Puerto Rican Lizards Morph to Survive City Life 

By Emile stanley, age 12

Urbanization has drastically changed the natural world as we know it. Now researchers at New York University have found that the Puerto Rican crested anole has evolved to survive life in the city.

Lead researcher Kristin Winchell studied the genomes of city-dwelling adult male anoles and found that they tended to have much longer limbs and larger toe pads than forest anoles. These genetic adaptations help city lizards run across large open and unnaturally flat spaces, like parking lots, something they don’t have to do living in the forest. The lizards have also developed special scales that allow them to easily climb up smooth surfaces like walls and windows, as opposed to the rough surfaces found in forests. The researchers explained that the anoles still living in the forest have not displayed any of these changes.

“Understanding how animals adapt to urban environments can help us focus our conservation efforts on the species that need it the most,” explains Winchell.

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