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The power of nature…

Friday, June 16, 2017

We invented the wheel, the computer, have mastered flight and even landed on the moon, but are we really the most powerful species?

During December I carried out a lot of tree surveys and I was amazed when I came across an ash tree which had completely engulfed a section of plastic-covered wire fence. It was as if the tree had just opened an invisible mouth and swallowed the part of the fence which was in its way with ease – in time it will be as if the fence was never there.

Nature is remarkable. The meagre springtail - an insect-like organism found in the soil – is no bigger than a grain of rice but it can jump so high that the human equivalent would be like you or I jumping the height of the Eiffel Tower. The North American wood frog can survive through winter by assuming a state in which its body freezes, and then thaws in the spring. Humans are in trouble if they forget their coats on a frosty night!

The amazing technicoloured mantis shrimp has such strong and fast club-like appendages to stun its prey with, that, if humans had the equivalent strength and speed, they could punch through steel and throw frisbees into space! Even the humble pigeon can see colours that we will never be able to even imagine as the visual pigment in the cones of their retinas that absorbs UV light allows them to see the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum, not visible to humans. And the cone cells of birds contain coloured oil that human cone cells lack; this allows them to detect a greater contrast in colours that would appear to us as a very similar shade.

In my opinion, we are not as superior as we often think, I believe the reason behind this feeling of superiority boils down to the fact that many of us fail to recognise any forms of intelligence other than our own. There is no doubt that humans are an incredible species that has summited world’s highest mountain, developed vaccines and created the internet, but we must also consider many other species in nature as very strong contenders in the race to the top!

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