Thursday, 17 September 2015

Predictable evolution: bad news for toads, good news for their predators

Researchers reveal that, under certain circumstances, the process of evolution can be highly predictable, especially when there are limited solutions to a particular problem, such as resistance to dangerous toxins

Wednesday 16 September 2015 16.46 BSTLast modified on Thursday 17 September 201508.00 BST

A research paper that was published a few days ago in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports that evolution can follow predictable pathways when available solutions to a particular problem are severely limited. This new study found that resistance to heart-stopping cardiac glycoside toxins produced by some plants and animals for defensive purposes has independently converged across several lineages of insects, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, after following a highly predictable evolutionary pathway.

Most Australian goannas die after snacking on cane toads
Goannas are a group of carnivorous monitor lizards in the genus Varanus. Almost all goannas live in Australia, but a few species can also be found Africa and southeast Asia. Goannas are not picky eaters -- they are predatory as well as scavengery -- and will eat any animal that they can fit down their throats. So goannas would appear to be impervious to most threats. But problems started for Australia’s goannas after people introduced the cane toad to northern Australia in 1935.

No comments:

Post a comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

ShareThis