Evolutionary Missteps: A Selection of Unnatural Selections

Evolution. It’s one of the most beautiful miracles of the natural world—too powerful to teach in many American public schools. But, for every animal that adapts in ingenious ways to avoid predators or survive in harsh habitats, there are countless creatures that unfortunately evolve traits that end up working against them.

Garden spider camouflaged to look like episodes of My Name is Earl.

Native to human homes, this species of garden spider developed a camouflage to match episodes of “My Name Is Earl,” assuming that it would air for way more than four seasons. After the show was cancelled, the spider’s skin clashed with the exciting new offerings added to NBC’s Monday-night lineup.

Barbel fish cleaning hippo's feet.

One of the most wondrous products of evolution is the symbiotic relationship. In Africa, the unassuming barbel fish will swim among the hippos, cleansing the mighty beasts’ bodies of parasites. In return, the hippo swears that it will absolutely get around to offering protection from the barbel’s predators by, like, end of week, tops.

Antelope with dunce cap.

Most scientists agree that it was a pretty bad move when certain antelopes started evolving dunce caps.

Santa evolving from a gorilla version of Santa.

In a series of articles published in prestigious academic journals, a team of evolutionary scientists from Yale postulated that Santa might have come from “some sort of gorilla version of Santa.”

Sea anemone with sexy legs lying on a top of a piano.

This sea anemone evolved a pair of incredibly sexy legs—but, without eyes, no other anemones could see them. We have so much to learn from nature.

Crawfish that look like Jojo Siwa.

Nature sometimes engages in a kind of evolutionary arms race, in which predator and prey evolve in repeated reaction to each other, in a deadly dance of survival. When a swamp egret evolved eyes that could better detect the camouflage of its crawfish prey, the crawfish species underwent eighteen elective surgeries to look like JoJo Siwa.

Seagull with braces in a Chase Bank parking lot.

My buddy Troy swears that he saw a seagull with braces in a Chase Bank parking lot. So, that could be an evolution thing, maybe.

Human in a parking lot afraid of its own mortality.

This dumb animal developed an awareness of its own mortality.

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