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Short Film
The Origin of Species: Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree

Summary

In the Caribbean islands, adaptation to several common habitats has led to a large adaptive radiation with interesting examples of convergent evolution.

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(Duration: 17 min 45 sec)

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Working in the islands of the Caribbean, biologist Jonathan Losos has discovered the traits that enable dozens of anole species to adapt to different vertical niches in the forest. While differences in limb length, body shape, and toepad size allow different species to flourish on the ground, on thin branches, or high in the canopy, changes in other characters, such as their colorful dewlaps, have played a key role in reproductive isolation and the formation of new species.  


Curriculum Connections:

AP (2012–13)

1.A.1.a,b,c,d,e; 1.A.2.a,b,c; 1.A.4.a,b; 1.B.2.a,b,c,d; 1.C.1.a,b; 1.C.2.a,b; 1.C.3.a,b 

Supporting Materials (4)

Film Guides
The following classroom-ready resources complement The Origin of Species: Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree. Research on the anole lizards is enriching our understanding of evolutionary processes, such as adaptation by natural selection, convergent evolution, and the formation of new species.
Classroom Resource
This activity supports the film The Origin of Species: Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree. Students are guided to sort the lizard species by appearance, then generate a phylogenetic tree using the lizards’ DNA sequences to evaluate whether species that appear similar are closely related to each other.
Animation
This animation features the anole lizards as an example of how a single species can split and multiply into many different species with distinct traits.
Virtual Lab
The Lizard Evolution Virtual Lab was developed by a team of scientists, educators, graphic artists, and film makers to explore the evolution of the anole lizards in the Caribbean.

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The richness and diversity of life raises two of the most profound questions in biology: How do new species form? And, why are there so many species?

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