Anoles In Space

The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifting off from the horizon. Fellow lizarders Todd Campbell (L) and Casey Gilman (R) look on.

On July 8, we took a break from field work here in Florida to watch the launch of NASA’s last Space Shuttle mission. During the build up to the launch, I thought a lot about the end of the Shuttle program and of the scientific frontier that we are, at least temporarily, leaving. Naturally, my thoughts eventually turned to whether anoles have ever been to space. A quick Google search suggests no, although mice, dogs, chimps, fish, and frogs appear to have made the trip. Perhaps the anole community should write its congress-people and NASA representatives to ensure that anoles are included in the next round of space exploration. Imagine: how would anoles partition the International Space Station? Consider this null hypothesis: Anolis sagrei is capable of invading the moon. At the very least, it would make for a better Google search result than this.

As far as the earthbound anoles here on the spoil islands of Mosquito Lagoon, we haven’t many stories to report. We’ve been spending most of our time crashing through the forest during random habitat surveys; in other words, not very ideal for observing interesting lizard behavior. Instead, we’ll leave you with this moment of zen – a picture taken on the nearby mainland by Casey Gilman during a field study of the effects of perch compliance on jumping in A. carolinensis.

About Yoel Stuart

Yoel studies evolutionary ecology of Anolis lizards. He is a graduate student at Harvard University, in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.
This entry was posted in Natural History Observations, Notes from the Field. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Anoles In Space

  1. Jonathan Losos says:

    Anoles are adept at hanging onto fast moving vehicles. I see no reason to believe that over the course of many years, one hasn’t been on the exterior of the shuttle and rocketed out into space.

  2. Yoel Stuart says:

    That would be some ride!

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