A new study featured in the journal Global Change Biology reveals how lizards in the United States have adapted to avoid fire ants.
Christopher Thawley, a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University and one of the initiators of the study, said the researchers looked at three separate characteristics of eastern fence lizards from 13 locations, Penn State News reported.
According to the study, lizards in areas where fire ants are present act differently from those in areas without fire ants. Those in fire-ant-free environments usually sit still and utilize their color to blend in with their surrounding environment as camouflage, which is most effective when facing their natural predators.
However, in areas where fire ants are present, that same strategy proves to be futile, as the fire ants attack in swarms. Instead, lizards are likelier to respond like humans: They move their bodies and hind legs to remove any ants and flee from the ant swarms.
Also, it was also pointed out that lizards in ant-free areas had shorter hind limbs than those in ant-present areas. The longer hind limbs allow lizards to flee ant swarms faster. This part of the study suggests that environmental changes can push animals off their natural course of growth for a new set of traits.