Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't humans suck?

I mean it, really, don't we as a species really suck sometimes? Or, to be truthful, often. I got an ATC in the mail, the theme was Africa, and my partner I guess read my profile where I mention that I love elephants. So she chose an elephant as her subject for the ATC. It's the first one she's ever made, I think she did a great job. I'd post a photo here, but it's dark now and my camera wouldn't manage a good shot of it, even with lamplight. Maybe some other time. That's not the point, anyway.

The point is that seeing this ATC of course I started thinking about elephants, and what amazing animals they are ... and the fact that elephants in Africa now have so much smaller tusks than they used to have a few generations ago. Which, at least IMO, is sad, because those tusks are so unique and so special ... they're part of what makes elephants such striking creatures. Just think about it, a big old elephant bull with his shining white tusks. It's an iconic image. You see it and you think 'Africa'. :-) But yeah, that image is fading from African nature now.

Why? Because humans suck. >:-( Elephants are being hunted, and have been hunted so much, that we're literally seeing evolution at work out on the great plains of Africa. Well, I assume it's true of forest elephants as well, although I only know specifically of it happening with Loxodonta africana. But since the ivory of Loxodonta cyclotis is especially hard, it is very much sought after, so I'm sure the same thing is going on with both species.

What is happening is that because the big tuskers are the most sought after specimens - since elephants have been killed more for the ivory than for the meat, infuriatingly (this seems to be changing in recent years) - evolution is selecting for small tusks or no tusks at all. Simple. And people still don't believe in evolution ... ! It boggles the mind. It can be seen at work in Africa, and we are controlling it, even among wild animals. It'd be pretty fantastic if it wasn't so sad.

Look at this amazing animal ... Duke the elephant, a resident of the Kruger Park in South Africa. He now no longer has his tusks, or at least not in their entirety - he has lost them the natural way, breaking them while fighting (left tusk) and digging up a tree (right tusk). Look at this fantastic creature. To the minds of coming generations, elephants may not look quite like this ... to them, it may be just a story that elephants once had tusks.

Or that such a creature as the elephant ever lived at all. :-(

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