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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book of the Week: The Green Anole and Cuvier

If you ever owned a lizard as a pet growing up, chances are good that you owned one of EOL's featured species, an Anolis carolinensis, or Green Anole, also sometimes called the American Chameleon, although it is not a type of chameleon. This misnomer comes from this species' ability to turn from green to brown. This species is the only Anole species native to North America, and is found primarily in the southeastern United States.

The Green Anole has played a very important role in scientific research, particularly as it relates to studying neurological disorders, drug delivery systems and biochemical pathways as they relate to humans. Furthermore, "in 2005, the scientific community overwhelmingly chose the green anole lizard as its first target species for reptilian genome sequencing" due to "the repeated convergent pattern of adaptive radiation on islands of the Greater Antilles, producing on each island essentially the same set of habitat specialists adapted to use different parts of the environment."

The Green Anole, or Anolis carolinensis, was first described in this week's book of the week, Das Thierreich, geordnet nach seiner Organisation : als Grundlage der Naturgeschichte der Thiere und Einleitung in die vergleichende Anatomie, volume 2 (1832), by Friedrich Siegmund Voight. The book itself is attributed to both Voight and the well-known Baron Georges Cuvier. Cuvier was a French naturalist and zoologist, well known for his work helping to establish the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology. Furthermore, he is well remembered as establishing extinction as a fact.

Das Thierreich, geordnet nach seiner Organisation : als Grundlage der Naturgeschichte der Thiere und Einleitung in die vergleichende Anatomie is a work of six volumes, published between 1831 and 1843. The volumes describe species from all across the Animal Kingdom, ranging from birds to reptiles and fish, mollusks, crustacea, insects and more. Take a few moments to take a look at the first description of our friend, the Green Anole, as well as the many other descriptions contained within the pages of these volumes. It is amazing to think that a species that was first introduced to the scientific community in a short, one sentence description would become one of the most important species in the study of human illness and animal physiology and behavior.

This week's Book of the Week, Das Thierreich, geordnet nach seiner Organisation : als Grundlage der Naturgeschichte der Thiere und Einleitung in die vergleichende Anatomie, volume 2 (1832), by Cuvier and Voight, was contributed by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

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