Evolution of visual pigments in geckos. (1/1093)

Most geckos are nocturnal forms and possess rod retinas, but some diurnal genera have pure-cone retinas. We isolated cDNAs encoding the diurnal gecko opsins, dg1 and dg2, similar to nocturnal gecko P521 and P467, respectively. Despite the large morphological differences between the diurnal and nocturnal gecko photoreceptor types, they express phylogenetically closely related opsins. These results provide molecular evidence for the reverse transmutation, that is, rods of an ancestral nocturnal gecko have backed into cones of diurnal geckos. The amino acid substitution rates of dgl and dg2 are higher than those of P521 and P467, respectively. Changes of behavior regarding photic environment may have contributed to acceleration of amino acid substitutions in the diurnal gecko opsins.  (+info)

The organization of genetic diversity in the parthenogenetic lizard Cnemidophorus tesselatus. (2/1093)

The parthogenetic lizard species Cnemidophorus tesselatus is composed of diploid populations formed by hybridization of the bisexual species C. tigris and C. septemvittatus, and of triploid populations derived from a cross between diploid tesselatus and a third bisexual species, C. sexlineatus. An analysis of allozymic variation in proteins encoded by 21 loci revealed that, primarily because of hybrid origin, individual heterozygosity in tesselatus is much higher (0.560 in diploids and 0.714 in triploids) than in the parental bisexual species (mean, 0.059). All triploid individuals apparently represent a single clone, but 12 diploid clones were identified on the basis of genotypic diversity occurring at six loci. From one to four clones were recorded in each population sampled. Three possible sources of clonal diversity in the diploid parthenogens were identified: mutation at three loci has produced three clones, each confined to a single locality; genotypic diversity at two loci apparently caused by multiple hybridization of the bisexual species accounts for four clones; and the remaining five clones apparently have arisen through recombination at three loci. The relatively limited clonal diversity of tesselatus suggests a recent origin. The evolutionary potential of tesselatus and of parthenogenetic forms in general may be less severely limited than has generally been supposed.  (+info)

Morphology of the feeding system in agamid lizards: ecological correlates. (3/1093)

The interaction of organismal design with ecology, and its evolutionary development are the subject of many functional and ecomorphological studies. Many studies have shown that the morphology and mechanics of the masticatory apparatus in mammals are adapted to diet. To investigate the relations between diet and the morphological and physiological properties of the lizard jaw system, a detailed analysis of the structure of the jaw apparatus was undertaken in the insectivorous lizard Plocederma stellio and in closely related herbivorous lizards of the genus Uromastix. The morphological and physiological properties of the jaw system in P. stellio and U. aegyptius were studied by means of dissections, light microscopy, histochemical characterisations, and in vivo stimulation experiments. The skull of Uromastix seems to be built for forceful biting (high, short snout). Additionally, the pterygoid muscle is modified in P. stellio, resulting in an additional force component during static biting. Stimulation experiments indicate that jaw muscles in both species are fast, which is supported by histochemical stainings. However, the oxidative capacity of the jaw muscles is larger in Uromastix. Contraction characteristics and performance of the feeding system (force output) are clearly thermally dependent. We conclude that several characteristics of the jaw system (presence of extra portion of the pterygoid muscle, large oxidative capacity of jaw muscles) in Uromastix may be attributed to its herbivorous diet. Jaw muscles, however, are still faster than expected. This is presumably the result of trade-offs between the thermal characteristics of the jaw adductors and the herbivorous lifestyle of these animals.  (+info)

Visual optics: The sandlance eye breaks all the rules. (4/1093)

The eyes of the sandlance differ from those of other fish, both optically and in the kinds of movements they make. The predatory behaviour of these tiny fish not only makes their lifestyle similar to that of a chameleon, but has led to several extraordinary examples of convergence in the visual system.  (+info)

Convergence of specialised behaviour, eye movements and visual optics in the sandlance (Teleostei) and the chameleon (Reptilia) (5/1093)

