Over time, different animals have evolved to survive in different ways. Everything about a species — from its behaviors to its physical traits — has been developed to help the animal adapt to its natural habitat.
So when individual members of a species start to exhibit new behaviors, scientists definitely take note. One creature is changing so drastically that researchers believe they’re watching evolution in action… even though they have no idea why.
This strange-looking creature may look like a snake with silly tiny arms, but it is actually the yellow-bellied three-toed skink (or saiphos equalis), a species of reptile native to eastern Australia.
For most of its known history on Planet Earth, this type of skink has given birth by laying eggs, but recently scientists have noticed something unusual.
Yellow-bellied skinks in the warm coastal lowlands are continuing to lay eggs, but the same species in the colder mountainous regions are starting to give birth to live young.
This means that this type of skink is evolving to a new method of reproduction right before our very eyes.
Throughout history, nearly 100 reptile lineages have transitioned from egg-laying to live births over time, and today roughly 20% of living snakes and lizards give birth to live young.
However, the yellow-bellied three-toed skink is the first time in history that scientists have caught a reptile transitioning from one behavior to the other.
See more of the yellow-bellied skink’s crazy behavior on the next page!