Monday, July 17, 2006

Roadkill and Evolution

I searched Google with words roadkill and evolution but didn't find anything relating to my thoughts and so I decided to pen them here. This is a fairly simple concept so I assume that someone has already written a thesis on this for their PhD.

In the survival of the fittest the weakest and worst adapted creatures for the local environment are weeded out. In an area with a lot of traffic that means turning them into roadkill and the gene that survives is that of the animal that can stay off the road or get out of the way of that car faster than your average porcupine.

Has the introduction of the automobile to the world redirected the evolution of some species such that traffic awareness has evolved in the animal kingdom? I'm sure that this could be measured if you could compare roadkill count, animal population, number of vehicles, and average speed of vehicles on a stretch of road over many many years.

If the theory is to hold true then you would expect the percentage of roadkill for each species to drop over the years if the traffic and speed of traffic remained constant.

This reminds me of rabbit corner on the Lowlands Road outside Estcourt in South Africa. The corner is a right angled corner on a gravel road. As such you need to slow down to take it and at night time even more so. No matter how slowly I would negotiate that corner after dark with the headlights on full beam a rabbit would dart out and under the wheels; sometimes two or three would commit Renault hara kiri at a time.

I believed that there there was a senior rabbit making a book on which ones would make it and waiting in the long grass just off the road there was probably a pack of hyenas with napkins already tied around their necks.

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