Chameleons have a number of unusual, highly specialised visual features, including telescopic visual optics with a reduced lens power, wide separation of the eye's nodal point from the axis of rotation, a deep-pit fovea, rapid pre-calculated strikes for prey based on monocular depth judgements (including focus), and a complex pattern of partially independent alternating eye movements. The same set of features has been acquired independently by a teleost, the sandlance Limnichthyes fasciatus. Despite its underwater lifestyle, this fish displays visual behaviour and rapid strikes for prey that are remarkably similar to those of the chameleon [1]. In a direct comparison of the two species, we have revealed other, previously unsuspected, similarities, such as corneal accommodation, which was unknown in teleosts, as well as bringing together, for the first time, data collected from both species. The sandlance is the only teleost, among thousands studied, that has corneal refraction, corneal accommodation and reduced lens power, as well as sharing the other specialised optical features seen in chameleons. The independent eye movement pattern in the sandlance is also unusual and similar to that of the chameleon. The selection pressures that have produced this remarkable example of convergence may relate to common visual constraints in the life styles of these two phylogenetically disparate species.  (+info)

Contribution of gular pumping to lung ventilation in monitor lizards. (6/1093)

A controversial hypothesis has proposed that lizards are subject to a speed-dependent axial constraint that prevents effective lung ventilation during moderate- and high-speed locomotion. This hypothesis has been challenged by results demonstrating that monitor lizards (genus Varanus) experience no axial constraint. Evidence presented here shows that, during locomotion, varanids use a positive pressure gular pump to assist lung ventilation. Disabling the gular pump reveals that the axial constraint is present in varanids but it is masked by gular pumping under normal conditions. These findings support the prediction that the axial constraint may be found in other tetrapods that breathe by costal aspiration and locomote with a lateral undulatory gait.  (+info)

Complete mitochondrial DNA sequences of the green turtle and blue-tailed mole skink: statistical evidence for archosaurian affinity of turtles. (7/1093)

Turtles have highly specialized morphological characteristics, and their phylogenetic position has been under intensive debate. Previous molecular studies have not established a consistent and statistically well supported conclusion on this issue. In order to address this, complete mitochondrial DNA sequences were determined for the green turtle and the blue-tailed mole skink. These genomes possess an organization of genes which is typical of most other vertebrates, such as placental mammals, a frog, and bony fishes, but distinct from organizations of alligators and snakes. Molecular evolutionary rates of mitochondrial protein sequences appear to vary considerably among major reptilian lineages, with relatively rapid rates for snake and crocodilian lineages but slow rates for turtle and lizard lineages. In spite of this rate heterogeneity, phylogenetic analyses using amino acid sequences of 12 mitochondrial proteins reliably established the Archosauria (birds and crocodilians) and Lepidosauria (lizards and snakes) clades postulated from previous morphological studies. The phylogenetic analyses further suggested that turtles are a sister group of the archosaurs, and this untraditional relationship was provided with strong statistical evidence by both the bootstrap and the Kishino-Hasegawa tests. This is the first statistically significant molecular phylogeny on the placement of turtles relative to the archosaurs and lepidosaurs. It is therefore likely that turtles originated from a Permian-Triassic archosauromorph ancestor with two pairs of temporal fenestrae behind the skull orbit that were subsequently lost. The traditional classification of turtles in the Anapsida may thus need to be reconsidered.  (+info)

Nonlinear, fractal, and spectral analysis of the EEG of lizard, Gallotia galloti. (8/1093)

Electroencephalogram (EEG) from dorsal cortex of lizard Gallotia galloti was analyzed at different temperatures to test the presence of fractal or nonlinear structure during open (OE) and closed eyes (CE), with the aim of comparing these results with those reported for human slow-wave sleep (SWS). Two nonlinear parameters characterizing EEG complexity [correlation dimension (D2)] and predictability [largest Lyapunov exponent (lambda(1))] were calculated, and EEG spectrum and fractal exponent beta were determined via coarse graining spectral analysis. At 25 degrees C, evidence of nonlinear structure was obtained by the surrogate data test, with EEG phase space structure suggesting the presence of deterministic chaos (D2 approximately 6, lambda(1) approximately 1. 5). Both nonlinear parameters were greater in OE than in CE and for the right hemisphere in both situations. At 35 degrees C the evidence of nonlinearity was not conclusive and differences between states disappeared, whereas interhemispheric differences remained for lambda(1). Harmonic power always increased with temperature within the band 8-30 Hz, but only with OE within the band 0.3-7.5 Hz. Qualitative similarities found between lizard and human SWS EEG support the hypothesis that reptilian waking could evolve into mammalian SWS.  (+info)