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Evolution in a Jiffy

The processes that drive evolution are not known for their speedy nature. Human ancestors, for instance, made the jump to hairless bodies as little as 1.2 million years ago. That’s a long time for a fairly routine adaptation. Of course, when the environment places extreme pressure on an organism to adapt or die, the process of natural selection can be greatly accelerated, as with the famous peppered moths of soot-blackened England, which evolved dark wings within half a century in order to be camouflaged on blackened tree trunks.

This Australian sea star may be a record-holder, though. After being geographically isolated (part of the “Five Fingers of Evolution” we saw in this TED Ed video) from their relatives, they were forced to shift from sexual reproduction to asexual reproduction in just 14,000 years! That’s the blink of an eye for evolution, and like warp drive for a change that significant.

The power of natural selection never ceases to amaze … 

( ScienceShot)

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