another squirrel story
Nature is a lot more interesting than most people give it credit for. For example, about a hundred years ago naturalists in North America noticed a very interesting behavior in the grey squirrel. Called scatter-hoarding the squirrels would collect acorns from both the red and the white oaks which grew in the area and bury what they didn’t need to eat later when food was scarcer. Unlike the red oak acorns which are dormant throughout the winter months, the acorns from the white oaks germinate immediately and send down a large taproot and that is a pain in the ass for the squirrels when they go to collect them. Here’s the interesting part that the naturalists observed. To counteract this behavior on the part of the white oak acorns the squirrels learned to bite out the seed embryos which prevented it from germinating.
Or so they thought for a few generations.
In an interesting act of adaptation, the white oaks developed acorns which collected small amounts of potassium permanganate in one chamber and trace elements of ethylene glycol in the other. What happened next was intriguing. When the squirrels went to bite the acorn to kill it, instead it allowed the two chemicals to come into contact and the result was an explosion that not only blew off the head of the squirrel but left a small crater where the unfortunate woodland creature had been happily squatting only seconds before.
Squirrels, much to the amusement of the researchers who gathered to see this evolutionary back and forth, did not take this lying down. In only a few years they developed protruding beaver-like front teeth that made short work of the unexpectedly-volatile white oaks and soon the forest floor was covered in downed trees.
The white oaks would have none of it. Soon the slightest vibration would send a legion of explosive acorns cascading down onto the hapless creatures below the trees. Logging was quickly suspended and many an innocent picnicker was found torn to shreds by the nutty cluster bombs.
In an evolutionary “Oh yeah?!” not seen since the Tufted Puffin (commonly found in North Pacific waters) learned karate, the squirrels grew to unprecedented size (some reaching 18 feet at the shoulders) and developed a thick armor plating.
“Is that all you got?” the white oaks seemed to ask as seemingly overnight their acorns skipped right past coconut-size and ended up resembling thorny brown melons. Each with the destructive force of 100 pounds of TNT.
Scientists were absolutely fascinated. Never before had they seen such a remarkable example of evolution in action. The forests were abuzz with activity as enormous squirrel-creatures lumbered around trying to uproot deadly oak trees before they could unleash their fiery payloads.
National Geographic couldn’t get enough.
So there you have it. Nature is truly more wonderful and unpredictable than any of us could have ever imagined.
Oh shit. The trees can move. The trees can move!