"Natural Selection has no pity"

Thursday, Sep 10, 2009

Now these Nazca Booby [birds] always lay two eggs but the second chick always dies, and I suppose we should see the second chick, from a Darwinian point of view, as a kind of insurance against the possibility of the first one dying.

The elder chick hatches about five days before the younger one. If the elder chick is still alive, it promptly kills the younger one. The parent makes no effort to restrain the murderer or assist the victim. But if the elder chick happens to be dead before the younger one arrives, the younger one serves as the insurance policy.

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Bringing two chicks into the world so that one may die seems horribly cruel to us, but natural selection has no pity.