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Roadkill Forcing Cliff Swallows To Evolve

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,29 days | from the also-evolved-laser-eyes dept.

Science 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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387 comments

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210101)

cuz of evolution I made it here first

Re:first (5, Insightful)

pecosdave (536896) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210121)

That will be the downfall of your species. Those who march in front are merely the meat-shields for the warriors that follow, the first torn down by the musket balls and horse mounted cavalry while those behind remain to actually fight.

How come no animals have evolved 4D (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210111)

Any animal or fungis that has four-dimensional capablililtities would be totally awesoerme! It could evade owls and cars both at the same time with blood!!! But Darwin did not predict this, so, NO!

Tricky EIRs (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#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!

Re:Tricky EIRs (2)

cheater512 (783349) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210155)

Quick! Before it becomes a new established species, if you see one swerve your car dangerously to try and hit it!

The bigger problem is ... (1)

pollarda (632730) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210175)

There is going to be less meat on the little swallow wings. Less meat == less reason for swallows. Perhaps I should hit a few short winged swallows with my car to select for swallows with more tasty swallow wing meat.

Re:The bigger problem is ... (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210253)

There is going to be less meat on the little swallow wings.

So instead of swallows, they'll be gags?

Re:The bigger problem is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210283)

Less meat would mean fewer swallows. Oh! No, uh... Ha! A joke! Yes, yes, a joke!

Re:Tricky EIRs (3, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210391)

No. The change is likely morphological rather then genealogical. As a result they will stay the same species, just like dogs do.

Re:Tricky EIRs (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211481)

If you take a population of poodles, and breed them selectively for long enough, they would become a separate species. It just hasn't gotten that far yet.
These swallows can just mix with the general population too, but given enough time, would become a separate species.

Re:Tricky EIRs (1)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211483)

>> No. The change is likely morphological rather then genealogical. As a result they will stay the same species, just like dogs do.

And what if hedgehogs 'evolve' tungsten-carbide spikes that make car tires deflate so that they are fighting back the cars that kill them, and the car makers fit all their cars with caterpillar tracks... Would you consider those cars 'merely morphological' or genealogical different?
And what about flying cars, is /that/ a new breed to you?

Re:Tricky EIRs (2, Insightful)

NFN_NLN (633283) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210989)

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!

Unlike religion, taxonomy is based on science. You can't just name something a new species because of a slight variation.

Species:
A group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding.

If the short wing swallows can breed with the long wing swallows to create fertile offspring... they probably aren't a new species.

Re:Tricky EIRs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43211339)

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!

Unlike religion, taxonomy is based on science. You can't just name something a new species because of a slight variation.

Species:
A group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding.

If the short wing swallows can breed with the long wing swallows to create fertile offspring... they probably aren't a new species.

That's not "based on science". Nobody experimentally determined that to be the definition as if the English word "species" and its definition were a immutable naturally occurring property of the universe. That's merely "based on semantics".

excellent! (4, Funny)

arekin (2605525) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210135)

Now if only humans would evolve that fast...

Re:excellent! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210189)

Now if only humans would evolve that fast...

Or at all!

Re:excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210193)

We are, haven't you seen all the obese folks walking around? Apparently it is no inhibition to reproduction anymore.

Re:excellent! (3, Interesting)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210771)

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.

Re:excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210211)

Maybe we'll evolve smaller thumbs for texting on smartphones? That would be an evolutionary advantage, of sorts.

Re:excellent! (2)

Grayhand (2610049) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210677)

Now if only humans would evolve that fast...

We have. Our asses have spread to better secure ourselves to couches. Our bellies are also evolving into shelves for beer cans.

Re:excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43211071)

Humans are. Just look at all the solo mothers with 8 kids.

