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/Cities

A poetic tour through Detroit's abandoned, ghostly Packard Automotive Plant

7 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Ethics

If soldiers act with unjust aggression they are as culpable as civilian criminals

6 minutes

Video/History of Science

‘I could not but wonder at it’: history’s first glimpses into the microbial world

7 minutes

Essay/Physics

This granular life

That the world is not solid but made up of tiny particles is a very ancient insight. Is it humanity’s greatest idea?

Carlo Rovelli

Idea/History of Science

The missing fossils matter as much as the ones we have found

Adrian Currie & Derek Turner

Video/History of Science

Energy is like children’s toys: often hiding out of sight, but never actually lost

3 minutes

volume_up
play_arrow
pause
Idea/Physics

Why we can stop worrying and love the particle accelerator

Joel Frohlich

Essay/Deep Time

Welcome to Terra Sapiens

Humans have been altering Earth for millennia, but only now are we wise to what we’re doing. How will we use that wisdom?

David Grinspoon

Video/Evolution

How the mantis shrimp’s six-pupiled eyes put 20/20 vision to shame

4 minutes