Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Tom W. Ecay

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

James R. Stewart, Joy E. Wachs


One hypothesis explaining the numerous independent evolutionary transitions from oviparity to viviparity among squamates (snakes and lizards) proposed that squamate embryonic development is independent of eggshell calcium. Recent research showed at least 25% of the calcium in hatchling oviparous squamates is extracted from the shell. Though not a direct test, these results are inconsistent with the hypothesis. To directly test the hypothesis, we removed eggshell calcium (through peeling) early in development of Pantherophis guttatus (corn snake) eggs. Survivorship to hatching did not differ between peeled and intact eggs. Yet hatchlings from peeled eggs were shorter (273.6 ± 3.4 vs. 261.0 ± 3.7 mm, p=0.0028, n=16), lighter (6.36 ±0.22 vs. 5.75 ± 0.23 g, p=0.0158, n=16), and had reduced calcium (40.8 ± 1.7 vs. 30.5 ± 1.8 mg, p

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

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