All posts tagged: speedy evolution

Animals Are Reaching the Limits of Heat Tolerance

Animals Are Reaching the Limits of Heat Tolerance

Anoles have always been happy in the heat. The svelte little lizards, a group some 400 species strong, thrive in the Americas’ warmest parts—from the balmy rainforests of South America up through the United States’ Sun Belt—where they spend their days basking on boulders and scurrying out to the sun-soaked tips of twigs, or even scampering over the blistering metal of exposed city pipes. And when local temperatures get even hotter, as they now so often do, anoles take those changes in stride. Beneath the shady canopies of Caribbean rainforests, Martha Muñoz, an evolutionary biologist at Yale, and her students have found species that have rapidly evolved the ability to withstand temperatures verging on 110 degrees Fahrenheit; elsewhere, near the forest’s perimeter, the researchers have discovered species that have taught themselves to shelter beneath rocks until it’s cool enough to leave. On this fast-warming planet, animals have just three options: “Behave, adapt, or die,” Brian Cheng, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, told me. So far, anoles are excelling at the …