You're Welcome (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210141)

...And this is yet another proof that God exists. My prayer circle has spent the last 10 years asking for Divine intervention to halt the senseless deaths of road-adjacent animals. Thanks to our unceasing intervention, He knew to trim a wee bit off the tip of every bird's wings (gradually, of course, so that mommy birds would still recognize their babies - and left longer wings on the sinner birds so that they would die and serve as a warning to others). Praise Jesus!

lies, all lies (4, Funny)

spongman (182339) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210143)

these evolutionists are just trying to force these lies down your throats.

how can the birds be changed by the overpasses? the bible tells us that the overpasses have existed since the creation of the universe, 3 decades ago.

Re:lies, all lies (2)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210191)

This is clearly heresy. As is recorded in the bible quite clearly, overpasses do not exist, and have never existed.

Re:lies, all lies (4, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210237)

The funny thing, at least to me as a Christian, is that none of the other Christians I know would take issue with anything said in the summary, other than the use of "evolution" to describe natural selection and adaptation: principles with which they have no problems.

Re:lies, all lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210325)

A Christian would not call himself Anubis (heathen idol). Back under your bridge. Almost got away with it this time.

Re:lies, all lies (3, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210335)

... even though that's exactly what evolution is?

I think they have a hard time understanding what the Theory of Evolution really is. If they did, they'd suddenly find it's compatible with faith as-is.

Re:lies, all lies (4, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210693)

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

Re:lies, all lies (4, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211243)

Hmm...yes and no. When people talk about "evolution", they're generally talking about the creation of new species via the combined mechanics of random mutation and natural selection. Natural selection is something that everyone I know is fine with. Random mutation is something that everyone I know is fine with. But the creation of new species? Not so much. And in this case, we're merely seeing natural selection at play, which is not evolution, in and of itself, any more than a motor by itself should be considered a car.

Re:lies, all lies (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210341)

The funny thing, at least to me as a Christian, is that none of the other Christians I know would take issue with anything said in the summary, other than the use of "evolution" to describe natural selection and adaptation: principles with which they have no problems.

But that doesn't lend itself as well when people are trying to show how stupid Christians are, if they don't repeat the stereotype of a small subset of Christians then who will they feel superior to?

Re:lies, all lies (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210425)

http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/hold-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx

"Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God's guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process."

Re:lies, all lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43211249)

We Aren't the World: Why Americans Make Bad Study Subjects

http://science.slashdot.org/story/13/02/25/1659230/we-arent-the-world-why-americans-make-bad-study-subjects

Re:lies, all lies (1, Insightful)

spongman (182339) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211465)

Fortunately, zero percent of all the grains of sand in the world believe that god created man. There are fewer incorrect grains of sand than there are ignorant Americans.

Re:lies, all lies (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210377)

The funny thing, at least to me as a Christian, is that none of the other Christians I know would take issue with anything said in the summary, other than the use of "evolution" to describe natural selection and adaptation: principles with which they have no problems.

Dude, I gotta ask, how can you be on the internet and not have seen them?

Re:lies, all lies (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211311)

I'm not denying that they exist, merely that they're representative of the whole. I'm aware that they're out there. I just don't know any personally, despite having grown up in the church. In fact, I learned about those principles while attending a private Christian school, back almost 20 years ago now (and no, I didn't learn them as "these are evil ideas that Godless people will try to tell you are truth", despite the stereotypes and Internet crazies that might lead you to believe otherwise :P).

Re:lies, all lies (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210501)

This is a strawman. Not believing in universal common descent is different from not believing in natural selection and (random) mutation. In fact, it was originally theists and Christians even that formulated the idea that natural selection and mutations had a huge influence on our variations. Atheists came up with stuff like acquired traits, which turned out to be wrong. In fact, Darwin turned out to be wrong about just about everything. That atheists attempt to distort history after stealing Christian ideas and pretending it was their own, that it was something UCD and 'atheism' predicts is disingenuous.

