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Rock, paper, scissors, lizard

3 minutes

How multicoloured side-blotched lizards put game theory into evolutionary action

The side-blotched lizard, native to the sprawling Central Valley in California, has one of nature’s most fascinating breeding patterns. The males of the species come in three different colour varieties – blue, orange and yellow – with each colour corresponding to a different mating strategy. According to researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, each variety has a mating advantage over one of its competitors but a disadvantage in relation to the other, which is why male side-blotched lizards have been locked in an ongoing evolutionary stalemate for millennia. And when things get out of balance, the females step in to set things right. Amazingly, this evolutionary game of rock, paper, scissors has continued for 15 million years.

Producer: John Cassidy

Video by KQED Science and PBS Digital Studios

Narrator and Writer: Amy Standen

Video/Music

What happens when rock stardom doesn’t quite work out?

10 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Logic

Western logic has held contradictions as false for centuries. Is that wrong?

6 minutes

Video/Demography & Migration

On the US-Mexico border, loved ones on both sides can see each other but cannot touch

12 minutes

Idea/Space Exploration

To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it

Ramin Skibba

Video/Mathematics

Going from A to B isn’t always a straight line – but it can be very good fun

2 minutes

Essay/Human Evolution

Sex makes babies

As far as we can tell, no other animal knows this. Did our understanding of baby-making change the course of human history?

Holly Dunsworth & Anne Buchanan

Video/Cosmology

We are born of supernovas – our spectacular and totally ordinary origin story

4 minutes

Idea/History of Science

The most wonderful words in science: ‘We have no idea… yet!’

Daniel Whiteson

Essay/Evolution

Aliens in our midst

The ctenophore’s brain suggests that, if evolution began again, intelligence would re-emerge because nature repeats itself

Douglas Fox