50 Fascinating Facts About the Evolution of Life on earth

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26Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is most likely so efficient because plants evolved to use quantum mechanics, like superposition, to aid efficient energy transfer. These are the same concepts we are struggling to utilize to make better computers today.


27. We see the colors that we do because that is just about the only spectrum of light that passes through water, the area where our eyes first evolved. There hasn’t been any evolutionary reason on land to see any broader spectrum.


28. Exposure to platinum can turn snails into their evolutionary decedents, the slug.


29. A species of cavefish in Thailand has been documented walking and climbing waterfalls in a manner similar to four-footed creatures such as salamanders, in a find researchers call “huge” in evolutionary terms.


30. Rosacea is a skin disease that is found mainly in those of Northern European descent and it is also known as The Curse of the Celts. In reality, it is actually an evolutionary adaptation acquired by ancestral Celtic people to fend off bacteria during seasonal periods of low ultraviolet levels.


31Blonde Hair

People on the Solomon Islands have a gene that causes blonde hair, despite their dark skin. This gene is unrelated to the one that causes blondeness in European peoples and evolved independently.


32. The avocado evolved to appeal to extinct megafauna (e.g. the giant armadillo) in order to facilitate seed dispersal via ingestion and excretion. This is why the avocado has such a sizeable seed.


33. The theory of “monster under the bed” is an evolutionary leftover from our hunter/gatherer days. In the human past, children would fear bedtime because of the threat of wild animals.


34. Two species of vultures (New World and Old World) evolved completely separately from each other on different continents, suggesting that vultures have a huge and essential ecological value in nature.


35. Rye and oats used to be considered weeds in wheat fields. Because they would get weeded out if they didn't look like wheat, they also evolved to have large seeds. Eventually, their hardiness compared to wheat meant they were grown as food in colder climates.


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36Narrow Nostrils

A study found that narrow nostrils evolved in humans living in colder climates so as to warm the air before it hit their lungs.


37. Sperm whales only have one blowhole which evolved from the left nostril. The right nostril is located inside the front of the whale’s head and has evolved into a pair of lips used for echolocation.


38. Elephants are all evolving smaller tusks due to selection pressure put against the large tusked males by ivory poachers, which allows small tusked males to produce more calves.


39. The crab-like form is so effective that at least five groups of crustaceans have independently evolved into that shape, in a process called carcinisation.


40. Female ducks have evolved a complex vagina with several dead-end pockets and tunnels in order to confuse unwanted mates and prevent fertilization from the wrong male.


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41Chili Peppers

Chili peppers evolved to be spicy because heat repels most animals except for birds, which are responsible for spreading their seeds.


42. Some rattlesnakes have now evolved not to rattle. Previously, they rattled to avoid being stepped on by hoofed animals. Now they’ve learned to remain hidden and quiet as to avoid being hunted by humans.


43. After 6.5 million years of separate evolution, the differences between chimpanzees and humans are ten times less than those between rats and mice.


44. Most Greenland sharks are blind due to a 3cm long parasite that latches onto their eye. The sharks have not evolved a defense because the parasite is bioluminescent and is theorized to attract prey to the shark’s head.


45. Fainting at the sight of blood may have evolved to help us “play dead” when attacked.


46Shyness

Shyness may be an evolutionary adaptation. The braver animals may find more mates and eat more food whereas the shyer individuals, hiding on the sidelines, might avoid the attack.


47. Poisonous food substances are the reason we find the bitter taste unpleasant. Our taste buds evolved associating bitter taste to poison because most of the poisonous wild fruits are bitter and nutritious ones, sweet. The feature which protected us for centuries is now causing major health-risks.


48. Even animals like jellyfish that lack brains need to snooze. Biologists have discovered that like people, jellyfish hit the hay and have the same trouble we do waking up. Because these creatures are very low on the animal family tree, the work suggests that the ability to sleep evolved quite early.


49. Hummingbirds cannot walk or hop. They have evolved smaller feet to be lighter for more efficient flying.


50. Camels originated in North America some 45 million years ago and roamed as far north as the Arctic. 3-5 million years ago, they crossed the Bering land bridge to Eurasia and eventually migrated south. They also ambled down to South America, where they evolved into llamas and alpacas.

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