"Eiseley, not a creationist, wrote that "Blyth is more than a Darwinian precursor, he is, instead, a direct intellectual forebear. . . ." In Eiseley's estimation, Blyth "belongs in the royal line . . . one of the forgotten parents of a great classic." On the same page, Eiseley also affirmed that "Darwin made unacknowledged use of Blyth's work."3

Editor Kenneth Heuer concluded, "this is Eiseley's discovery." Darwin had "failed to acknowledge his obligation to Blyth."4 He did acknowledge others (and even Blyth peripherally), but, as Eiseley demonstrates persuasively, Darwin for some reason chose not to credit creationist Blyth with the key element in his theory — natural selection."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Blyth#On_natural_selection
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Blyth#On_natural_selection

How dishonest of Dawrin. That's how these evolutionists work. Theists have these great epiphanies based on their belief in God and evolutionists steal the idea, refuse to give credit, and act like it is evolution that is what is supported by the evidence.

If you are willing to seriously debate this I am more than willing to debate this. Universal common descent is indefensible in the face of the evidence. But building strawman arguments and just assuming UCD to be true as an argument is just silly. I know these views maybe unpopular and the very judgmental nature of those here will try to discriminate against me for these views. But I am more than willing to defend my views. I say with confidence, universal common descent is absolutely indefensible in the face of the evidence. I am willing to defend that beyond simply making the assumption that UCD is true without any critical thought whatsoever. and deep down no one here will debate me because you know I'm right.

BTW, I am not the author of this site, but I visit this site and read it and post on it from time to time.

http://jackhudson.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/science-and-the-concept-of-god/

Re:lies, all lies (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211293)

I don't see a point in debating someone who I agree with. ;)

Go back and re-read what I said. You inferred something where no implied message was intended. All I stated was that the Christians I know, myself included, do not have a problem with natural selection or adaptation. Just a simple statement of fact. I did not mean to imply that because they have no problems with those that they must then therefore accept all of the tenets of typical evolutionary theory. It wasn't until I read your response that I even realized it could be taken that way, and that a few others seem to have taken it that way as well.

If you want the honest truth, I'm actually a young-earther, which is about as far away from a popular belief on Slashdot as you can get. :-/

Re:lies, all lies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210797)

So in other words, you believe in natural selection, but at the same time you refuse to believe in natural selection?

I too have a similar problem. I believe in the number one, but the number 1 simply does not exist.
I can't seem to get people to believe me that 1 and one are different values for some reason.

Similarly, I believe in the word "too", but don't believe in the word "also". People keep using them to mean the same thing, and I can't get them to understand they don't mean the same thing.

(A hint for those that are challenged: natural selection and evolution are both terms that refer to the exact same thing, and have the exact same meaning.)

Re:lies, all lies (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211421)

Calling an engine a "car" does not make it one. Natural selection is an important mechanic. In fact, you can't have evolution without natural selection, but that doesn't mean that natural selection is suddenly "evolution", despite your claims to the contrary.

Re:lies, all lies (1)

cheaphomemadeacid (881971) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211101)

Yes well , evolution is just a nice way of saying that all the birds with too long wings that chose to nest at an overpass, got splattered by traffic...

Bridgekeeper (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210145)

What is the new air speed velocity of an unladen cliff swallow?

Re:Bridgekeeper (4, Funny)

pecosdave (536896) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210199)

The one impaled on the antenna of a passing vehicle or not?

Re:Bridgekeeper (4, Funny)

Grayhand (2610049) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210689)

The one impaled on the antenna of a passing vehicle or not?

I don't know but the little fucker dropped his coconut and cracked my windshield.

Re:Bridgekeeper (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43211499)

The one impaled on the antenna of a passing vehicle or not?

I don't know but the little fucker dropped his coconut and cracked my windshield.

It was trying to do you a favour: cut the coconut in half, bang the halves together and you'll not need to pay for a car anymore.

Re:Bridgekeeper (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210223)

Evolved, or unevolved?

Re:Bridgekeeper (1)

ninlilizi (2759613) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210427)

I'd imagion Evolved would be faster. Due to decreased drag on its wings.
Conversely, it would also suffer less lift. Making its kinetic advantage limited to gravitationally focused flights.

global warming (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210151)

...are you sure we can't tie their shortening wingspan to global warming somehow?

not evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210159)

Natural selection. Not evolution.

