Steven Jones wrote:
SJ>It apparently also has an impact on life expectancy. FemalesSJ>
SJ>live around 18 to 20 years, Le Boeuf says, but "no male I know
SJ>of has ever lived longer than 14 years." ... [A good example
SJ>of sexual selection. But whether it's doing anything for the
SJ>long-term good to the species is unclear.]
The northern elephant seal has passed through a quite recent
genetic bottleneck. In the early 1900's, it was reported that
only 8 northern elephant seals were left alive after years of
exploitation in the fur trade. This news reached the
Smithsonian Institution, which promptly dispatched a team...
to obtain those remaining animals for their collection.
Fortunately (for the elephant seals), the collectors managed
to overlook some small group. Their descendents have
proliferated since then, but the legacy of the bottleneck
Burney Le Boeuf, BTW, is a cool dude. His research group at
UC Santa Cruz has been doing outstanding work for decades on
a difficult subject.
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