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I'm sure I could do a little Google research on this, but I'll start here. I'm curious to know why the three rift lakes all have unique species that don't appear to be found anywhere else. I assume the lakes must be isolated by some physical feature.

In the US, we have regional variations in endemic species, but for the most part species are pretty widespread. There are thousands of lakes all over the country that have the same varieties of bass, trout, sunfish, carp, catfish etc. So why do Lakes Tanganyka, Victoria, and Malawi each have hundreds of cichlid species that aren't found anywhere else?
 

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Basically because of their isolation. These lakes don't directly connect to any other major bodies of water. Thousands(or however long ago it was) of years ago when these fish go stranded in these environments, they each adjusted to these particular environments. Due to the different envrionmental factors that these lakes have that other may not, these fish evolved differently than those of fish in other environments.
 

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It's a great question and is interesting to ponder. Most likely they are the way they are because of the isolation rather than the other way around. What I am saying is they developed while isolated. They did not develop after being isolated. So if this is true then they could not have influenced the rest of the world. Where as something like the 'blue gill' probably developed before it was isolated to a single lake. Has alot to do with how and when the lakes were formed.

No one was there so it's impossible to be certain but that is how I understand it.
 
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