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OK Press: OSU researcher's theory feted

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Mon Jul 14 20:46:39 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

TULSA WORLD (Oklahoma) 06 July 08 OSU researcher's lizard theory feted
Oklahoma City (AP): Confused and frustrated that the lizards he was trying to study all suddenly died, an Oklahoma State University researcher, Kris Karsten, came to a conclusion that's earned him national acclaim.
As it turns out, the chameleon he'd been researching lives a brisk life and might just be better off in its egg than after it has hatched.
Karsten published his doctorate research on the tiny chameleon species Furcifer labordi last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The chameleon, which lives in the desert in southwestern Madagascar, had been known to scientists for more than 100 years, but no one had ever realized that the lizards' life cycle lasts less than a year.
"It really exemplifies how little we know about a lot of the world," said Karsten, who is from Kansas City, Mo.
Karsten said a one-year life span is common among plants and insects but almost unheard of in four-legged vertebrates.
The chameleons are trapped in their eggs for about the first four or five months of their lives, growing to full size, about 4 inches long. Upon hatching, they mate furiously, using extensions on their noses and skulls to fight each other and attract attention.
"There's not a lot of room for error," Karsten said. "If you're a male chameleon of this species and you can't find a female to convince to mate, you've got no offspring in the next generation."
The strange mating habits attracted Karsten's attention, and he visited Madagascar ó an island on the Indian Ocean side of southern Africa ó to study the chameleons. Not long after Karsten arrived, however, all of the individuals he'd set out to observe died.
His chance to observe the chameleons and collect information about them seemed finished.
But over four years, Karsten and colleagues in Madagascar and the U.S. returned to observe about 400 individuals to discover what he believes may be an evolutionary strategy.
Karsten, who received his doctorate from OSU in May, said he hoped his discovery would inspire young scientists who may believe everything interesting about science has been figured out.
OSU researcher's lizard theory feted


   

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