Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tuskless Elephants

I love Discovery Channel.

Apparently, poaching of African Elephants has forced the selection of elephants with no tusks -- accellerating the process of natural selection in evolution by thousand and thousands of years. There have always been elephants with small or non-existant tusks, but the rate is nearly 30% in some larger populations. Wikipedia sums it up nicely:
African ivory hunters, by killing only tusked elephants, have given a much larger chance of mating to elephants with small tusks or no tusks at all. The propagation of the absent-tusk gene has resulted in the birth of large numbers of tuskless elephants, now approaching 30% in some populations (compare with a rate of about 1% in 1930). Tusklessness, once a very rare genetic abnormality, has become a widespread hereditary trait.

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