Saturday, May 7, 2011

Work Hard, Play Hard

The weather has been cooperating lately, so we’ve been working a lot in order to finish the tethered intruder experiment. I explain that experiment in this blog. We've presented both brown and blue males and females to resident males in the Trucadores area. Now we are working on doing the same thing with the blue males that live on the other side of the island in the Cap de Barbaria area. What we are trying to find out is why there are separate groups of brown and blue lizards on the island and why they have differentiated from each other due to lack of interbreeding. If it is shown that blue males beat up brown males, the brown males could not compete in the blue environment. Similarly, if males fail to mate with females of the opposite color, it will lead to differentiation of the color morphs and eventually two different species. If the two colors fail to mate with each other, there is no gene flow between the populations and over thousands of years this will lead to speciation(which is what is happening, we just need to show it).
Now you see them
Now you don't
 After we worked hard all day, we decided to go out. People besides us scientists are on this island for vacation and partying and they go out for many, many hours. So for the first time since we got here(we've gone out before, but just until 2. that's considered early here), we followed suit. We headed out around 10:30 to Macondo, which is a pizza place/bar. We had some beer, but I want to go back for pizza. It smelled more than amazing. We then headed over to Blue Bar, a place that we had been before. Blue Bar has awesome decorations that not only include everything blue, but also lots of aliens. 

They had a DJ and a rapper who was surprisingly good. After the rap gig was over, they played some reggaeton songs which reminded us of the Galapagos. The night rapped up around 4 AM. Good times.

To answer my sister’s question from my last blog post: Is the lizard tail regeneration the same as the seastars regeneration? The short answer is no, and the short reason is because lizards are vertebrates and seastars are not. If you chop off an arm of a seastar, it will grow into a new seastar given that a piece of the central disk(the main part of their nervous system) is included. Unlike seastars, if you chop off the tail of a lizard, a new lizard WILL NOT grow out of the tail. Sorry to disappoint. When these lizards first grow these tails when they are born, their vertebrae continue down to a certain point in their tail and then towards the tip it is made of cartilage. The vertebrae themselves are connected by cartilage and the lizard has many points that it can separate one vertebra from another by breaking the cartilage and discard its tail if it is being attacked. It doesn’t take much force to break the cartilage bonds between each of the vertebra (hence why we don’t pick the lizards up by their tails). When the lizard grows its tail back it is made completely of cartilage. I’ve seen lizards with full tails that have not been broken and also ones that are the tiniest stubs you can imagine. Oh, and just in case you wanted to be grossed out(you might want to put down whatever you're eating)- when the tail is lost, the lizard bleeds. A lot. And the tail that was shed, no matter how small, still wiggles back and forth violently. Even after it is disconnected and the lizard runs away you are left with a wriggling, bleeding, tail. The first time I saw it I almost threw up. Still now I don’t watch when Marina and Ryan cut the tail off for the microsatellite analysis. Since they do that, I have to be lizard wrangler and get peed and pooped on as I measure and weigh them, but that is perfectly okay by me as long as I don’t have to watch the tail wiggle.

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