Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thinking About Darwin

This week's edition of Nature magazine features an article about the "grolar bear" - a cross between a polar and brown bear observed where the ice meets the tundra.  The authors and the media share a negative view that such breedings are a bad indication for the future. They warn of impending extinction of species as similar matings  create a population of hybrids and possible loss of critical genetic adaptations.  Wait a minute.   Isn't this the process that has brought us the diversity we encounter in nature?  Hasn't opportunistic occupancy of an ecological niche yielded birds and bees specially adapted to virtually every flower on earth?

The polar bear research is cast in the light of the broader topic of climate change.  My post here is not.  I'm thinking about Darwin and the celebration of evolution - the life affirming observation that as circumstances change so can, and will resident life forms.  Think what you want about man's responsibility for atmospheric carbon concentrations but marvel, too at the timeless force of nature.  The drive to survive, the imperative to mate, the instinct to suckle our young are not diminished.

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