We Australians have a joke especially for when tourists ask why we’re not afraid to swim in the water with the giant sharks that live here.
“I don’t have to be able to swim faster than a shark.
I only have to be able to swim faster than you!"
Recently while reviewing Charles Darwin’s work on the Galapagos Islands something occurred to me….
As you know the Galapagos Islands have a huge array of very strange animals and it seems obvious that they have evolved from the standard versions of the creatures which have long ago become extinct.
The extinction itself is a given…some natural event caused a great lack of food, most of the animals died out, probably quite quickly. Some survived… the oddballs which had evolved very different ways of getting food. These creatures had that edge when food became very scarce. Whether the original extinction was caused by a fires from lightning strike or perhaps a year without rain matters not at all…what’s important was the fact that it shows evolution and natural selection can be fast and furious.
The breeding up may have taken many thousands of years, these strange animals pretty much already existed by this time and were thriving with many other similarly bizarre creatures. It was a time of plenty and they all did well until that one event… like a flick of a switch the evolutionary choices were made. The day before the catastrophe there would have been a great many animals of all variations, in natures wonderful way.
It suddenly occurred to me, that is right where the human race is right now!
We humans are all kinds of mixed genes in nature’s wonderful way.
We have bred up in a time of plenty. (The last ten thousand years since the end of the last ice age)
We are now well over populated.
The seas are nearly empty of fish for us to eat.
The forests and other natural reserves are now at their most depleted EVER.
Wild animals (for food) are at historically low numbers.
Even fresh water is getting hard to find.
…and nature is handing out population stresses each and every week. Not to mention what we are doing to ourselves with war, pollution and poor health choices.
I thought that environmental change was slow and that evolution was slow as well.
Now it occurs to me that creatures breed up in an uncontrolled manner to uncontrolled numbers when times are good…and that evolution itself is fast, furious and unforeseeable.
Natural selection suggests that when there is a catastrophe on Earth, those who find themselves already naturally selected to suit the new environment will be the ones to survive.
Am I right? Wrong? Or what do you think?