New Species?

Posted 2009.08.06 18.30 in Pointless Blather by Stephanie

How many new species have come along in the last, say, 10,000 years? Versus the number of species that have gone extinct in the same time period?

I mean, I think it’s sort of somewhat common knowledge that lots of things have gone extinct in the last few millenia – we’ve all heard of wooly mammoths, mastadons, dodo birds, sabre-toothed tigers, elephant birds, and so on and so on.

But how many new species have sprung up in the same timeframe? I don’t mean the genetically modified man-made ones, I mean like in nature?

One of the quirky things is how you define the word Species, of course. My understanding is that for a critter to be a distinct and separate species, it is capable of breeding with its own kind and producing viable (fertile) offspring. So you can tell two critters are not of the same species if either a) they can’t interbreed or b) they can breed but their offspring are themselves incapable of doing the same. (A good example would be Mules – a cross between a horse and a donkey. Aside from a few very rare exceptions, mules are not able to reproduce.)

This poses an interesting dillema though. How does a new species occur, if by (our) definition it cannot successfully mate with any other species? Like, if one animal were to mutate/evolve into something new, that would only work if there were other critters mutating/evolving in exactly the same way and exactly the same time, so that there was a breeding population that was always in sync and able to carry on. And this is actually probably what happens – there’s got to be some time of crossover where the ‘new’ species is still able to interbreed with the ‘old’ version, and during that time we might call them a sub-species or a variant, but not say it’s a truly new and separate species. At least, not till the variant had gotten so far from its original version that the two were no longer compatible.

And I’m babbling again, when really the question is simple. In the last 10,000 years, how many new species have come into being, verus how many species have gone extinct in the same time?

Is the world in a net-gain or net-loss of diversity at the moment?

Locked Out!

Posted 2009.08.06 14.23 in Spiritual by Stephanie

Two wierd things in two days – something’s up! This morning when I was taking out the trash, the storm door locked itself behind me.

It’s an older door and is somewhat wobbly but the locking lever thingy is very tight and I never use it. It can only be locked from the inside, and it couldn’t have been the cats – they avoid the door, and couldn’t reach it anyways. So in the space of maybe 10 or 15 seconds, walk from the front door to the curb and back, I found myself stuck outside with my door locked.

Being wobbly and flimsy, the door wasn’t much of a match – I simply pulled really hard and it opened. But then I checked and sure enough, it wasn’t broken or stuck, the locking lever had definately been engaged.

What’s up with that? First there’s thumpy bangy noises chasing my cats around, then the door gets locked behind me?

Coming Undone

Posted 2009.08.06 11.30 in Life On Drugs, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

I had a dream last night about coming completely undone. I seem to be in an ever-increasing state of general befuddlement, punctuated by moments of extreme focus.

Like, when I’m on a task, I can really focus in on it and get at it, whether it’s work or fun or whatever. But in between tasks, half the time I’m clueless. I forget where I’m going, what I’m supposed to be doing, I can’t even remember for more than an hour things like what day is it, what month is it, what season is it? At times I have to concentrate to remember left and right. I make lists all the time, and then if I forget the list or I forget to look at the list then stuff doesn’t get done.

Like there’s so much going into my brain, it’s full, it’s on overload. To quote Homer Simpson, “Remember that time I took a home winemaking course, then forgot how to drive?” well ok it’s not quite like that. 🙂

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