7 Animals That Are Evolving Right Before Our Eyes

#3. Other Lizards are Rewiring Their Own Guts, Right Now

In 1971, scientists introduced 10 Italian wall lizards to an island in Croatia, but right after they dropped them off, the Croatian War for Independence prevented the researchers from following up on their little lizard guinea pigs. In fact, the scientists couldn't get back to the island until 2004. When they did, they found 5,000 lizard descendants who had not only annihilated the entire indigenous lizard population, but also rewired the shape of their own innards to accommodate the local diet.

Via sciencedaily
Experiments are currently being performed to rewire the human stomach to accommodate Taco Bell.

Before their introduction to the island, the wall lizards were carnivores, so their digestive systems weren't built for leaf-eating. But on an island short on insects and long on plants, a strictly carnivorous stomach would be a one-way ticket to Deadville. So the lizards developed things called cecal valves, which were muscles that slowed down the process of food digestion and gave them more time to break down plant cellulose. But growing new gut muscles wasn't all the lizards had up their sleeves. They also grew bigger heads for stronger bites, and dropped territorial defenses.

Getty
This man is marking his territory with a Waltz before consuming her head whole.

Scientists said evolution this rapid would be like humans developing another appendix over a few hundred years. Or better yet, Americans spontaneously evolving butt muscles that turn digested corn syrup into car fuel. That last one sounds pretty awesome, actually. Get on it, evolution.

Getty
"That's the shit-gasket, and this is the poop chute. I hate my job."

Then you have the three-toed skinks which come from Australia -- where the lizards are apparently gearing up for some kind of uprising, V-style. See those blobs under Mommma Short Arms' skin?

Via National Geographic
Downwind from the creepy little arms?

Those are eggs, which you'd expect. But her babies are going to exit her body alive, like some kind of freaking mammal.

Other lizards of the same species are still laying their eggs on the ground, as Xenu intended. But scientists think the three-toed skinks in harsher mountain climates have found it more efficient to keep their young in their bodies longer, because laid eggs are more vulnerable to weather and predators. And to accommodate the live birth of her lizardlings, her uterus is secreting calcium to her embryos, which is actually the beginning stages of developing a placenta. A LIZARD PLACENTA.

2, Peppered Moths Are Changing Color Due to Pollution

Despite what you probably heard on the streets, 19th-century England wasn't a totally radical time to live in. If Dickens is to be believed, raw sewage actually rained from the sky and street urchins ate coal for food (and don't even get us started on the dragons). Times were certainly tough back then. But if it wasn't for the Industrial Revolution, we wouldn't have all the spinning jennys and steam-powered locomotives that we enjoy today. And we also wouldn't have the classic example of evolution in action: peppered moths.

Getty
The Darwin awards existed back in Victorian times too.

Before there was such a thing as "environmental awareness" or "clean air laws," factories lived the lives of rock stars: raw materials came in, smoke, waste and soot came out. No regulations, no apologies, no craftily staged PR campaigns proving they were really the good guys all along. As a result, 19th-century England was a craphole of a country. Soot was everywhere; trees, buildings, streets, children, waistcoat stores -- everywhere.

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Hey, here's a cheery chimney sweep! All together now ... Chim chim-in-ey ...

In the midst of all this sootiness was the peppered moth, just minding its business, trying to get along in the world. Here was what it looked like:

Via Wikipedia

The peppered moth's mottled-grayish color was just about the same color as the lichen and tree trunks that the moths rested on. Which was important, because moths are bird food and birds can't chomp on things they can't see. BUT, as the trees trunks got sooty and the lichen died from pollution, the light-colored moths stuck out like sore thumbs. They also got eaten.

It wasn't long before people noticed peppered moths started turning the color of filth-covered trees:

Via Wikipedia

These moths blended in with the trees nicely, and black became the new black of the moth world. Within 50 years of getting noticed, 98 percent of all the peppered moths in England were black. And we should note that it wasn't just English moths who went black -- American and continental European moths changed colors during the Industrial Revolution as well.

But the story doesn't end there. Over the 20th century, England cleaned up its act and the tree trunks went back to tree trunk color ... as did the moths. That's right, evolution doesn't just plow relentlessly forward. It goes whatever damned direction it needs to.

#1. Grolar Bears are Coming to Get You

For anyone who's ever regrettably accepted a late-night booty call from an unfortunate looking associate, you can probably sympathize with the polar bear. Between the melting of the Arctic ice caps, ocean pollution and their obvious issues with obesity, some polar bears have found getting a sexual hook-up as hard as the rest of us find getting a gallon of gas for under two bucks.

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Every gallon you buy, another bear spends a cold night alone in his igloo.

Enter the grizzly bear. Ha ha, no really. Polars and grizzlies have decided it's time to know each other biblically, and this time without the involvement of an ark and a horny old man. Not only have they started boinking in the wild, they're also making babies. Grolar bear babies.

Via Wikipedia
The grolar: A proud and magnificent beast, killed and stuffed for your convenience.

The cutest thing about grolar bears is how they get together and stare down evil by the power of the light radiating from their tummies. No wait, we got that wrong. The horrifying thing about grolar bears is how they have carnivorous polar bear behaviors in bodies that are adaptable for warmer climates. So while the grizzly diet is 80 to 90 percent plants, the polar bear feeds strictly on the flesh of other animals. This is why captive grolar bear babies stomp their toys around -- like they would stomp a seal to death.

Via onearth
Here's an unconfirmed photo of one in the wild. We can't be sure it's a grolar, as no one has shot it yet.

So, the good news is that in the face of climate change, evolution finds a way to keep on keeping on. The bad news is that we just might lose our cuddly Coca-Cola loving friends of the North forever. Because the characteristics that allow a polar bear to thrive in extreme conditions are going to die out among the grolar mudbloods. After all, if the planet is getting warmer, why would the next generation need those traits at all?

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There goes our dream of staging armored polar bear fights in our ice palace.

And did we mention how, unlike mules -- which are the sex fruit between donkeys and horses -- grolar bears have proven fertile? So, in order to preserve the racial purity of the polar bear, it's going to have to avoid miscegenation with its brown neighbors. Not coincidentally, that's the exact platform of the Polar Bear KKK.


"Challenge accepted" -- Cracked Art Department

Kristi Harrison is one Billy Joel song away from being an uptown girl. She's also an editor for Cracked and a Twitter user.

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