Evolution in reverse | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Evolution in reverse

Posted By on Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Hunting's never been my thing, though I come from a hunting family.  It is extremely popular in this state with some even taking holidays to start off deer season.  On the weekends, hordes of Arkansans head out to the deer camp to sit in the freezing cold for hours on end in the hopes of landing a big buck.  I'd rather sleep.  I did come across this interesting piece in Newsweek, though, about the evolutionary impact of hunting.  As it turns out, hunting is kind of like natural selection in reverse. 

Researchers describe what's happening as none other than the selection process that Darwin made famous: the fittest of a species survive to reproduce and pass along their traits to succeeding generations, while the traits of the unfit gradually disappear. Selective hunting—picking out individuals with the best horns or antlers, or the largest piece of hide—works in reverse: the evolutionary loser is not the small and defenseless, but the biggest and best-equipped to win mates or fend off attackers.

When hunting is severe enough to outstrip other threats to survival, the unsought, middling individuals make out better than the alpha animals, and the species changes.

It's an interesting piece, and something to think about.

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