Centennial Museum gecko logo

Desert Diary


When we think of evolution, we often think of the clash between different species seeking the same resources or striving to kill or avoid being killed. Although these indeed do have their place in evolution, the events that produce adaptation take place largely between the members of the same species. Mostly this is the unconscious result of each individual merely attempting to survive to the best of his ability.

The following old joke emphasizes where the struggle occurs. Two campers were hiking across a mountain meadow when they saw a huge grizzly bear hurtling down the mountainside toward them, obviously intending to do mayhem. One hiker immediately pulled a pair of running shoes out of his pack and started to put them on. The other camper screamed, "You can't possibly outrun a grizzly!" To which the first replied, "I don't have to; I just have to outrun you!"

Except for this being a deliberately conscious act, the story sums it up well. The real competition isn't between bear and campers but between camper and camper.
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.