• Question: is it possible for animals to evolve even further?

    Asked by mwong to Amelia, Jim, Liz on 23 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Jim Caryl

      Jim Caryl answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      Yes, animals continue to evolve as they continue to adapt to changing pressures such as availability of food, pressure of increased competition for those resources, epidemics that kill indiscriminately leaving only those with increased resistance, or just by gradual differences accumulated by two populations of a particular species that are geologically isolated.

      We can observe evolution in the sense that we can observe changes in the distribution of genes within a particular population, but what we can’t do with any great ease is observe the act of speciation, where one species separates into two distinct separate species, which is the process that Darwin first wrote about. We can only document its occurrence over great periods in time, because it takes such a long time.