speciation

Not Exactly Rocket Science

Tag archives for speciation

Seven habits of highly successful toads

Toads are an evolutionary success story. In a relatively short span of time, they diversified into around 500 species and spread to every continent except Antarctica. Now, Ines van Bocxlaer from Vrije University has uncovered the secrets of their success. By comparing the most home-bound toads with the most invasive ones, she has outlined seven…

In the forests of Germany live large numbers of blackcaps, a small species of songbird. They all look very similar, but they actually belong to two genetically distinct groups that are becoming more disparate with time. For the moment, the best way to tell them apart is to wait for winter. As the cold sets…

Walk through the rainforests of Ecuador and you might encounter a beautiful butterfly called Heliconius cydno. It’s extremely varied in its colours. Even among one subspecies, H.cydno alithea, you can find individuals with white wingbands and those with yellow. Despite their different hues, they are still the same species… but probably not for much longer.…

In Mexico’s Cueva del Azufre (the Sulphur Caves), a small fish called the shortfin molly (Poecilia mexicana) is on the way to becoming two separate species. Those that live in the dark interior of the caves are very different to their relatives that swim in the bright, surface waters. They have lighter colours and live…

This is the second of eight posts on evolutionary research to celebrate Darwin’s bicentennial. What do you get when one species splits into separate lineages? Two species? Think bigger… When new species arise, they can set off evolutionary chain reactions that cause even more new species to spring forth – fresh buds on the tree…

Humans have been blamed for the disappearance of species before but never quite like this. Scientists at the University of Oxford have found evidence that two species of bacteria are merging into one. The two species are swapping genetic material at such a high rate that they are on the road to sharing a single,…