Highlights from the Evolution 2013 meeting | Science News

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Highlights from the Evolution 2013 meeting

Terrapins' light displays, a natural fish experiment and how a variety of eye colors persist in white Europeans, presented June 21-25 in Snowbird, Utah

5:14pm, July 2, 2013

The first study of vision in diamondback terrapins finds the animals see a wider range of wavelengths than people do. 

Terrapins show off
Human eyes may not do justice to the spectacle of terrapins flirting. Male and female diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) in eastern North America gather in shallow water during breeding season. The first study of how these terrapins might perceive their potential mates finds that, unlike humans, terrapins see ultraviolet wavelengths as well as blue, green and red, reported Abby Dominy of Drexel University in Philadelphia on June 22. Terrapin shells don’t reflect UV, but the reptiles’ skin does. In shallow water enough UV penetrates for terrapins to show off their contrasting patches of shell and skin. Whether terrapins find the displays alluring is Dominy’s next question.

Might be giants

By getting creative in defining “island,” scientists have found a new way to test why creatures evolve giant forms when they move onto islands. Brian Langerhans of North Carolina

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