Scientists working on islands in Florida have documented the rapid evolution of a native lizard species — in as little as 15 years — as a result of pressure from an invading lizard species, introduced from Cuba.

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With new nano-sized acoustic transmitters, scientists followed the pathways of loggerhead turtle hatchlings. According to the study, local oceanic conditions are believed to drive the evolution of some unique swimming behaviors.

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The health risks and benefits of vegetarianism have long been discussed in relation to the human diet, but newly published research reveals that it’s definitely of benefit to the reptile population. That, and being less sexually active. The research team investigated how longevity of 1,014 species of scaled reptiles is influenced by key environmental characteristics and by their feeding and sexual habits.

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Two closely related viruses that have been introduced to northern Spain in recent years have already led to the collapse of three different species of amphibian — the common midwife toad, the common toad, and the alpine newt — in the protected area of Picos de Europa National Park. In all, six amphibian species have suffered from severe disease and mass mortality and researchers say that the viruses appear to be on the move.

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By screening over 2,000 approved drugs and natural products, scientists have shown that tannic acid may help ease the impact of bacterial lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Tests completed using experimentally modified frog oocytes show that tannic acid counteracts the harmful effect of an enzyme produced by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). However, more research is needed to find out if tannic acid can help treat S. aureus infections in humans.

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No single ‘one-size-fits-all’ model can explain how biodiversity hotspots come to be, finds a study of more than 700 species of reptiles and amphibians in Madagascar. By analyzing the distribution of Madagascar’s lizards, snakes, frogs and tortoises, researchers find that each group responded differently to environmental fluctuations on the island over time. The results are important because they suggest that climate change and deforestation in Madagascar will have varying effects on different species.

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The amazing ability of sidewinder snakes to quickly climb sandy slopes was once something biologists only vaguely understood and roboticists only dreamed of replicating. By studying the snakes in a unique bed of inclined sand and using a snake-like robot to test ideas spawned by observing the real animals, both biologists and roboticists have now gained long-sought insights.

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Chicken taste receptors are ‘broadly tuned’ for bitter taste, whereas six frog taste receptors are mixed, consisting of broadly as well as narrowly tuned receptors. In general, individual substances activated different receptors in clearly separated concentration ranges, which may also provide a clue to the role of bitter taste diversity in enhancing the chance of survival.

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Researchers have enlisted a Caribbean lizard to help them find out on how geography can influence the evolution of animal species.

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Researchers have enlisted a Caribbean lizard to help them find out on how geography can influence the evolution of animal species.

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Polluted urban and farm runoff in Hawaii has been linked to lethal tumors in endangered sea turtles. A new study finds that excess nitrogen in the runoff accumulates in algae that the turtles eat and can cause the disease Fibropapillomatosis which is the leading known cause of death in endangered green sea turtles. The disease causes the formation of tumors on the animals’ eyes, flippers, and internal organs.

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New research has for the first time provided evidence that reptiles could be capable of social learning through imitation. The ability to acquire new skills through the ‘true imitation’ of others’ behavior is thought to be unique to humans and advanced primates, such as chimpanzees.  

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After warmer winters, wood frogs breed earlier and produce fewer eggs, a researcher has found. The same study also found that frogs produce more eggs during winters with more rain and snow.

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A bright orange poison dart frog with a unique call has been discovered in Donoso, Panama. Because this new frog species appears to be found in only a very small area, habitat loss and collecting for the pet trade are major threats to its existence. The authors recommend the formulation of special conservation plans to guarantee its survival.

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A small study suggests snakes may have developed courtship and male-to-male combat behavior, such as moving undulations, neck biting, and spur-poking, over time.

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