It’s that time of year again—time to make preparations for the big day. It’s a day when foolishness is celebrated, and pranksters run amok. It’s National Atheist’s Day, better known as April Fools’ Day. Today we’ll look at one of Charles Darwin’s most far-fetched theories—a theory even a child can laugh at. This is one that’s only suited for a holiday as foolish as National Atheists Day: the evolution of the giraffe.
Darwin speculated on the evolution of the giraffe:
“So under nature with the nascent giraffe, the individuals which were the highest browsers, and were able during dearths [drought] to reach even an inch or two above the others, will often have been preserved…for they will have roamed over the whole country in search of food….Those individuals which had some one part or several parts of their bodies rather more elongated than usual, would generally have survived. These will have intercrossed [bred] and left offspring, either inheriting the same bodily peculiarities, or with a tendency to vary again in the same manner; whilst the individuals, less favoured in the same respects will have been the most liable to perish…By this process long continued…it seems to me almost certain that any ordinary hoofed quadruped might be converted into a giraffe.”
According to Darwin, during a period of drought, the tallest gazelles (for example) would have had food to eat, while the shorter gazelles would have starved. The taller gazelles would have had taller offspring, and eventually, after millions of generations, gazelles became the giraffes we have today. Let’s play along with Darwin and see where his idea takes us.
While all of Africa’s other grazing animals seem to have done quite well, the shorter gazelles that weren’t quite as tall as their cousins starved. What caused them, specifically, to starve to death? Maybe, in seeing their fellow creatures eat leaves from tall trees, they were too proud to lower their heads to eat grass. This may seem plausible until we recognize that all grazing animals (including modern giraffes) bend down to drink water. Darwin, however, maintains they died of starvation—not thirst.
Since only the tallest giraffes survived, all the females also must have died, as females are on average two feet shorter than the males. How exactly, then, do giraffe’s reproduce today?
Another Huge Problem
The giraffe’s heart generates enormous pressure in order to pump blood all the way up its long neck to its brain. Were it not for its complex blood pressure regulating system, when a giraffe bent over, it would suffer serious brain damage. If it managed to bend over without dying, it wouldn’t be able raise its head again. Its brain would suffer from a sudden lack of oxygen, and it would pass out. Here’s a four minute video with more info on that:
Furthermore, after a century of intense fossil exploration, no intermediate forms are on display in any museum in the world. The billions of giraffazelles have kept their remains well hidden. There is no intermediate form linking the giraffe to any other creature.
If you still believe that giraffes evolved, you may want to check yourself into a mental institution, or the biology Ph.D. program at a university. There are few other places where such fairy tales are believed. But keep your chin up. National Atheist’s Day is right around the corner.