Archive for the ‘Paul Colinvaux’ Category

“There is really nothing else so odd about life as its variety”

August 1, 2007

“There is really nothing else so odd about life as its variety.  Consider the grasses of a pasture.  A dozen kinds of grass and other plants will live all mixed up together in an old pasture.  I once found five or six kinds of grass in a square yard or so of one of the manicured lawns of Cambridge.  But why should there be so many kinds of grass in a pasture or lawn?  Why is there not one perfect kind of pasture plant, ideally suited to the circumstance of pasture life, perfectly efficient at getting a living in that grazed or mowed-down space?”

“Animals live in a pasture too, and in even greater array than the plants, particularly the insects, which are present in dozens of oddly different shapes.  Why so many?  Why not one perfect grass-processing, pasture insect, together perhaps with its perfectly adapted predator?”

— Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare by Paul Colinvaux