Rapid Evolution Is Real…These Species Changed in Front of Our Eyes


The evolutionary process is one that takes
hundreds of thousands of years…right? Not so much. For some species, we’re seeing evolution
right in front of our eyes. This is what’s called rapid evolution where
major environmental changes in predation, food, or climate can alter the natural selection
to favor genes that were previously disadvantaged. It can happen in a very short amount of time. For example, in a period of five years, male
Polynesian field crickets in Hawaii lost their ability to make noise to avoid parasitic attacks. That is one of the fastest evolutions in the
wild ever recorded! Graduating college can take longer than that! Basically, one gene mutation led to a very
silent cricket, and his silence helped him avoid the parasitic attacks that were killing
his brothers. The problem is, female crickets like the song,
so without it the silent males needed to change their behavior. They started creeping on the singing males,
mating with those females that would show up and passed on their mutation. Boom. Rapid evolution. All this happened in just 5 years! 90% of the population is now songless. This fast-moving evolution isn’t exactly what
Charles Darwin envisioned back in 1859. He thought any changes would take many generations,
which sounds like a long time — but it doesn’t have to be. Darwin knew almost nothing about genetics. He was simply observing patterns in the wild,
but he couldn’t pinpoint why or really how long these things could take. But now, with advances in modern tech and
molecular biology, we can. Evolutionary biologists can identify and track
the exact gene adaptations that species have over time. But it ain’t the 19th century anymore, and
the environment for our planet’s little critters is changing quicker than ever before. What used to take hundreds of years now can
take a few because the animals are keeping up with their rapidly changing surroundings. In just 15 years, green anole lizards in florida
have evolved to have better grips in their feet to escape invasive species. Tawny owls, typically a grey dominant species,
are now becoming more brown as winters grow warmer, and maybe closer to home, in the last
50 years bed bugs have developed stronger enzymes to make themselves more resistant
to insecticide. You might think you’re safe because humans
are apex predators, but you’re not. Organisms can acclimate fast, and this includes
pathogens that can harm humans, and tumors that can resist chemotherapy. So yeah, humans should pay attention to rapid
evolution too. But now that we know about this, the better
we can understand how our environment affects our genes and have a greater chance to create
better medicine and other means of improving our longevity. We’ve come a long way from Darwin simply
observing finches in the Galapagos, but we still have a long way to go. Hey apex predators, like science in your day? Go ahead and check us out now on Prime Video. We made it big guys, you can stream all the
episodes you love, ad-free, and all in once place. We’ll throw the link in the description below.
Fun fact: Darwin went to the Galapagos and noted how different finches all had different
beaks. Today, we know the gene BMP4 helps determine
the different beaks of the birds that Darwin based his first theories on. Cool eh.

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