Thursday, July 24, 2008


Evolution: Elegant Statistics

Photo: Nick Brandt

Elephant Drinking, Amboseli 2007

Photo: Nick Brandt

Elephants & Egrets After Storm, Amboseli 2007

Mathematics is powerful and beautiful. Using the mathematical tool statistics on theories of evolution help us understand the development and variation of sizes of the species.

"The variation is constrained, first by a hard limit on how small a species can become, due to physiological constraints, and second by a soft limit on how large a species can become before becoming extinct. After millions of virtual years of new species evolving and old species becoming extinct, the model reaches an equilibrium in which the tendency of species to grow larger is offset by their tendency to become extinct more quickly."

The African elephant is an example, as are the great white shark, the Komodo dragon, that some species within a taxonomic group are dramatically bigger (thousands or millions of times) than the typical species who normally are small.

For the resident Elephant Man who also have a thing for mathematics :-)

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