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Evolution and Roadkill

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posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 04:48 AM
I'm not sure how to put this, but here goes:

I was driving home tonight, and a jackrabbit darted across the road.
I barely missed him. But he made it , this time.

As I drove, I saw a few carcasses of assorted roadkill
Not all identifiable, but clearly some sort of ex-animal.
I have a feeling the flat ones are no longer good breeding material.

Then it struck me. No, not a car, but a thought.:

Animals generally have a hard time dealing with an approaching vehicle.
After all, ordinary predators are not THAT FAST.
But, over time, are they getting better?

Obviously the jackrabbit mentioned above, lived on another day. Maybe long enough to have another family.

Could there be an inherited behavior developing , that gives an animal the instinct to
look both ways before crossing? Or, maybe just better timing. a better calculator, telling the animal just when to cross without getting Flattened.

Cars haven't been around for long, so this kind of evolutionary behaviour may
not be catching-on just yet, but has anyone thought about, or looked into

Maybe someone could get some Research grant money to do a study?

I can't wait to read some of your answers!!


posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 05:08 AM
I'm guessing it would heavily depend on the % of the populations of these animals that are actually killed by vehicles. I think it'd be such a low % at the moment that the amount of time we've had vehicles is nowhere near enough for the traits to be that much of an advantage.

posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 08:34 AM
An evolution of behavior is the most likely scenario. But... yes, this may lead to isolated groups and the emergence of new species.

What's happening (on an ecological level) is that roads are dividing up the territories and foraging areas for animals, filling the spaces with dangerous items (cars, trucks.) While park authorities (municipal and state) are trying to create waterway corridors (buying land around rivers and streams so that animals can travel from one area to another), builders and developers are scrambling for the same land (people like houses that are close to streams and woods.

Mix a few ecologists and animal rights activists into the mix and occasionally you get areas where people and animals live in harmony. It's hard for the animals, though -- humans keep "changing the rules." The area where a duck might have lived in peace suddenly becomes crowded with other ducks or suddenly gets overrun with speedboats and jetskis. A badger might move into a stream bank, only to find it suddenly a part of a housing development with machinery and smells and dogs and cats running around. There's no eviction notice... the environment just changes suddenly from "a place where you could live and survive" into "something REALLY alien" and it changes almost overnight.

The ones that live are those best adapted to move through human spaces.

If we cut them off, we'll eventually see either speciation or extinction.

(I actually have a paper/study in the works about something very similar to this, based on wild animal behavior ("treaties", if you will) toward humans and the human environment. But it probably won't be finished this year since I have three other large-scale papers/projects to do, and I need to cement the theories in the animal study here with at least two other papers that build up the background of the idea.)

posted on Jun, 25 2004 @ 01:00 PM

Thats a good point, whats the percentage.?
TO me, it seems high..I have no real basis for that, other than
seeing a lot of carcasses each week. They're almost always less than a day old. Because of the number of Eagles, Hawks, Coyotes, that scavenge, after the kill.


I think the White tailed deer may be a good example of what you are talking about. the number in some areas have increased dramatically, since humans have moved in. It's usually not a good sign for top predators though, The deer are "cute" and the Bears, or whatever, are "scary".

I thought of another response to the roadkill thing. Larger litters, more rabbits
per birth. Sacrificing a baby or two, to the cars.

But, again,Coyotes thrive on the scavenging. Which, in turn, causes them to be exposed to vehicles. Maybe they will also develop techniques to avoid being run-over.

I wonder how long it would take, in an evolutionary sense, for behaviors to change enough, to be considered "part of the animal"?

Good luck on your research.

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