The sharp edges of the blue spiny lizard will not protect it against climate change. New research shows that it has gone extinct at 24 out of 200 sites in Mexico since 1975. The cause was not loss of habitat to spreading agriculture or sprawling cities. Rather, it was hotter springs, according to research published in the May 14 issue of Science.
And that means climate change could end up driving nearly 20 percent of existing lizard species extinct by 2080.
That's odd, given that lizards are known to thrive in heat and have evolved to conserve water. And their forebearers the dinosaurs certainly didn't mind a much warmer climate.
But it appears that warmer spring temperatures drive lizards to take cover and rest—rather than gather the food necessary to spur reproduction. The result? Extinction.
An analysis of more than 1,200 lizard species shows that this effect will not be confined to Mexico, and that those species that bear live young will fare worse than egg-layers. In fact, as much as 39 percent of all lizard populations around the globe could disappear by 2080. What's worse: extinctions caused by climate change are already happening—no matter what we do to try and stop them.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]