying warm coastal lowlands and cooler mountains of New South Wales. The lizard has two different modes of delivering babies, based on where it lives: egg laying in the lowlands, and giving birth to live young in the mountains.

National Geographic reporter Brian Handwerk describes it as ‘evolution caught in the act’:

For the skinks, moms in balmier climates may opt to conserve their own bodies’ resources by depositing eggs on the ground for the final week or so of development. Moms in harsh mountain climates, by contrast, might find that it’s more efficient to protect their young by keeping them longer inside their bodies.

In general, the results suggest the move from egg-laying to live birth in reptiles is fairly common—at least in historic terms—because it’s relatively easy to make the switch.

So cool. Check out Brian’s article, or the original scientific publication for more details.

Thanks to Jordan Stanley for the heads up via twitter.

[image of “the brain show” thanks to TEDxPioneerValley2012]


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