Seriously, evolution – WTF?

I don’t believe in evolution – or rather, I don’t need to believe in evolution. It just happens, in the same way the earth goes round the sun, or a river carves out the landscape.

So the idea that the amazing diversity of life on this planet has come from millions of years of natural selection is a no-brainer for me – how the hell else did it get here? (without invoking the supernatural or spiritual… that’s cheating, in my book).

But every so often I have a little wibble about it, when I see something that just seems utterly improbable – most recently this:

Moeritherium

What the hell is that? Sometimes I do wonder if the museum staff are just having a laugh

Allegedly, this is Moeritherium – an ancestor of today’s elephants – seen on a trip to the Natural History Museum with my little niece.  No offence, but it just looks ridiculous – look at those piggy eyes! The triangular head! The “Am I really a hippo?” identity crisis!  But given that we have elephants today, it must have got lucky at some point.

So… over to you. In your opinion, what’s the weirdest, wackiest thing that evolution has served up to us? Either extant or extinct.

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4 responses to “Seriously, evolution – WTF?

  1. No doubt it would have to be the Yak. The Yaks are very wonderful beasts that inhabit Asia where for many years they’ve been relied upon for fur, meat, transport, manure, and in some cultures an aesthetic object of celebration in communities – hence the occasional beads, ribbons, metal trinkets that are attached to them.

    A pair of disgruntled yaks waiting to be taken to a grassy knoll in which to eat.

    Higher up in the Tibetan hinterlands the Yak’s flabby bodice and prolific fur, plus care by humans, keeps them safe and in a happy state. Click ->here<- to see a Tibet peasent tending to his pair of Yaks.

    What makes a Yak any different from some cow you say? Why are they even weird at all? Not all that much unless we're going into genetics – as an animal it behaves in a similar way to its other bovine, sedate and generally contented cousins.

    However I, and at least one great programmer of classic videogames, have experienced visions of the animal which leads me to believe that the humble Yak is infact imbued with much the same supernatural traits in spiritual terms as David Cameron is with unabashed sincerity.

    ‘Behold!’ cried the Yak ‘I don’t know why I’m talking to a human, but let it be known that evolution isn’t a matter of moral or ethical belief…it just happens. Like many humans in youth becoming inebrebiated, or newspapers printing things even a Yak would not read.”

    If you think of weirdness in the sense of ‘not often seen in the animal world’ then docile bovines are odd. They give so much and take very little, are generally affable unless mating season or a perception of aggression upsets a herd, or be it hornified, gathering.

    So there we are – cows are strange, as unlike most humans or most other creatures they’ll provide so much and ask for nothing but a verdant field, a bit of supplemental feed, the occasional intestinal check for worms, and perhaps a cheap shed to slumber in for the rainier nights. Indeed they don’t even ask for these…they just appear to prefer them; we can learn many virtues such as the brevity, placidity, and the laconic from cows.

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  2. Hi Kat,

    I think Trilobites are some of the strangest looking/most awesome looking things to have evolved.

    http://paleodirect.com/pgset2/tr36-004.htm
    http://paleodirect.com/tr2201.htm

    They have a huge variety with spikes and spines going every which way.
    I believe they have the best examples of the early evolution of the eye as well.

    Another one is the deep sea Anglerfish.
    http://scienceblogs.com/deepseanews/2008/08/friday_deep_sea_picture_the_ex.php
    http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/printable/anglerfish.html

    I mean, when something evolves in complete darkness, “beauty” really isn’t high on the agenda of useful things to spend energy on.

    And then we have something that has just got to have some alien evolutionary roots being the Octopus:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4007016107763801953#
    Watch this octopus squeezing through a 1 inch hole.

    And then this one of them carrying around a coconut shell around for protection.

    Who said: “it was the use of tools that separates man from beast” Hmmm ?

    Cheers!

  3. Since people were all too happy to get in a huff when they themselves had ostensive cause to bristle their huffy quills but weren’t bothered replying to an intriguing topic like this…here are two more animals, both are part of the Sirenia order:

    Manatees are amazing flabby beasts who roam the sea depths in search of herbish plantish matter masses to feed upon. They were named after a woman’s mammary gland: The pre-Columbian word ‘manati’ meant ‘breast’ – what with Manatees being large, rounded, soft creatures this is astutely fitting:

    A manatee pessimistic yet enthralled by by the state of the world (Cleek!).

    The other Sirenian is the Dugong. This looks like a gigantic vacuum cleaner, and it too roams the sea depths in a mostly contented state whilst digging and hoovering up sea grasses plus general plant matter that proves of interest. This happily augments its bulk and keeps its temperament placidly contented.

    href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dugong_Marsa_Alam.jpg”>A dugong soberly slurping at a field of sea grass. (*Finger press*)

    Humans, with their lifestyle needs of rare mammal meat, hunt Dugong and damage their habitats. Indeed back in the 18th century a close relation to the Dugong – Steller’s Sea Cow (not named after the lager) was hunted to extinction. Never again, barring huge advances in genetics, will the world be graced by that huge sea cow.

    Total-geek: Who said “it was the use of tools that separates man from beast”

    Bob the builder.

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

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