It’s a wolf! It’s a tiger! Well… it’s really more of a possum.
Life has found its way into every niche on the planet. Predators have come up with millions of unique ways to hunt, and prey have evolved equally as many ways to stay alive. Sometimes, though, there is a great evolutionary answer to a problem. When that happens, you get an animal like the Thylacine or Tasmanian tiger.
This is a Thylacine, a creature that inhabited the island of Tasmania until 1963 when the last of its species died in captivity. The Tasmanian tiger, as it is sometimes called, may look more like a wolf or dog, but these creatures were actually marsupials like kangaroos, possums, or koalas. And like their cousins, they, too, had pouches where they carried their young!
So, how do you end up with an animal that is completely unrelated to a wolf but looks like a close cousin? Here is where an interesting quirk of evolution comes in: convergent evolution. To explain more and give us a better introduction to the Thylacine, we have a great video from the awesome channel, It’s Okay to Be Smart.
So now, the next time you’re faced with figuring out whether or not two creatures are closely related you’ll be armed with a little more knowledge about how and why animals evolve the way they do!
Okay, so you may not be faced with those questions all that often (unless you spend time with curious children) but subjects like convergent evolution are an incredible reminder of nature’s skill as a designer and engineer. Over the course of millions of years, natural selection arrives at incredible answers to common problems.
If ever you are in need of some creative inspiration or a little wonder in your day, you really need only turn to the natural world and the magnificent way life has found a way to inhabit its every niche.
Oh, and if this article (or any other articles from Ever Widening Circles) has already lifted your day a little, please share us on social media or share our articles with a friend! Every recommendation helps build a worldwide community of people who wake up excited about this amazing world!
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Keep evolving your worldview!
To keep exploring wonders of the natural world, head over to our library of articles about evolution! We’ve featured some incredible creatures over the past few years.