Sunday, May 11, 2014

From humble beginnings

Have you always wondered how we – along with eagles, beetles, sharks, wolves, and turtles – all developed from simple beginnings?

Or why there are so many types of birds or butterflies?

Or why we look so different from our early ancestors?  And from each other?

In face, if you've always been a little confused about evolution, the development of life on Earth, here's a great video explaining it:

Video by Kurzgesagt

As the video highlights, the random shuffling of DNA from any given Mom and Dad pair produces children that are similar to, but not the same as, each other.  It's the same with other animals (and plants).

In nature, some of the mixes do better in certain situations or environments and therefore are the combinations that survive and get passed down to the future generations. Survival of the Fittest!

hummingbird not much larger than a flower
photo: Tom Walker, Photographer's Choice, Getty images
You might consider a bird's long, thin bill combined with fast wingspeed and light weight to reach into flowers to drink their nectar.

Other mixes are either neutral or disadvantageous, making survival and/or reproduction less likely and therefore make life more difficult for their owner compared to peers.

For example, hummingbirds that are born heavier might have to expend more energy hovering at flowers and therefore not get enough to eat, which is, perhaps why don't see large hummingbirds.

Still other traits, such as our standing on 2 legs, are advantageous but not perfect or, like wisdom teeth, they lose their advantage as conditions or the animal changes. If conditions change enough, those traits gradually lose out to other traits that best serve the individual in the new situation.

So evolution results in a diversity of species that are well adapted to their specific environments. It's a beautiful world!

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