No new genetic material is being added.

Two completely different things.

Re:not evolution (2)

WWJohnBrowningDo (2792397) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210207)

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution [wikipedia.org]:
Evolution by natural selection is a process that is inferred from three facts about populations:
1) more offspring are produced than can possibly survive
2) traits vary among individuals, leading to different rates of survival and reproduction
3) trait differences are heritable.

Re:not evolution (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210243)

OK so change the definition when things stop working out for you.

Kinda like "climate change"

Re:not evolution (3, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210353)

The definition of evolution existed for over century before genetic material was discovered.

Keep changing the goalpost because the facts don't match your dogma, kinda like "climate change"

Re:not evolution (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211175)

OK so change the definition when things stop working out for you.

Like you just did when you claimed natural selection but not evolution? No. That has always been the definition of evolution from when Charles Darwin first put it in writing.

Maybe birds with shorter wings don't fly as much (4, Interesting)

Leuf (918654) | 1 year,29 days | (#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.

Re:Maybe birds with shorter wings don't fly as muc (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210251)

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.

Fly less, grow obese [wikipedia.org]

Re:Maybe birds with shorter wings don't fly as muc (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210285)

Fly less, get less food, starve to death?

Re:Maybe birds with shorter wings don't fly as muc (2)

Leuf (918654) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210439)

Fly with a purpose when needed, live. Play dodge the highway traffic because you can, splat. If it takes more effort to fly then maybe you cut down on your recreational flying. Sort of like higher gas prices.

Re:Maybe birds with shorter wings don't fly as muc (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210463)

Not if you're a short-winged pimp swallow, having all the other long-winged swallows doing all the wing-work, while taking a cut out of every insect returned.

Re:Maybe birds with shorter wings don't fly as muc (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43211401)

I'm a short-winged pimp swallow. And short-winged pimp swallows don't commit suicide.

Re:Maybe birds with shorter wings don't fly as muc (1)

Solandri (704621) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211049)

Yeah, the maneuverability part was supposition (it's not like they tested the birds with shorter wingspans to see how much more maneuverable they were).

Here's an alternative possible explanation. Older birds are bigger. Older birds have slower reactions. As overpasses became more common, it was predominantly older birds which were killed disproportionately by passing cars. Consequently the birds may have increased in number, but their population distribution is now skewed towards the younger, smaller end.

Cliff Swallows (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210197)

I have yet to see a Cliff chew let alone swallow.

Not impressed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210213)

I would have at least expected some controlled laboratory tests and a data plot pertaining to air-speed velocity...

Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (5, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210345)

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:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (1)

KC1P (907742) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210471)

I'm wondering the same thing about moths. In the last few years I've really started noticing that when I'm driving my car at night on a quiet road with no traffic, moths that are fluttering over the lane will suddenly drop to the pavement as my headlights hit them.

Sort of like a fainting goat, only more useful -- moths who have mini-seizures when they see headlights must have a higher survival rate because now all they have to worry about (besides being bashed up a bit by the fall) is my tires, which are a lot less likely to cream them than the windshield/grill.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (2)

TheLink (130905) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210497)

Similar here I was wondering how long it would take for dogs, cats, etc to evolve to wait for traffic to pass before crossing.

I see hawks or eagles circling some highways nowadays - I wonder if roadkill makes up a significant part of their diet. But they'd better learn to avoid becoming roadkill too ;).

