Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The wonders of nature

A worm, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

I was thrilled to read yesterday about the discoveries made in the sea off Irian Jaya/Papua, whereby a team has discovered a number of new species of fish and coral, including a shark which walks under water.

I am slowly getting through Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale, where he goes on a journey back through time, meeting our 'concestors' - common ancestors. It is hard going and a little repetitive but we are now at the stage between land mammals and reptiles. The ebbs and flows of evolution are fascinating and all life on the planet can be explained through its actions.

We were just looking at why humans are relatively hairless and also why we walk to two feet (are bipedal) and here we have a shark, living in teh sea who has decided to walk. One of the often sited critisisms of Darwinistic evolution is that there are no intermediate animals. This is plainly a nonsense argument, as we are all changing in one way or the other and are part of a chain which will last until our extinction brings us to a dead end (like over 99% of species) or evolve into something else. Anyway, here we have it - a perfect example of an intermediate - a walking shark!

We also have an unspectacular, dull brown male wrasse transform into a spectacular blaze of yellow, blue and purple to impress females in their harem and persuade them to mate. Again, a typical Darwinistic phenomenon... the development of extravagant displays of colour as part of the game of sexual attraction... what a male has to do to attract the attention of the females. Like what we see in a peacock, a bird of paradise and even the common blackbird, with his bright yellow beak set against black plumage.


Here is a photo of a worm living in the sand in Dar Es Salaam. I wonder which concestor we share with each other?

As an aside, we were asked in the Blind Watchamler to guess which of the following three species are closest to each other: man, lobster and cod... the answer being, of course.... (see you tomorrow)


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