When a species continues to survive and thrive, that’s an example of natural selection. Those species that are unable to adapt will be consumed by nature in one form or another, and natural selection weeds out the weaker species or those that have a glaring weakness. Charles Darwin was the scientist that made the term ‘natural selection’ a famous one, and it’s part of the everyday vocabulary in current times.
There’s a wide range of examples when it comes to natural selection, from how an animal’s skin is colored to how strong a certain muscle group is. Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most uncanny proofs of natural selection and how they’ve allowed certain species to be near the top of the food chain today.
When it comes to non-human animals that are a glaring example of natural selection, look no further than the giraffe. Darwin was fascinated by giraffes, which at one point were much smaller animals. Those with longer necks were able to survive longer and reproduce more, and each generation of giraffes became larger with longer necks. This allowed them to reach food at higher levels and the line has continued.
In the 1990s, scientists discovered the bones of a strange creature that had a thick skull and was the size of a larger sheep. It turns out that the giraffe evolved from this creature, which is why you still see giraffes headbutt each other as the skulls have remained relatively the same. However, with the long necks, it’s quite a show to see two giraffes go at it.
For ants, the colony is everything, and they’ll do whatever they can to make sure that their colony is protected. Warrior ants are a big part of the colony, and they carry a chemical signal that alerts other ants they may not have seen before to not attack them. This works well when these ants end up being in the same colony, but natural selection has allowed some ants to take advantage of this.
Some of the warrior ants know how to imitate chemical signals from other colonies. This allows them to invade fully unnoticed and start to take down a colony from the inside out. When it was first discovered, the organ that produces this chemical was originally thought to be a rather useless one, but it turns out to be the most important for an ant’s evolution.
Camouflage is one of the best examples of natural selection, and it has helped many species survive over the years from the chameleon to the praying mantis. There are dozens of animals that use camouflage to either stave off predators or find food when out on a hunt. One of the neatest examples is the arctic fox with its white coat of fur which is able to blend in perfectly with its snowy landscape.
Birds, insects, and fish are among the creatures that have the most species that are able to camouflage. From being able to blend in with trees to the desert sand, it’s paramount for animals to hide their location from others.
To continue your bloodline in the peacock world, you have to have some really tall and colorful feathers. If it seems that peacocks are more colorful now than when you were a child, it’s because they are. With every generation of peacocks, they become more sensational to look at since the feathers are used for mating calls.
Female peacocks search out the males that have the biggest and brightest feathers possible. Because of this, natural selection has weeded out those with duller feathers. What’s interesting is that the feathers really serve no other function than to attract mates. However, peacocks aren’t exactly interested in what another’s favorite movie is or their personality type. It’s all about the feathers.
Green Anole Lizard
The green anole lizard and brown anole lizard have been at odds with one another for longer than most of us could even realize. The green type of lizard arrived in the United States first, settling in an ecosystem in Florida. Though both native to the Bahamas, the green anole lizard became comfortable in Florida, but the brown anoles soon made their way to the Sunshine State.
For green anoles, brown anoles are very invasive, and natural selection happened quickly. The green anoles who had more scales and larger toepads began mating, and within just a decade or so, natural selection allowed the species to adapt to the point where they could reach higher elevations for food than the invasive brown anoles.