Courtesy of Allen Chartier

David Crews' lab resembles an exotic pet store; there's not a mouse or rat in sight. This professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas, Austin, studies animals such as the inches-long whiptail lizard.

"I'm interested in the evolution of brain mechanisms involved in social and sexual behaviors," Crews says. "You have to have ancestral species." The lizard, Cnemidophorus uniparens, reproduces parthenogenetically, though it evolved from the still extant C. inoratus, a sexually reproducing species.

Behavioral genetics allows exploration of certain behaviors and can deduce the brain's potential, but these methods don't tell how the brain evolved. The whiptail must perform mating behaviors (mounting and receptivity), which are "vital to priming the neuroendocrine mechanisms that underlie the reproductive process."

Crews describes his work in the latest issue of the ILAR Journal.1 " [There are] things you're going to discover if...

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