Biogeography and endemic species are two great pieces of evolution. The former refers to the distribution of species across the planet and only evolution adequately explains what we observe. Take for instance Australia. It is filled with marsupial mammals, yet it is off all by its lonesome in the ocean. Clearly mammals did not evolve twice, the second time taking an alternative path to being placental. We need an explanation. The one we have is that this marsupial subset of mammalian life migrated down the Americas, through Antarctica, and into Australia. Fossil and tectonic plate evidence independently confirm this hypothesis – marsupial fossils are found all through South America and into Antarctica (and, of course, Australia), dating back to the time when those continents were still all connected.
Endemic species also constitute a nice bit of evidence for Darwinists. The man himself, Charles Darwin, saw quite an array of species that are only present on the Galapagos Islands, their relatives residing back in South America for the most part. (One of my favorite Galapagos animals is the marine iguana.) But there are far greater islands out there. Madagascar has to be the first to come to mind (and, in turn, its lemurs come to mind next for me). There is also Alejandro Selkrik Island, a place I mention in the first link in this post. And then there is Sulawesi, an Indonesian Island a fair bit north of Australia. It’s a haven for researchers who want to study unique flora and fauna, including many large mammals. It has a lot of protected land and animals (especially its marine life), so it’s a prime location for many biologists. One such biologist is Lynn Kimsey, an entomologist who recently described a pretty striking find:
It sounds like the stuff of nightmares – a wasp that supplements a vicious sting with jaws longer than its front legs.
But this is a very real newly discovered warrior wasp found on the remote Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Dubbed the ‘Komodo dragon’ of the wasp family, the males of the species measure two-and-a-half inches long…
Ms Kimsey, who is also director at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, said: ‘Its jaws are so large that they wrap up either side of the head when closed. When the jaws are open they are actually longer than the male’s front legs. I don’t know how it can walk.’
Luckily the species prefers to dine on insects, but if threatened it could leave a sizeable mark on human flesh too.
It’s a beast.
Whereas this is an insect which not only can fly, but can be carried away by strong winds, it may very well inhabit a number of other nearby islands. However, given its exceptional size, my suspicion is that it is the unique biosphere of Sulawesi itself which has given rise to such a monster. Perhaps the ‘Garuda wasp’, as it is to be known, can survive elsewhere, but my bet is that its currently only known island of habitat is where it can really thrive.
Of course, its current habitat is effectively random and haphazard without the framework of evolution to guide us. It is only with Darwin’s theory that we can really understand anything about the Garuda wasp or any other unique form of life around the globe.
Filed under: Evidence, Evolution | Tagged: Biogeography, Endemic species, Garuda Wasp, Lynn Kimsey | 25 Comments »