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Nice guys do finish first in lizards' evolutionary race

tion to themselves. Blues "beat" yellows because they're close to home keeping watch. Yellows "beat" orange because the bullies aren't sticking close enough to home to keep an eye on things.

Research has focused on why the blue throats are willing to cast aside their own opportunities to procreate for the benefit of a friend.

"Why not abandon them and become loners ?why not go it alone?" McAdam said. "The blue throats can set up new territories and be successful. That's the evolutionary puzzle that we needed to solve."

Gene mapping revealed that the male blue-throats who buddied up are not even remotely related ?yet still share many genes. Somehow, McAdam said, the altruistic lizards know they're working to pass on their genes, even though their partners aren't family. The tag-team approach does effectively thwart the orange-throat bullies, albeit at a personal cost.

The term "greenbeard" refers to an evolutionary term of a trait so obvious that others can recognize The greenbeard in this case, McAdam said, is more than just a blue throat. The mechanism of self identification could be smell, or possibly body language. The lizards have a head-bobbing action that might be signaling genetic simpatico.


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Source:Michigan State University


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