Sunday, December 2, 2007

Darwinian Deer

For years, a deer on the road would act exactly like a proverbial deer in the headlights and freeze - just where you couldn't possibly miss it with your car. The deer didn't seem to catch on that it wasn't a good idea to stand in the middle of the road when several tons of metal was hurtling toward it, and I wondered how long it would take before deer evolved to avoid cars and roads. It seems to be happening now: I am noticing many more deer who stand to the side of the road or leap off it when a car comes by instead of walking to the precise middle of the lane. Deer who recognize cars as predators have a much better chance of having babies than deer who think roads are convenient places to stand, so car-deer accidents should decrease in the near future (assuming the deer population doesn't grow too fast). It's not often that you can see evolution at work.

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