Darwin got it right - it's survival of the fastest


Blackleaf
#1
The Times
November 17, 2006

Darwin got it right - it's survival of the fastest

By Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter


Once again, the great Charles Darwin has been proved to be correct. Not only that, but scientists have found that evolution can take place much faster than previously thought





THERE’S nothing like the threat of being eaten to make an animal evolve in double-quick time, a study of lizards has shown.




Twice within a YEAR the brown arole lizard has evolved changes in its body and behaviour to outwit a predator — confirming Charles Darwin’s theory on natural selection.

Changes in limb length were observed by biologists after they introduced a predator, the northern curly-tailed lizard, to islands off the Bahamas where the brown arole is found.

In the first six months the brown arole, Anolis sagrie, developed longer legs so that it could outrun its predator, Leiocephalus carinatus.

Over the second six-month period the arole changed its behaviour so that it spent far less time on the ground and longer on branches and plant stems.

After a year the surviving aroles had much shorter, stumpier legs that were more suited to clinging on to thin branches. “We showed that selection dramatically changed direction over a short time, within a single generation,” the researchers reported in the journal Science.

They said that the findings counter the “widespread view of evolution as a process played out over the course of eons”. The evolutionary changes had been predicted by scientists after observing lizards on other small Bahamian islands, known as cays.

The researchers introduced the predator lizard on to six islands in the hope of observing changes and establishing how quickly they occurred.

Six more islands were kept free of the predator as a control for the experiment.

Aroles were already present on the islands selected for the experiment. The predator was a species present on nearby islands and known to colonise cays naturally.

Jonathan Losos, of Harvard University, said: “Long-legged lizards fared best at first, because they could run faster. As they began climbing trees to escape, however, short-legged individuals proved more nimble on the branches and more likely to survive. “These changes occurred within a single generation, showing how the effects of natural selection can play out very quickly.”


thetimesonline.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:35 PM..
 
gearheaded1
#2
Yes indeed nothing like a good jog through the savanna in front of a lion to make to practice your sprints... Fun post! With pictures to boot!!

Word to the the wise, contrary to popular belief it wasn't Darwin the coined the phrase "survival of the fittest", it was coined by Herbert Spenser in 1864. Darwin's "decent with modification" wasn't nearly so catchy and certainly would not ever be used as a Hollywood blockbuster title. Darwin did however like the phrase with came out 5 years after his print of "On the Origin of Species", which ironically wasn't anything at all about the origin of where species came from, but rather on how traits are passed on to subsequent generations.

It is generally accepted, as you point out with your "great Charles Darwin" (who wasn't at all accepted as all that great when he first came up with this thoughts - the way it goes with most new ideas) that his theory of trait passing from generation to generation, is the best idea that anyone has ever come up with. Due respect to Einstein, Newton, and all those other chaps.

P.S. You should read "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson, very entertaining and jam-packed with this sort of stuff.
 
#juan
#3
My favorite Darwin book, the only one I've got, is, "A Journal of a Voyage Round the World". I managed to get my hands on a first edition of this leather bound book about thirty five years ago. This is the best Darwin book in my estimation. It has all the splendid pen and ink sketches. I've read his other books, but this one is about the raw observations and adventures of Darwin during his travels on the HMS Beagle.
 
Tonington
#4
My father has that same book, I read through most of it last Christmas. One of my instructors told me I would make a good field biologist becuase of my pedantic drawings and diagrams. I laughed.
 
#juan
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Tonington View Post

My father has that same book, I read through most of it last Christmas. One of my instructors told me I would make a good field biologist becuase of my pedantic drawings and diagrams. I laughed.

Tell him to take good care of that book. I've been offered $3000.00 for mine. Collectors in England are reportedly offering 5,000 pounds for a copy in mint condition.

You probably would make a good biologist---as they say, "The devil is in the details". You seem to thrive on technical details.. Biologists, like engineers, have to be able to sketch.
 
Tonington
#6
Wow, I didn't realize it would go for that much. He has a wicked library at his house, I think my brother and I were arguing over who gets what last time we were at his house, Dad just laughed. He also has an old National Geographic atlas, it's huge, maybe 2.5 feet by 1.5 feet.

I'll actually be an Aquaculturist when I graduate. My favorite species are the urchins. Amazing little fellas.
 
Jay
#7
Quote:

Biologists, like engineers, have to be able to sketch.

I've been known to be sketchy at times....does that count?
 
#juan
#8
Fascinating field. Do you know where you want to work. I would say you'll be able to find work just about anywhere you want it. Both oceans, the great lakes..etc. I envy you. I'm at the other end of my career.
 
Tonington
#9
I fully believe that if Humans want to eat fish in the future, aquaculture will have to play some role. Heh, if the arctic melts completely we could be growing Char up there. To be honest I'm more interested in the engineering. Recirculation technologies, the large "bags" which completely contain the fish and waste, I have a buddy in Newfoundland who manages a site, they just put 150 metre polar circles, that is one heck of a lot of fish. Its more than likely going to be my second career. I want to do a tour in the military after my degree, preferably flying helicopters.
 
wolfking99
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Tonington View Post

I fully believe that if Humans want to eat fish in the future, aquaculture will have to play some role. Heh, if the arctic melts completely we could be growing Char up there. To be honest I'm more interested in the engineering. Recirculation technologies, the large "bags" which completely contain the fish and waste, I have a buddy in Newfoundland who manages a site, they just put 150 metre polar circles, that is one heck of a lot of fish. Its more than likely going to be my second career. I want to do a tour in the military after my degree, preferably flying helicopters.

Apparently fish won't be around in approximately 40 years...50 if you want to push it.
 
Tonington
#11
Thats at current fishing rates, hopefully government will finally listen to the scientists. By 2050, at current rates the commercial species will be collapsed, that is a 90% loss of population. I very much doubt that the populations can rebound from losses like that, especially considering the effects of bio-diversity on any ecological system. The fishing fleets will then have to try dragging the trenches...or fishing trash fish for consumption.
 

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