Elephants Evolve Smaller Tusks
“Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”
The New Scientist magazine has recently been running a series of articles entitled Unnatural Selection. These articles purport to show how the human race is driving evolution and changing the way that organisms evolve. One article gives a number of examples of this alleged evolution. The article claims that:
The average size of caribou has decreased, due to the big ones being hunted.
Longhorn sheep in France have not-so-long horns anymore – also due to hunting.
Snow lotuses in Tibet flower at half the height of what they used to due to vigorous harvesting for medicines.
But the most startling changes that the article reports is that elephants’ tusks are shorter than they used to be.
In 1969, 10% of female elephants in Zambia were tuskless. Today, 40% are without tusks. Since elephants are often shot for their tusks, females without tusks clearly have a greater chance of survival. Among Asian elephants, only the males have tusks. It is now thought that less than 5% of Asian male elephants have tusks, and that figure is decreasing.
It is not clear from the article, however, whether elephants without tusks are being born more frequently these days or whether it is simply that hunters have no interest in hunting a beast that provides no ivory.
It cannot be repeated often enough that this process is not evolution. The creatures started out as elephants. At the end of the process, they are still elephants, designed for their life by God.
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