A highly conserved ontogenetic limb allometry and its evolutionary significance in the adaptive radiation of Anolis lizards

Nathalie Feiner, Illiam S.C. Jackson, Eliane Van Der Cruyssen, Tobias Uller

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Diversifications often proceed along highly conserved, evolutionary trajectories. These patterns of covariation arise in ontogeny, which raises the possibility that adaptive morphologies are biased towards trait covariations that resemble growth trajectories. Here, we test this prediction in the diverse clade of Anolis lizards by investigating the covariation of embryonic growth of 13 fore- and hindlimb bones in 15 species, and compare these to the evolutionary covariation of these limb bones across 267 Anolis species. Our results demonstrate that species differences in relative limb length are established already at hatching, and are resulting from both differential growth and differential sizes of cartilaginous anlagen. Multivariate analysis revealed that Antillean Anolis share a common ontogenetic allometry that is characterized by positive allometric growth of the long bones relative to metapodial and phalangeal bones. This major axis of ontogenetic allometry in limb bones deviated from the major axis of evolutionary allometry of the Antillean Anolis and the two clades of mainland Anolis lizards. These results demonstrate that the remarkable diversification of locomotor specialists in Anolis lizards are accessible through changes that are largely independent from ontogenetic growth trajectories, and therefore likely to be the result of modifications that manifest at the earliest stages of limb development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20210226
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Volume288
    Issue number1953
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Subject classification (UKÄ)

    • Evolutionary Biology

    Free keywords

    • adaptive radiation
    • allometries
    • Anolis lizards
    • diversification
    • limb morphology
    • macroevolution

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