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


The scientists found that 33 genes in the lizard’s genome were repeatedly linked to urbanization.

New Delhi,UPDATED: Jan 11, 2023 1:45 PM IST

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

It is important to understand how organisms adapt to a changing landscape. (Photo: Getty)

From India Today web desk: Researchers have found that lizards have genetically transformed to survive in cities while moving out of forests. Parallel physical differences and genomic signatures were found in urban izards compared to their forest-dwelling counterparts.

The study shows that lizards living in different cities have a parallel genomic marker compared to neighboring forest lizards, and the researchers say that as urbanization increases around the world, it is important to understand how the organisms adapt and people can design cities accordingly. 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 the forest dwellers to those living in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, as well as in the northern city of Arecibo and the western city of Mayaguez .

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

Urban lizards had significantly longer limbs and larger toe pads with more specialized toe scales. (Photo: Getty)

“Urbanization affects approximately two-thirds of the Earth and is expected to continue to increase. In many ways, cities provide us with natural laboratories for studying adaptive change, as we can compare urban populations to their non-urban counterparts to see how they respond to similar stressors and pressures over short periods of time,” Christine 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’s genome were repeatedly linked to urbanization, and the lizards’ physical differences appeared to be reflected at the genomic level. Changes in these lizards, whose lifespan is approximately 7 years, can occur very quickly, within 30 to 80 generations, allowing them to escape predators and survive in urban areas.

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The team first confirmed that the lizard populations in the three regions were genetically distinct from each other, then measured the pads of their toes and feet and found that the urban lizards had significantly longer limbs and larger toe pads with more specialized finger scales.

“Although we need further analysis of these genes to really know what this finding means, we have evidence that urban lizards injure themselves more and have more parasites, so changes in immune function and wound healing would make sense . “Similarly, urban anoles eat human food, so it’s possible they’re undergoing changes in their metabolism,” Winchell said.

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