We all know to some degree that the Anthropocene (human influence👩🏾🌾) is having a huge effect on the earth's 🌎 atmosphere🌫, hydrosphere🌊 (ocean, rivers), cryosphere (ice sheets) and the biosphere🌲.
We are influencing Earth's spheres and we are driving many species of life to extinction. This is especially true with the bigger animals like rhinos, elephants, polar bears, giraffes, etc—simply because humans are taking up more and more space leaving little room for bigger animals to roam and live (The Guardian, 2015).
However, it sounds like humans are driving all life on earth to extinction right? Wrong, where there's a major change/reaction there's an equal or opposite reaction... And wow, there is a huge opposite reaction!
Our effect on Earth, especially in big cities, are causing creatures to adapt and evolve in unusual ways. Beneath our feet animals such as rats, pigeons, foxes, cockroaches, seagulls, monkeys and many more, are being exposed to our constant abundance of weird foods, regressed nocturnal cycles, diminished natural predators, warm hidden shelters (buildings) and many more of our activities have become great opportunities for these animals to slip under our raider and thrive!
Here's a little story of what I have personally observed. I live in the big cities, I call London and Cambridge my home. I went to a drive-through at a fast food restaurant in Enfield at a huge retail park with my friend, it was a cool night around 11:00 pm, we chilled at the car park and had our meal.
Whilst eating, I noticed something really strange I saw a whole flock of seagulls flying around and eating leftovers from the many food joints nearby... you may think what's the big deal right? It was almost midnight!
Seagulls are not 'nocturnal creatures' at all! They're naturally adapted to find food during the daytime, our 24hr availability of food gave them a new opportunity to feed. I would also like to add, during the day, the shopping district would have been full of people, which could limit some of their opportunity to scavenge for food and late nights may be the best time for them to scavenge.
Direct vs Indirect Evolution
This is huge because this new habit and habitat will not only affect them now, but it will affect their entire biology epigenetically and then genetically, thus creating the basis of evolution, thus further providing the possibilities for a new species of seagulls to emerge.
Who knows! This has already happened to many species that directly live under our influence and control, for example, dogs, horses, cats etc. These domestic animals are shaped by what characteristics we want to see from them, thus 90 percent of what we see from domestic animals is deterministic—i.e being cute aww(cats), strong reliable (horses), obedient (dogs).
However, animals that 'indirectly' live under our influence and not in our control may develop characteristics that are very unique and different from many species in the wild, because all species that have ever lived have always been shaped and influenced by the existing Earth's spheres—i.e atmosphere, the oceans, the ice sheets, etc.
But the new human influence is a brand new addition to the sphere's and our actions seem to be aggressively making its place known to the whole world, though many species are becoming extinct as an indirect result of the activity of the Anthropocene, equally many creatures are adapting and thriving!
A Lesson from Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin explicitly mentioned this in his book (The Origin of the Species, 1859), he stated the habitat of a species influences the adaptation and shape of the species. For example, he discovered birds called finches. These finches lived on one particular Galápagos island, and eventually, some of them chose to migrate to other Galápagos islands permanently.
After many generations, the different islands provided different food and habitat for the finches, these finches as a result naturally developed different characteristics such as different beak sizes and techniques to adapt to the specific island that they lived on, so as a result the finches evolved differently from each other due to a natural selection of available resources and opportunities available to them.
Check out this documentary...
A great documentary that you must watch is The Future is Wild. It shows the Earth after humans die out and shows what animals may exist as a result of human behaviour after the extinction of humans on the Earth. It is a must watch so please check it out and enjoy!
Stay curious, stay blessed.