|Head of a Dodo 1638 - Cornelis Saftleven (1607-1681). Probably the last depiction of a living dodo. |
Boijmans Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
For an illustration of the inability of evolution to predict the future and so lead a species to, if not actual extinction, then the brink of it, it would be hard to find a better example than this one from the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
Mauritius is famous, for amongst other things, being the home of that enduring icon of extinction, the dodo. The dodo was a flightless pigeon (itself an example of evolution because flight must have been something it lost after having arrived on the island) which went extinct in around 1662 probably through being hunted for food by humans and predated on by pigs. Hunting is probably too strong a word, as dodos reputedly had no fear of humans or any other predators, as there were none on the island prior to the arrival of European sailors. The Mauritius giant tortoise also went extinct for much the same reason.
But this wasn't the only example of dodos being incapable of adapting quickly enough to meet the challenge of a sudden environmental change for which the evolutionary process can have no mechanism for anticipating because it is not a pre-planned, directed process but one which can only respond to the environment as it is now. It seems that dodos suffered an earlier population crash when a 50 year drought about 4200 years ago caused a major source of fresh water on the island to come close to drying up.
The former lake is now a marsh in which very many fossils of both dodos and giant tortoises are found. Fossils are so abundant that it is referred to as a 'Lagerstätte' (German for storage space). Examination of the sediment shows that as the lake dried up, it became a lethal cocktail of faeces and toxic algae.
However, although some estimates put the number of fossil skeletons of dodos and tortoises at about 100,000, both populations were able to recover once the drought conditions passed, so that by 1638 when the Dutch first landed, both species were abundant on the island. Less than 30 years later they were both extinct.
Would any creationist care to propose an intelligent reason why dodos were created to be so specialised that they were killed in large numbers when their fressh water supply became toxic and couldn't adapt at all to the arrival of humans with pigs and rats into their environment?
'via Blog this'