Mike Isaacson: Is Barack Obama a lizard?
Nazi SS UFOs
Lizards wearing human clothes
Hinduism’s secret codes
These are nazi lies
Race and IQ are in genes
Warfare keeps the nation clean
Whiteness is an AIDS vaccine
These are nazi lies
Hollow earth, white genocide
Muslim’s rampant femicide
Shooting suspects named Sam Hyde
Hiter lived and no Jews died
Army, navy, and the cops
Secret service, special ops
They protect us, not sweatshops
These are nazi lies
Mike: Thanks for joining us for what will probably be the weirdest episode of The Nazi Lies Podcast so far. As we all know, nazis lie about a lot of things. A lot of things. Plenty of these things are obvious: the biology of race, the history of civilization, the gravity of the Holocaust. But LIZARDS? Lizards. Today we are joined by evolutionary herpetologist Laurie Vitt to talk about lizards and why it’s extremely unlikely that humanity is ruled by a race of reptilian aliens. Dr. Vitt has his PhD from Arizona State University and is the George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma. With Eric Pianka, he is the coauthor of Lizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. Thanks for joining us, Dr. Vitt.
Laurie Vitt: You're welcome.
Mike: Okay. So before we get into the Nazi lies, I wanna talk about you and your research. How did you get into herpetology, and what has studying reptiles taught you about life on Earth?
Laurie: Well, I spent the first 11 years of my life in Billings, Montana, of all places. It's kind of a neat area in that it has a set of cliffs that go along the kind of the north side of the Yellowstone River valley, and the cliffs have lots of rocks and so on. It also has lots of rattlesnakes, bullsnakes, a few lizards, a few other things. And when I was a little kid, I grew up out in the country. And I spent my time hiking around turning rocks over and seeing what I could find, and I was bringing home snakes, frogs, turtles, scorpions, centipedes and almost anything you can imagine. And I even caught my first prairie rattlesnake when I was nine years old, and I kept it for more than a year.
So I was fascinated by virtually every animal I came in contact with, and I wanted to know everything I could about them. And unfortunately, most animal species have never really been thoroughly studied. When I discovered that, I thought, "Gee, this is something that might be pretty fun to do." Since I was interested in reptiles, mostly lizards and snakes, it turns out lizards are really good models for doing any kinds of biological studies. And the reasons for that include the following: they're usually common; it's relatively easy to get permits to work with them; they do almost anything that any other organism does; they're often easy to capture; they're easy to measure; it's easy to take a blood sample to get gene sequences from, and so on. And so the kind of key thing that studying lizards taught me is that ecological traits of individual species can only be understood in the evolutionary perspective.
Now we know a lot about the evolutionary history and evolutionary relationships of lizards, so they're really good models for anything that one wants to do and put in an evolutionary framework. Put a lot more simply, why do animals do what they do?
Mike: So do you have a favorite reptile? [Laurie laughs]
Laurie: That's an interesting question. I like all of them. And just to give you an idea of how many all of them is, there are now 6,972 lizard species that have been described, and there are 3,879 snake species, and there are 201 species of things called amphisbaenians. All of these form one evolutionary group. When we think about lizards, most people think the lizard, and they have no idea what the diversity is like. The neat thing is that when you look at an evolutionary tree of lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians, these other two groups actually radiate from within the group of things that we typically call li