Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Lizards evolved at snail's pace

Credit: Ettore Morone

Lizards of the Caribbean islands have changed little over millions of years.

Only three fossils of Anolis lizards have previously been studied, but now Emma Sherratt at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, and her colleagues have analysed a further 17 fossils entombed in amber (pictured) from the Dominican Republic. The specimens, which are 15 million to 20 million years old, revealed that the animals were uniquely adapted to the different parts of the trees that they inhabit, much as they are today. For instance, lizards that lived on twigs tended to be small with short limbs. Other fossils resembled larger lizards that live near the base of tree trunks and those found around the crowns of trees.

The findings suggest that communities can remain remarkably stable over long evolutionary timescales.

Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2015)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lizards evolved at snail's pace. Nature 524, 9 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing