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Survival of the Weak and Scrawny

January 11, 2009
clipped from


Newsweek had a really fascinating article this week about how hunting practices are leading to a kind of “evolution in reverse” as hunters kill off the “best” animals (whether elk, or elephants, or mountain goats, or whatever) and leave the weak and scrawny ones to propagate themselves. Of course, the article acknowledges that it’s not really “reverse” evolution, it’s just a shifting definition of “fittest”. When you add humans into the mix as a predator, suddenly large tusks or a big rack of antlers is no longer a survival trait, but becomes a detriment. Thus, the article reports, most elephants in Asia and Africa no longer have tusks, and mountain goat’s horns are getting smaller and smaller.

However, the article also cautions that this sort of “selective breeding” by humans may actually threaten the viability a species if hunting ultimately leads to a narrower and weaker gene pool
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