Was the gecko a slave ship stowaway?

African house geckos have become common throughout warmer climates in the Americas. Credit: Postdlf

Long before the pet brought pythons to the Everglades or tegus to South Carolina, species still caught rides on ships that carried them to foreign continents. A common fixture on walls from Florida to South America, the African house gecko (Hemidactylus mabouia) is one species that made the journey long ago. A recent paper published in Royal Society Open Science reconstructed the gecko’s evolutionary history and tested the theory that the reptile’s arrival in the Americas dates back to the slave trade. While they can’t rule out some of means of arrival, researchers cross-referenced historical observations of geckos in the Americas with areas involved in the slave trade and concluded they were most likely stowaways on slave ships.

Read more in the New York Times.