We have witnessed and been a part of evolution. Who would know better than human beings, coming from age of monkeys to homo erectus to this state? We have evolved drastically and still continue to do so. It is known that evolution is a very slow process. We didn’t change overnight. But did you know that evolution can happen in a matter of months? Some animals changed themselves naturally as a part of their evolutionary process in what can be called overnight in evolutionary terms.
Peppered moth are commonly found in Great Britain and Ireland. It derives its name from the black spots present on its white wings. This moth quickly changed its color during the Industrial Revolution.
How moth’s colour is dependent on surroundings. Wikimedia Commons
It was found that as a result of industrial revolution in late 1700s, 95% of moths turned black to camouflage themselves from predators on trees which had turned black due to pollution. Their offspring were dark too. But years later when deliberate efforts were made to curtail the pollution from city, moths of lighter colour again started appearing.
Charles Darwin in his Theory of Natural Selection, too, had observed this case and speculated an open-ended research for Bernard Kettlewell to investigate the life of moth behind their adaption. He explained that light coloured moth also camouflaged. They darkened with soot on trees and it benefitted them to escape from birds.
Second example is of Sparrows. In the year 1898, Rhode Island in the US was hit by cold storm and 136 sparrows fell on the ground out of which 64 died and 72 survived.
Sparrows have adapted to chilly winters. DesktopWallpapers
Hermon Bumpus, a biologist, noticed that those who recovered had different and more advance set of traits. Those were the ones who passed on the traits to the next generation. In his research paper, he included data and measurements of 136 birds that he collected from parts of the city and explained how the ones which survived were different from those which couldn’t survive.
The third example is of Anole lizards. In 2013 biologist Shane Campbell-Staton traveled from Texas to Oklahoma to study how subtropical lizards survive in dead cold winters of the US.
Anole Lizard adopting to weather conditions. Wikimedia Commons
On January 2, 2014 a cold storm hit the country and he had an opportunity to study the life cycle and adoption made by those lizards. He found one of the lizards dead on snow and tested its genes in the lab. He found out that evolution was in action. Not all lizards died, rather their offspring responded and accepted to low temperatures in better way. While their northern cousins were enjoying the summers, here, they learnt to survive in winters and their DNA reflected the same.
Evolution isn’t always slow. Many a times it happens as the necessity arrives or the environment drive the species to change. Here, we once are reminded of Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest.