Posted by: Jim | April 9, 2009

Evolution in Two Minutes

Discover Magazine recently announced a contest for someone to explain evolution in two minutes. Here’s my crack at it—some of you creationists might find this easy to digest. I can read the following text in two minutes, but I need someone to put it into a YouTube format.


Any volunteers?


Imagine a herd of Mammoths about two million years ago. There are smaller ones, a few huge ones, fat ones, swift ones, some have darker hair, some have very little hair. Some of them liked eating fruit, and some of them preferred grass. They were like humans in a way: alike for the most part but each one a little different.


One day, the herd split into two herds. One herd when north, and the other south.  Over the next few hundred years, the climates started changing. The environment of the northern herd started looking drastically different. It got colder, and harsher. Some of the fruits that were the primary source of their diet were no longer found.


The Mammoths that preferred grass over fruit were happier, and their digestive tracts were more able to efficiently process the grasses that were plentiful in the new colder climate. The Mammoths that had preferred fruits were struggling to feed themselves, and grew emaciated. The survived, but only barely. The Mammoths that had little hair started to become weak and sickly. The hairier mammoths did much better, and were able to keep their energy in the colder clime. The Mammoths that were smaller also did better, because the shrinking food supply made it very hard for the bigger Mammoths to maintain enough energy for their day-to-day lives.


The female Mammoths in the herd were very wily when it came to finding an appropriate mate. They started feeling much more attracted to the smaller, grass-loving, more hirsute Mammoths. So not only did the larger, fruit-preferring, bald elephants have a terrible time surviving, they also rarely—if ever—got to mate.


After a few thousand years, the entire northern herd looked smaller, hairier, and ate grass entirely. Their teeth flattened out to be better at digesting the grass. Their stomachs also adapted and stopped producing the acids required to digest the fruit their ancestors ate. A multitude of other changes occurred—all because the individuals in that herd that exhibited the different characteristics were more likely to survive in the new environment.


After more time, the members of the herd that went north were so different from their sister herd that went south, that the two could no longer mate.


Evolution had occurred.

mammothEvolution in Two Minutes



  1. That is a quick explanation of Micro Evolution. Nice job. It’s nice to start with a whole herd of Mammoths.

  2. Not micro evolution. That’s speciation. The two mammoth’s cannot mate.

  3. классный у вас блог, мне очень нравится

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