Animals Evolve Too Slowly, Climate Change Too Fast

 

A new study on climate change and evolution shows that climate change is happening so fast that many vertebrate species can’t evolve fast enough to keep up with the pace. They would have to evolve ten thousand times faster than they currently are to keep up with the climate change that is expected for the next hundred years.

The study compared the past rates of adaptation to the modern rates of climate change.  Scientists analyzed 540 vertebrate species and the speed of their adaptation to climate change in the past. This included amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The study concluded that land based vertebrates do not evolve anywhere near fast enough to adapt to the new trends of climate change, resulting in possible extinction if they are not able to migrate, acclimate, and eventually evolve. Each species has their own comfort zone when speaking about temperature, climate and environment, which is why you won’t see penguins in the Amazon or monkeys in Antarctica.

Related Article: Ask an Astrobiologist: Global Warming, and What to Expect

According to Wiens, who conducted the research along with another postgraduate research assistant at Yale University, findings show that on average, species evolve and adapt to climate changes at a rate of about 1 degree Celsius per million years. However, if the International Panel of Climate Change is correct and we should expect a rise of 4 degrees in the next hundred years, a vast number of species won’t be able to evolve quickly enough.

frog evolve climate

This little guy’s species can’t evolve fast enough to stick around. http://cdn.ph.upi.com/

These conclusions came from studying evolutionary family trees of vertebrates that show how species relate to each other through DNA. The data gathered from the trees was then compared with the data on the climatic niche of each species. This allowed the scientists to evaluate at what pace the species changed in their given climatic niche. Most sister species evolved to live in habitats whose temperature difference was just 1-2 degrees Celsius over the course of one to a few million years.

Related Article: Germany Sets Example for Global Climate Battle

Overall, most of the vertebrate groups contain some species that will be potentially endangered. It does’t have to be all that bad though. Species can acclimate but not truly evolve, or they could migrate to their preferred climate. Unfortunately, for some species this is not an option as they move very slowly or are required to go through habitats that are heavily influenced by humans.

It should be noted that most extinction cases are not a direct effect of the physiological burden of climate change, rather the changes in interaction with other species, as well as their food availability. For example, if an area experiences serious droughts and plants cannot grow causing low food availability for those animals, it would ultimately result in their migration or demise.

Although all life can evolve to meet the demands of a new environment, a necessary ingredient to evolution is time, something the world does not have.

Sources:

http://uanews.org/story/ua-study-evolution-too-slow-to-keep-up-with-climate-change

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23800223

http://www.ipcc.ch/

Wondergressive: Ask an Astrobiologist

Wondergressive: Germany Sets Example

Evolutionary Tooth Decay

Dentists have been around for thousands of years, presumably one of the oldest professions. They are also the most questioned and the most avoided by people because of their grueling and painful procedures. Well not really anymore; one quick tingly shot and you feel virtually nothing during a root canal or a filling of a tooth. However, if we floss daily and brush twice a day then we can avoid dentists altogether, or so I have been informed. There is also the saying that goes: an apple a day keeps the dentist away, supposedly by the exercise it causes for the jaw during the chewing motion and for the natural sugar substitute over candy. But could the crunchy apples also be better for your teeth than the mushy apples? Could it be that our comfort foods such as mashed potatoes and gravy drowned meatloaf (mmmm… meatloaf) are the cause of our teeth slowly decaying over time?

According to a new study, our light and mushy food may be causing a higher wear and tear on our teeth than our prehistoric counterparts’ diets! The study finds that through testing different artificially created teeth, food that is crunchier, like nuts, grains, and seeds, actually causes less stress on our molars, causing a lighter load on the teeth than softer foods. Does this have anything to do with our ancestors and how their diets were composed of raw foods and crunchy nuts?

The morphology of the crown might have been selected to maintain chewing efficiency throughout the life of the individual as the tooth wear increases

If our teeth evolved to complement harder foods, then by using them less on harder food and more on softer mushy food (yes the mushy-ness is beginning to gross me out too) have we perhaps doomed ourselves to an evolutionary decay in our teeth?

Ironically, it seems the lack of physiological wear may in fact lead to pathological conditions

Oh well, at least I can still eat my spinach salads with nuts to offset the, yes here it is again, mushy-ness of the spinach with a nice added salty CRUNCH! 

 

Research:

Evolutionary Paradox of Tooth Wear

Wondergressive: Dentistry

Wondergressive: Obese? Fatty Liver?

Teeth

Homer Simpson says

North Korean Propaganda About the Western World is Sadly Accurate

North Korea has recently released a propaganda video illustrating the consumeristic and capitalistic world of the West.  It sent shivers down my spine. In an endless attempt to better ourselves and our world, we may as well learn from any and all sources.

Strangely, the video is hauntingly accurate.  It is weird to think that a video produced in such an underdeveloped, struggling, downright crazy country can present so much truth about the life of the West in one package. Take a look in the mirror.  You have been born and raised in this society.

That being said, I am by no means claiming that North Korea is a great country.  It is a country founded on the deception of its citizens and a refusal to cooperate with the world at large (sound familiar?).  The North Korean government starves its citizens of healthy food and jobs on a massive scale in favor of an expensive, standing military (sound familiar?). Don’t get me wrong, despite working in South Korea right now, I don’t want to be anywhere near North Korea as it now stands.

Instead of talking about how much better we are than other cultures in the world, why don’t we compare ourselves to… our selves.  Growth and evolution (on an individual, communal, national, and global scale) for the sake of being the best we can be, not just one-uping someone else!

North Korea Propaganda About the Western World is Sadly Accurate

 

North Korea has recently released a film illustrating what it sees as Western propaganda; revealing the consumeristic and capitalistic world of the West.  The poignancy of the video sent shivers down my spine. In an endless attempt to better ourselves and our world, we may as well learn from any and all sources.

The video is hauntingly accurate.  It is weird to think that a video produced in such an underdeveloped, struggling, downright crazy country can present so much truth about the life of the West in one package. Take a look in the mirror.  You have been born and raised in this society:

That being said, I am by no means claiming that North Korea is a great country.  It is a country founded on the deception of its citizens and a refusal to cooperate with the world at large (sound familiar?).  The North Korean government starves its citizens of healthy food and jobs on a massive scale in favor of an expensive, standing military (sound familiar?). Don’t get me wrong, despite working in South Korea right now, I don’t want to be anywhere near North Korea as it now stands.

Instead of talking about how much better we are than other cultures in the world, why don’t we compare ourselves to… our selves.  I’m talking about growth and evolution (on an individual, communal, national, and global scale) for the sake of being the best we can be, not just one-uping someone else!

 

Sources:

North Korea Propaganda Video

Vice: Inside North Korea

The New York Times: North Korea Abandon Deal with US

United States Military Budget