[Photo of a black and white tegu lizard (Salvator merianae) by Wagon16 via Flickr & Creative Commons]
“Pitch Imperfect” is a series of blog posts where I highlight stories that I pitched but didn’t quite sell and discuss why it was tough to sell them. The goal is to share both interesting research stories and some of the obstacles in getting them into the news cycle.
–Hot-blooded lizards may hold clues to mammals’ evolution
–(shorter alternative) How mammals evolved their heat
–Cold-blooded Tegu lizards can turn up their own body heat during their breeding season, says Brazilian-Canadian study
Nine months out of the year, Argentine giant tegu lizards split their time between basking in the sun to recharge their cold-blooded bodies, digging the underground burrows where they sleep at night, and hunting insects. However, when their mating season begins, these cold-blooded creatures warm up. And stay warm, even while sequestered in their sunless burrows.
Researchers only discovered this temperature increase when they used surgical implants to monitor the lizards’ heart and breathing rates, said Brock University biologist Glenn Tattersall. When they dug deeper into previous research on warm-bloodedness, they realized their evidence lined up with an evolutionary hypothesis about how mammals and birds got their heat.