Evolution

Unravelling the venomous bite of an endangered mammal

Solenodon

Highly similar venom toxins found in shrews and endangered Caribbean mammals, despite common ancestor over 70 million years ago

Researchers from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and ZSL (Zoological Society of London) have worked with scientists from institutions across the globe, including the Evolutionary Venomics Lab at IISc, to uncover the truth behind the origin of venom in some very unusual mammals.

New publication: Past climate change and the diversification of geckos from Peninsular India.

geckos

Around 33.5 million years ago, during the Eocene–Oligocene period, there was an abrupt shift towards a cooler drier climate. This resulted in a corresponding shift in biological diversity globally. In Peninsular India, the study of fossil pollens suggests a shift from wet rainforest vegetation to dry and seasonal species during this period. However, the grassland and open habitats that dominate the region today expanded relatively recently as a result of the Late Miocene aridification ~ 11 million years ago.

New publication: Morphological diversification of geckos from Peninsular India

Morphology

Studying adaptive radiations, such as Darwin's finches from the Galápagos Islands, can give us key insights into generalities of ecomorphological diversification. This paper from the Karanth lab examines morphological diversification in Hemidactylus geckos from Peninsular India that occur in a wide range of microhabitats. 

Fan-throated lizards of India are a highly diverse group with at least 15 species, possibly caused by climatic shifts around 8–5 million years ago.

Image credit: Deepak Veerappan

Deepak. V (a postdoc) and Praveen Karanth show that fan-throated lizards consist of at least 15 species, with much of the diversification dating back to 8–5 million years and possibly caused by climatic shifts in India in that period. This is one of the few studies that establishes a link between climate change and adaptation in the Indian subcontinent. The study also highlights the importance of the dry zone as centers of biodiversity.

Its raining bush frogs in the Western Ghats by Kartik Shanker and SP Vijayakumar

Bush Frogs

Its raining bush frogs in the Western Ghats
Kartik Shanker and SP Vijayakumar

Should you find yourself wandering in the cloud-drenched mountains of the Western Ghats, you would be engulfed by a cacophony of frog calls. Many of these will be bush frogs, a group of miniature frogs distributed throughout south and southeast Asia. Some are so small that they can be accommodated on your thumbnail!

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