Here is a little exercise I use in my evolution class. I post a segment of a news story that describes an evolutionary process in sloppy terms and then ask the students to translate it into language that accurately describes what is going on.
Here’s one from today’s Discovery News.
Lizards Evolved Quickly to Avoid Death by Ants
It takes some effort for fire ants to get under the hard scales of an unsuspecting lizard. When the insects finally penetrate the reptile’s fleshy core, the attackers inject a toxin that paralyzes their victim. Then, they tear the lizard to pieces, which they carry back to their nest.
It’s an unpleasant way to die, and one that at least one species of lizard is rapidly evolving to avoid. In just 70 years, according to a new study, eastern fence lizards in parts of the United States have developed longer hind limbs and new behaviors that help them escape the clutches of the venomous ants.
Have at it!
(Hint: Start your answer with “Within a population of lizards…”)
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