I wonder whether modern civilization’s love for captive animals will cause a rift in the evolutionary chain.
Take, for instance, the whale. A mammal which has evolved to live its entire life in the depths of an ocean. Years ago (millions?) the whale was a creature that walked on land – it has vestigial limbs which are the equivalent of thigh bones – but now has a specialised tail instead. Without the need to leave the water the whales size continued to expand until, now, most whales are too massive to survive outwith the water at all – their bodies are just too heavy and they crush themselves to death.
An excellent biology lesson, for sure, but what on Earth am I talking about?
Well, evolution is based on the idea that animal species change and adapt over long periods of time to better suit their environment, right? So, if we, as humans, continue to keep species of animals in captivity will they then evolve into totally different versions of their wild counterparts?
Take fish, for example, which are normally suited to deeper waters and have evolved perfectly for that environment, however are now being kept in an aquarium. Their wild counterparts will continue to evolve for the deep waters but will they, instead, evolve to be better suited to a captive environment?
Not overnight, obviously, but over time.
Maybe it is something interesting to think about. Maybe it is a topic that scientists have already covered. Maybe I just have too much time on my hands.
Anyone have any thoughts?