Body pigments ideal systems to study evolution


Margaret Coulombe

A report in Discovery News, published on Jan. 12, discusses work on genetic studies with lizards in New Mexico's White Sands that have allowed scientists to better understand evolutionary mechanisms and adaptation to environments.

In the article, Kevin McGraw, associate professor in the School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, points out that the research by Erica Bree Rosenblum of the University of Idaho, which analyzes the gene responsible for producing the skin pigment melanin, “stands as one of the more impressive evolution in action events observed by scientists.

The story concludes that: "As with Rosenblum's lizards, McGraw’s work provides insight into the evolved diversity of exaggerated features in the animal kingdom."

"Because body pigments can play such diverse physiological and morphological roles, pigment-based color patterns represent ideal systems in which to evaluate fine-scale evolutionary pressures, changes and trade-offs," McGraw said.