EVOLUTION ENSURES The animals are well adapted to their situation. Sometimes, like predators and prey, those situations include the behavior of other creatures.And just as a published paper Chemistry Explains that it involves human behavior that can force dramatic changes in species in the blink of evolution.
Shane Campbell Staton, a biologist at Princeton University, is studying how animals adapt to human creations such as cities and pollution. His interest was inspired by a film about the fangless female elephant in Golongosa National Park, Mozambique. Their lack of fangs was thought to be the result of another human creation. The Mozambican Civil War lasted from 1977 to 1992 and was partially paid for killing elephants for ivory. It is believed that about 90% of the pachydermata inhabiting Golongosa have been killed. Therefore, biologists wondered if the rise in fanglessness might be an adaptation to make elephants unattractive to human hunters.
That was a plausible theory, says Dr. Campbell Staton, but no one actually tested it. He and his colleagues combined old video footage and research to conclude that about 18% of Golongosa female elephants lacked tusks before the war. Thirty years later, after that, the number rose to 50%. Computer simulations have suggested that even if the population declines, it is unlikely that such a rapid change will happen by accident.
In addition to confirming the changes, researchers managed to unravel their genetic roots.Toothlessness is caused by a mutation in the elephant gene NS Chromosome. (Like humans, two NS Chromosomes make women, NS When Y Make a man. Unfortunately for men, mutations are a package trade, with changes to nearby genes that prevent embryogenesis. Men who inherit the mutated gene die before birth.Women can avoid fatal side effects if they have one of the two NS The chromosome contains a gene that is not mutated, but it grows without tusks.
Fortunately for women, it is impossible to inherit two copies due to the details of how the mutated gene is inherited.Mutated males die before birth, so males that survive to reproductive age have an unmutated version. NS Make sure that the chromosome, daughter also has at least one copy.
At this time, continuous reintroduction of non-mutants NS The male chromosome imposes a limit on the extent to which the fangless state can spread throughout the female population. But given time and genetic recombination, evolution may unravel fangless mutations from maladapted mutations in adjacent genes, opening the door for men to drop fangs, Dr. Campbell Staton said. increase. There are occasional rumors about wild fangless male elephants, but at least so far, there is no solid evidence.
It seems unlikely that you will find it now. At the end of the war, the evolutionary pressure of poaching eased. The fangs have returned to a convenient tool, helping the owner to strip the bark from the tree and dig water. In recent years, the prevalence of fangless women has dropped to about 33%. But the speed of change reminds us that war can change not only human species but also evolutionary history. ■■
This article was published in the Printed Science and Technology section under the heading “Loot”.
The Mozambican Civil War created a fangless elephant
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