Odd Fly Uncovers Evolution Secret
Interesting news about the robber fly of the Canary Islands. Species like the robber fly, which tend to be confined to one area, are more common in places that have a wide variety of different species. Scientists think new species are more likely to evolve if they are surrounded by an already rich biodiversity. The article has a good overview of speciation:
It is thought "speciation" - the evolution of a new species - can occur when two populations of the same species become isolated, allowing them to "grow apart" genetically over the course of many generations.
Eventually, the two populations become so different that if they were to meet again they would no longer be able to breed, meaning they had become separate species.
One species can also evolve into another if strong selective forces are placed upon it (where certain genes or genetic traits are favoured by natural selection), or if its population is small enough to allow for "genetic drift", which happens when certain traits are lost - or become proportionately more common - simply because the gene pool has shrunk.
But exactly what drives speciation is still not fully understood by scientists, and it is an area of intense research.
Finally, take a look at the last four paragraphs:
Professor Axel Meyer, of Konstanz University in Germany, who is eminent in the field of speciation, says the research is very interesting - if it stands further scrutiny.
"It is very thought provoking," he told the BBC News website. "I'm sure it will have people rushing to their computers to see whether this pattern holds up and it will be interesting to see if it does hold up in other systems."
He also stressed that a rich biodiversity could not entirely explain a rich biodiversity because, of course, you had to start somewhere.
"They are saying that if you have biodiversity it will create more biodiversity - I can buy that. But it still doesn't explain the initial step: how do you get more biodiversity in the first place?"
Here is a fundamental difference between the scientists who study evolution and the proponents of creationism or intelligent design or whatever they want to call it. When scientists discuss evolution, they welcome questions. They don't just accept what they're told; they point to the next question that the new findings raise. Intelligent designers avoid questions; scientists seek them.