On a related note, I wonder if we are doing the wrong thing by eating/killing the larger members of various fish species while leaving the smaller ones alive. Seems to me for millions of years its been the smaller members of a fish species that have a higher death rate. Perhaps we should be eating the small ones and leaving the big ones alone. The big ones can usually produce more small ones.

hawks and eagles circling highway thermals (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211159)

re: I see hawks or eagles circling some highways nowadays
:>)
My understanding of why birds of prey are often seen circling highways is that they are taking advantage of thermals [wikipedia.org], rising columns of air heated by the asphalt/cement roadway surfaces, to power and maintain their gliding and flying. The fact that there's also an abundance of roadkill may have something to do with it also. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge-tailed_Eagle#Behaviour_and_diet [wikipedia.org] for how the eagles can observe thermals with their infrared vision.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211181)

Crows in Japan have made the most of it. They drop nuts into an intersection, wait for the walk signal and then pick out the meat after car tires do the hard work for them. When the sign changes to don't walk, they fly back up to a wire and wait.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (1)

only_human (761334) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211221)

And crows in Japan are tremendous coat hanger thieves for use as a nesting material.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (1)

Clueless Nick (883532) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211305)

I think smarter dogs, who check for oncoming vehicles before venturing onto a road, will survive more. You can notice this behaviour in a few dogs in places that have large numbers of strays.

It would be interesting to note how quickly this could result into an increase in the average intelligence of dogs (heh heh). Of course, not all dogs live near highways. This roadkill risk has arisen only in the last 100 years.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (1)

TheLink (130905) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211453)

You can notice this behaviour in a few dogs in places that have large numbers of strays.

The males seem to lose their traffic sense once a female in heat is in sight.

But that happens to humans too ;).

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (5, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210597)

Squirrels. They used to zig-zag back and forth (can't make up their mind) and get crushed. Now, they either wait patiently or bolt across the road when everything looked all in the clear.

But yes, it would seem the indecisive critters got weeded out.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210715)

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.

I wish deer would learn this trick. I had a pair of them stop and stare at my car. Unfortunately they chose a night when the road was like glass and my brakes were nearly useless. I finally managed to change lanes a few feet from them and they only moved after my car was even with them. If I hadn't grown up driving on ice I would have had a face full of air bag and two deers riding shotgun. Apparently Chipmunk behavior is evolving faster than deer behavior.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210987)

My theory is deer like to play chicken.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43211037)

Did you honk your horn at them or flash your headlights? Just curious.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (2)

lazy genes (741633) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210745)

The wolves are starting to learn new hunting tricks too. I watched a wolf chase a deer into traffic the wolf stopped on the side of the road and watched the deer dodge traffic. At night they wait by the side of the roads and wait for the car headlight to shine into the woods to help locate deer.

Re:Saw a Chipmunk Up In the Mountains (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210759)

Now, if he'd given you the bird as you passed, I would have taken that as direct support for evolution :-)

Wrong ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210365)

What the hapless biologists could not discern from their data is that the birds wings have not changes over an insignificant period of three decades; they submitted their report and their buddies reviewed it with glowing remarks.

The birds are just smart. That is all.

Evolution? Maybe... (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210413)

Yes, this may be due to evolution, not of the birds, but the automobile.

To generate increased fuel economy, today's automobile is a lot more streamlined than ones of the past. So there is less air disturbance. It may be that the birds with smaller wings are not affected by the turbulence as much as the larger winged birds are now, and can thus survive an encounter, whereas in the past, there was enough turbulence to affect the birds regardless of wingspan. Also, changes in traffic patterns and vehicle types changes the exhaust, which changes the local plant life, which changes the insect life, which ultimately changes the birds.

While it is simple to observe that long winged birds are being disproportionately killed and that the population's wingspan is growing shorter, and conclude that some sort of selection (Is it natural selection when birds are hit by cars?) is taking place, the reality may be quite different.

Re:Evolution? Maybe... (3, Insightful)

Vreejack (68778) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210853)

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

I have seen some really stupid write-ups in Science, but this one was concise and accurate. Roadkill birds have longer wings and the average wingspan has decreased over the decades of the study. It is known that birds with shorter wingspans are more agile in the air. The conclusion is that roadkills are placing a selection pressure on the birds for shorter wingspans. Turbulence is not actually believed to play much of a part, as death is caused when the birds are struck by cars, not when they get caught in their wake.

