Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Dangerous Lives of Squirrels

The thesis of natural selection is that those fit to survive, do. On this, even most candidates from both the Republican and Democratic tickets agree. But how does this apply to squirrels?

Each day, we see them run over by speeding motorists (often inadvertently). The reason most squirrels get hit by cars is because they are unable to hear that car coming until it's roughly three feet away. Ergo, one could posit that squirrels with better hearing are more apt to survive when crossing the street. If we can agree on that - then by default, as the squirrels with poor hearing are killed off, we should see fewer of the little rodents getting plastered on the motorway.

This is clearly not the case.

Now sure, there's the argument that "humans driving cars" is not a fair component of "natural" selection - though it's also not going to cease being a factor in the lives of squirrels. So my question is this - can the Darwinian theory of natural selection be applied to these circumstances? And if so, get with the program, squirrels. If we cannot apply the theory of natural selection in this scenario, I am left wondering if it really is fact that those fit to survive, do.

I also drive an SUV.

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