Minimum Security by Stephanie McMillan

Minimum Security

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  1. Lenin Out of the Box

    Lenin Out of the Box said, about 3 years ago

    Not to bring rain on parade, but the idea of slow, gradual evolution is an old (defunct) concept. Scientific study over the last few decades has revealed a process of impressive movements followed by plateaus of little change.
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    A study of finches in the Galapagos Islands from 20 yrs ago revealed a dramatic 50% shift in the size of small finches over the course of one season during a period of environmentally-induced stress. The following generation returned to “normal” when the stressor passed a season later.
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    (compare to studies of rapid mosquito immunity to DDT)
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    But change is easiest when the population of a species is small. Differences of any kind will have an outsized impact on future generations.
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    Large groups are much less inclined to change, as differences tend to be diluted and diffused in the greater body, much as a pinch of salt might turn a thimble full of water bitter, but will be undetectable in a bowl.
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    As for adaptation via externalities, change through behavior is a common and widespread “shortcut” that bypasses the timeframes of DNA.
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    Giraffes have no immunity to the unpleasant sap exuded as a defense by the acacia tree. Evolving a biological counter would be a crapshoot, and one for future generations only. But giraffes have learned to eat a few leaves and then move on, before the unpleasant sap flows. They also know to attack the trees downwind first, and then move “up” the treeline, since the trees release a warning chemical that alerts other acacias nearby that an attack is imminent, which triggers them to push sap into their leaves. A behavorial response that bypasses biological need.
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    People put on coats when it’s cold, irrigate crops when it’s dry, spray lethal cocktails of chemical death on pesky bugs and rebel groups when needed. It’s a very long and old story.
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    Adaptation is rapid because it has to be. Were it not, life would have kicked it ages ago.

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