Re:Evolution? Maybe... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210929)

Is it natural selection when birds are hit by cars?

Why would it not be natural selection?
The environment in which the birds exist was rapidly changed due to the actions of another migratory species.
This new environment is more dangerous to birds with a larger wing span. The birds with dominant short wing span alleles were able to survive longer and produce more offspring. Ergo, the nature of the environment selectively breed for short wing span alleles in this species in bird. The fact that the environmental change that catalyzed this selective process was instigated by humans doesn't nullify the premise that this is natural selection at work.

To believe that humans are so far removed from nature to no longer be considered natural is hubris. Homo Sapiens is a transformer of the environment not unlike the earliest cyanobacteria that polluted the atmosphere with an over abundance of oxygen billions of years ago through their development of photosynthesis.

CO2 emissions (1)

growingtedium (1545623) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210421)

It's actually related to the amount of CO2 in the air - atmosphere volume has increased via burning liquid fuels, which increased the air density at the surface, which allowed shorter wings to provide the same lift as the larger historical wings. Or the car thing.

Just who is (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210459)

Cliff Swallows?

Likewise, all the idiot-proofing tech creates... (2)

KrazyDave (2559307) | 1 year,29 days | (#43210529)

more idiots. From antilock brakes to airbags to life-saving medicine and surgery, the more people likely to benefit from these technological advances ensures that more idiots, imbeciles and morons remain alive and viable to pass on their stupid-genes.

Wow..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210539)

You moonbats will believe anything. Yet you call those who believe in God crazy.

Look in the mirror, idiots.

AMEN!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210667)

Finally, someone with the guts to tell it like it is! Why can't you moonbats see the truth? Why can't you see that everything FOX News says is true? Why can't you see that Mitt Romney really did win the election, that he's sitting in the Oval Office right now, and that the sky is purple?

Glory, glory hallelujah! And you call us crazy??? Look in the mirror, idiots.

*Shakes head*

How do they know its evolution? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210607)

More birds with large wings dieing, and more birds with smaller wings taking over breeding is not evolution, its natural selection.

To prove evolution you should have to show that in their DNA it has mutated to make smaller wings. Big difference. Evolution would be expected only after heaps of gene mixing of small wing birds over hundreds of generations.

"Roadkill Forcing Cliff Swallows to Evolve" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210617)

Wow...am I the only one who thought thid was a new game devo? Or maybe, a new distro of Linux that I hadn't heard of this week.

Kinda Related... (5, Interesting)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | 1 year,29 days | (#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.

sure, thats one possibility, what about the other? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,29 days | (#43210837)

ill take the dark side of the observation and say its just the pollution from the vehicles that pass by as well as chemical's seeping into the roadkill before they eat it causing the birds to have stunted growth issues, in this case, when it comes to the bird's wing's...

"Forcing cliff swallows to evolve" (1)

muncadunc (1679192) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211127)

Slight pedantry: The swallows aren't being forced to evolve. The selection pressure is causing evolution among the swallows.

I call fake (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211245)

Just read the article. The wing span only decreased one centimeter. That is less than one millimeter a year. A one centimeter difference in wingspan won't help a bird at all, let alone one millimeter. You are not going to be "selected" because of one centimeter. Most of the birds I have hit with my car are usually in the middle of the windshield. To avoid the impact, the bird would have had to suddenly move more than two+ feet out of the way. One centimeter ain't going to help you there either...

I remember the 1980's. Lots of rain, lush green fields. Now here in the south in 2012, Everything is dead and brown, with fires everywhere from drought. Yet these two dimwitted "scientist" blame "evolution" for these smaller birds.

Probably just used the word evolution to get more grant money. Crooks...

That quickly? (2)

flimflammer (956759) | 1 year,29 days | (#43211329)

Is that seriously enough time for such an evolution to take place? I was not aware evolution happened so quickly, even accounting for their quicker viability for reproduction. Seems like there might be a million other reasons why this is happening, not because of something so recent.

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