News Blog

Evolution and Extinction

Isn’t evolution a marvellous process? When ever I walk through the park, I never cease to wonder at animals and how they came to be. Take for example the giraffe. Through intense competition for grasses and other ground plants, the giraffe evolved to eat the inaccessible areas: high tree tops! I always ask the question when I give my Giraffe Talk, how did the giraffe get it’s long neck? New bones added?. Or just elongation of exisiting neck bones? People always ponder it. Here’s the answer: elongation. A giraffe, amazingly enough has the same amount of neck vertebrate as we do( 7) in our necks, they’re just grossly elongated! Remember, evolution doesn’t create new bits of anatomy, it just simply re-modifies old ‘designs’. It took a long, long time for the giraffe to evolve its long neck, about 30 to 50 million years in fact!Now look at the frog: a sleek, hopping creature, superbly adapted to life in to extreme environments.  It has taken this family, the Anura or “tailless ones’’, over 360 million years to reach this level of adaptation, which to me, is simply mind boggling. The frogs skeleton has been shaped by the environmental pressures they faced in their long history. It became a marvellous hopping, swimming specialised creature. Its back legs became longer and stronger. The pelvis enlargened, the ilium bone lengthened, the tail shrank and was lost. All to aid in the motion of leaping. The back limbs moved underneath the animals body and closer together. Consequenly, the fore limbs shortened and became thick and stocky, in order to brace and support the animal as it fell forward during leaping. Cool, eh? Slowly, but surely, the Anura became what they are today.

But the modern world seemingly is moving too fast for these creatures to cope. We are facing a frightening new stage in the Holocene extinction era. Animals are become extinct in a geographical ‘blink of an eye” having only  become extinct due to us. And that’s only the recorded ones.. It has been estimated that over 20,000 species have gone extinct since 10,000 B.C. Now the pace has qickened .504 have been disappeared for every, seen now only in museum exhibits, in the late 19th to early 21st centuary. New animals are added to the list every day, just last week, the Carribean Monk Seal was declared officaly extinct as was the beautiful
Yunnan white-handed gibbon. Evolution is a marvellous yet painstakingly slow process. It is environmental pressures that select certain animals traits to survive, therefore slowly creating new species. But when these pressures become too intense(  rapid habitat loss, pollution etc.),   the  special adaptations of certain animals may not evolve quick enough for them to survive.