PiU (samedi) wrote,

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university of california + lizards

Back in November I attended a seminar on Draco flying lizards presented by a member of UC Berkeley's herpetology department, while on Monday afternoon I caught a lecture by Richard Glor of UC Davis on "The Evolution of Species Diversity During Adaptive Radiation of Anolis Lizards". The focus of his research involves studying Anole lizards in the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola) and the role that microhabitats have played in influencing speciation on the islands. Adaptive radiation has led to the establishment of various ecomorphs - crown giant sp., trunk crown sp., grass-bush sp., etc. - that occupy similar niches on each island, yet a comparison of DNA base pairs suggests that species are more closely related to anoles from other microhabitats in the same locale than anoles from the same microhabitat in other locales, and this is true not only between islands but also across the same island.

Two hybrids have been found in Cuba, and Glor was also surprised to find two anoles mating in his lab that were from both different microhabitats and different islands. Perhaps a little unusual, but in his lizards' defense he claimed that he would probably be feeling quite desperate as well if he had bilateral (paired) penises and was kept sequestered away from other anoles for days at a time. The seminar itself was quite interesting, and my decision to stay after to ask a few questions resulted in an invitation from Glor and a couple of the university's biology Ph.D students to go out for drinks at a local hang-out for graduate students.

On the way over Glor asked about my own research interests in anthropology, and when I mentioned how I hoped to study linguistic exchange between non-'French' indigenous cultures in l'Hexagone he was quick to point out how his family had originally come from Alsace. ("Hey, so did mine!") I felt a little out of place from being both an undergraduate and a student from outside the School of Biological Sciences, but nobody else seemed to mind - plus, my ability to join their conversation on ratities (flightless birds) probably didn't hurt.

Considering the length of this entry I should probably save some of Glor's stories for another time; they were quite humourous though, so expect to see them some time in the future. Oh, the annoying woman from the Draco seminar was in attendance and asked a couple of strange questions. It turns out she's a member of the faculty here and has a habit of making condescending remarks during guest lectures; fortunately for me, anthropology and molecular biology are far enough removed that she doesn't attend any of the events sponsored by the anthropology department.

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