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Roadkill Forcing Cliff Swallows To Evolve 387

sciencehabit writes "Cliff swallows that build nests that dangle precariously from highway overpasses have a lower chance of becoming roadkill than in years past thanks to a shorter wingspan that lets them dodge oncoming traffic. That's the conclusion of a new study based on 3 decades of data collected on one population of the birds. The results suggest that shorter wingspan has been selected for over this time period because of the evolutionary pressure put on the population by cars."
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Roadkill Forcing Cliff Swallows To Evolve

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  • Tricky EIRs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @10:11PM (#43210133)

    This could be tricky, if this gets classified as a new species, how do we factor in the need for persistant traffic in environmental impact reports? If we cut traffic this species would lose its competitive edge and thus habitat and could become extinct!

  • by Leuf ( 918654 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @10:20PM (#43210181)
    The article says it's because they are more maneuverable, but what if they just sit on their asses a lot unlike their easier flying longer winged relatives? Fly less, get hit less.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @10:51PM (#43210345) Homepage Journal
    I was driving up in the mountains a year or so ago and saw a chipmunk run out into the road between me and the car coming the other way. Now normally this is pretty much certain doom for the chipmunk, but this one stopped calmly on the yellow line, stood up and waited for us to pass before continuing. I've always wondered if the evolutionary pressure of traffic combined with their short generation cycles would lead to critters less likely to become roadkill. Guess I have my answer.
  • Re:lies, all lies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:07AM (#43210693)

    Evolution and abiogenesis are frequently conflated. Many Christians have no problem with the former, but do not agree with the latter.

  • Kinda Related... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperCharlie ( 1068072 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:12AM (#43210719)
    I had to go through a set of lights by a couple truck stops back in the day more than once a week. I noticed grackles (crowish kinda birds) that would wait on the posts or nearby for the lights to turn red. Then they would jump down and pick the grasshoppers and bugs out of the 18 wheeler grills. When the light turned green, they all flew back up and waited. They were quite well fed.
  • Re:excellent! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @12:22AM (#43210771) Journal
    Err, that's nothing to do with the evolution of sexual desire, that's only because we've become so incredibly good at making cheap food. Haven't you ever seen those stone fertility idols? Or heard of societies where obesity is/was a sign of the aristocracy? People have gotten extra sex because they were fat for far longer than they've been denied reproductive opportunities for the same.
  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @10:08AM (#43212833) Journal

    Um, what? Are you trying to suggest that bird wings are shrinking because automobiles produce less turbulence than they used to?

    No, I am suggesting that bird wings are shrinking because the automobiles are using a different blend of fuel than they used to.

    Further, I am suggesting that turbulence inducing vehicles might be harder to avoid. The wake could cause a bird to hit the side or rear of a vehicle, or whip it into the ground, or just be violent enough to snap the wing altogether without the bird even hitting anything. Who knows? If the types and sizes of vehicles, the frequency and distribution of traffic, and even the fuel composition of the vehicles travelling through the underpass were the same, then the conclusion would have been a slam-dunk. However, the traffic now is not the same as it was thirty years ago, so there is another variable in the scenario; a variable that could cause the same observed phenomenon (unlikely though it may be).

  • by Zordak ( 123132 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @10:49AM (#43213189) Homepage Journal

    I'd say that the Book of Genesis was part of Christian tradition, and that explicitly states that God created animals and man from scratch, in direct contradiction to the Theory of Evolution.

    What Bible are you reading? From Genesis 1:

    11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

    12 And the earth abrought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

    I'm missing the part where it "explicitly" says "from scratch with no evolution involved." It just says God said, "Make it so," all Captain Picard like, and then it was carried out through some unspecified agency.There are literally no details about how it was done. Likewise with the animals:

    20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

    21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

    22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

    23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

    24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

    25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

    Even the word "day" could better be rendered "time period." A "day" might be 1 billion years. In any case, evolutionary theory neither proves nor disproves God. In fact, if you read Origin of Species, you'll find that Charles Darwin was not the atheist demigod smarmy atheists like to make him out to be. He speaks quite openly about God and pontificates that "Hey, maybe this is how God speciates animals." (Also, he wasn't particularly concerned with the ultimate origin of life. He was specifically concerned with speciation.)

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington