Hypothesis: The Tasmanian devil is an endangered mammal which will no longer evolve overtime.
Evolution is the state of which living organisms are seen to sophisticate or gradually change overtime. During the late 1700s, Lamarck’s hypothesis suggested that an organism can pass on characteristics that has been acquired during its lifetime to its offspring, known as the inheritance of physical traits. Lamarck used the evolution of the giraffe’s development of physical traits overtime to prove his theory. He proposed that as branches and trees grew taller, the giraffes neck would have to strain over a lifetime which developed elongated necks. A major downfall of his theory was that he could not explain how this might happen, though he discussed a natural tendency to perfection (holdrege, 2003). From this, he concluded that species started out simple and consistently moved toward complexity or closer to perfection. The theory of use and disuse suggested that If an animal often used a certain trait or characteristic, that trait would become larger or more capable then If the trait went unused which would ultimate in the reduction of the part. The research of Lamarck’s theory will help understand that the Tasmanian devil is no longer evolving (n.a, n.d.).
Early settlers and colonists described the endangered mammal as a notorious, fierce, nocturnal animal that screeches carry through the night. Short and bulky, the Tasmanian devil has thick black fur and is known for its strong and violent bite. They are found on the island state of Tasmania and are currently one of the most endangered species on the earth with a 64% population decline since 2004. The Tasmanian devil is mainly a scavenger and a hunter, feeding on whatever is available. Powerful jaws and teeth enable it to completely devour its prey, native animals such as wallabies, possums and small mammals. Despite the decline in numbers since the early 1990s, populations of Tasmanian devils remain widespread in Tasmania from the coast to the mountains. They live in coastal regions, open dry forests, and rainforests (tasmanian devil, 2018). Tasmanian devils are related to quolls, small cat like animals. The structure of the Tasmanian devil’s jaw and teeth are in many aspects developed like the hyena. The Tasmanian devil became extinct on the Australian mainland thousands of years ago, possibly following the introduction of the dingo.
The infringement of humans continues to threaten the declining population of Tasmanian devils. As humans take over the environment of the devils, they are forced to relocate or if staying getting hit by vehicles in the process. To fit the growing population of humans, governments are forced to build new infrastructure over their habitats causing deforestation and a lack of environment for the devils causing death from a lack of food and water. Tasmanian devils have been faced with a dangerous facial tumour disease (DFTD), an infectious cancer that only affects Tasmanian devils. DFTD is transmitted through biting, fighting and is one of the only cancers known to spread as a contagious disease. Currently 90% of the devil population have died from the vicious disease. Once the devil is infected, signs of the disease appear around the mouth, usually in the form of small pimple like lumps. These small blemishes quickly develop into large tumours, primarily on the face and neck and sometimes other parts of the body. The devils soon find it difficult to eat and drink, and usually dies from starvation, dehydration and the breakdown of bodily functions within three months of the initial appearance of tumours.
Due to the growing threats caused by humans and behaviour of the devils leading to catastrophic declining population rates, the Tasmanian devils are no longer evolving. Lamarck’s theory of acquired traits has proven that the devils can’t evolve anymore. The vicious behaviour of the adult devils has shown to be a significant cause to the deadly disease. Lamarck’s theory states that an organism with physical traits can pass it on to its offspring including traits like aggressive biting. If the offspring’s keep inheriting this, they will be open to the deadly disease assuring the extinction of the Tasmanian devils.
It is clear that the Tasmanian devil is an endangered species, which is facing many dangerous threats including the deadly disease, DFTD. Lamarck’s theory of acquired traits and the disuse and use of parts has proven my hypothesis that Tasmanian devils are no longer evolving.