What's Up World?

Animals upgrade their features for a chance to cool down6 min read

September 9, 2021 4 min read

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Animals upgrade their features for a chance to cool down6 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Climate Change Earth GIF by United Nations Human Rights

Are we going to survive climate change? Do you think humans will make it as a species? Are we going to be extinct by 2080? How do we save the animals we need?

stressed pokemon Sticker by Percolate Galactic

Have you ever thought about the answers to these questions? The chances are that even if you haven’t spent years wracking your brain regarding the solution to climate change, you’ve come across questions like these. However, perhaps the question we should ask ourselves is how long before humans change their ways? How long before we adapt our behaviour to co-exist with the rest of the planet? What is it that we can learn from our fellow animals? And, can we be an adaptable species with which others can co-exist?

Life Eating GIF by Mercy For Animals
This Is Fine Climate Change GIF by Creative Courage

As we stand by and observe more and more animal species disappear from the face of this Earth, most of us are left feeling utterly helpless. But as it turns out, our help may not be needed. Animals are racing to shapeshift to deal better with the human blunder of climate change. So, what’s happening? Are we living in a world of mutants? Is Wolverine on his way to fight off stubborn planet warmers? You’ll just have to wait and see.

x-men wolverine GIF

Evolution

Have you ever heard of the term evolution? Yes, evolution is the reason that humans aren’t monkeys anymore and that we even exist as separate species from our lovely simian cousins. It’s the reason that we stand upright and have twisty thumbs that allow us to grip things.

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Opposable thumbs

Do monkeys have opposable thumbs? - Quora
A human hand compared to the hand of a gorilla. Image: Quora

Did you know that humans are one of the few animals on this planet that have opposable thumbs? Do you have a dog or a cat? Have you noticed their paws? If you have, you’ve probably noticed that their paws are either thumbless or have a tiny thumb hanging off the side of their paws. Like most animals, dogs and cats have four long fingers that all point in the same direction. The fifth finger, the thumb, is either not present or not large enough for use. 

Playing Video Games Sticker by PlayStation

Humans, monkeys and a few other animals, on the other hand, have long thumbs that face opposite directions and can touch the tips of the finger of the same hand. These special opposable thumbs help us grip objects and hold things without the aid of our mouths. However, humans didn’t always have these (superhuman?) thumbs. 
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Why and how do we have these special thumbs?

Monkey Evolution GIF by Black Math

Like most other animals, our ancestors once walked on all fours and couldn’t use their thumbs to grip anything. And while being on all fours has its benefits, evolution seemed to have decided that opposable thumbs and walking upright was best for humans.

Thousands of years ago, when several human species co-existed, some people belonging to the species homo habilis seemed to have developed a strange mutation. Their thumbs were huge and could do things that no one else could. Slowly, humans with thumbs learned that they could use their thumbs to assist them as they struggled to survive in a treacherous world. Then, over tens of thousands of years, this particular trait got carried down to several generations of children, and now, almost all human babies are born with opposable thumbs.

HOMINIDS. Australopithecus Afarensis “Lucy” - ppt download

Turn down the heat

So, as you’ve probably already noticed, the planet is getting hot these days. And as you’ve also probably noticed, more heat means more discomfort.

But more heat means more than just discomfort. Think back to when you last had a fever. Did you do everything to bring down your temperature and get back to normal? Did you notice how your discomfort grew as your fever rose? Well, that’s because your body has a natural temperature at which it can function perfectly. However, the moment you get too cold or too hot, your body’s systems start to fail.

The rest of the animal kingdom is no different. Although all of us animals have different base temperatures, most of us(barring some microscopic creatures) experience complete system failures when our bodies can no longer maintain their base temperatures.

Now, it would be pretty great if the ambient temperature always matched our bodies’ temperatures, but that’s not the case. Instead, our bodies have various mechanisms to regulate our bodies’ temperatures. While humans sweat to cool down, dogs stick their tongues out and pant.

Did you know that when we shiver in the cold, that’s our bodies’ way of warming up?

Now, back to the shapeshifting creatures.

So, did a sorcerer’s spell just transform a bunch of animals? Nope, unfortunately, adapting is not that easy. However, several animals, particularly birds, are quickly trying to transform themselves to survive drastic changes in the climate.

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