Over the years I have written four letters to The New York Times.Two of them were published which shows that my view points were taken into consideration.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Keeping an eye on the Pink Iguana!

The recent eruption of the Galapagos Islands’ tallest volcano left Gabriel Gentile breathlessly waiting for news. How was the pinky, he wondered. Would spewing gases and ash endanger the last surviving pink iguanas, a species Dr. Gentile, an evolutionary zoologist, is largely responsible for putting on the biological map?

So far, the roughly 200 pink iguanas, which live only on the northern slope of Wolf volcano on Isabela Island, seem O.K. Maybe that’s to be expected of a species that’s clung to survival in exceedingly harsh terrain, is at least a million years old, and has until recently evaded the gaze of humans.

Pink iguanas were first seen by park rangers in 1986 but were considered flukish rose-colored variants of the much more numerous yellow iguanas until Dr. Gentile and his colleagues determined otherwise in 2009. He said Conolophus marthae (named in memory of Martha, Dr. Gentile’s stillborn daughter) is genetically, morphologically, and behaviorally different enough to be its own species, and is the earliest of the three Galapagos land iguana species to split from their reptilian ancestor.

The New York Times. Photo credit: Gabriele Gentile


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