How Does Individual Adaption Contribute to Evolution?

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

CARS 105: How Does Individual Adaption Contribute to Evolution?

Session 105

Today we talk about assumptions and the connections we make as we tackle this MCAT CARS passage about adaptability and evolution. Join us!

As always, I’m joined by Jack Westin from JackWestin.com. Check out all their amazing free resources including a free trial session of Jack’s full course to see how it’s like learning from Jack Westin himself. Also, be sure to sign up for the daily sciences passages.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

Link to the article:

https://theconversation.com/chimpanzees-in-volatile-habitats-evolved-to-behave-more-flexibly-it-could-help-them-weather-climate-change-143125

One of the reasons humans are so resilient is our ability to mould our behaviour to ever changing situations. It wasn’t so long ago that many of us hugged when we met. In the middle of a pandemic, in which close contact between people can help spread a deadly virus, we now stand (often awkwardly) two meters apart. This is just one example of our ability to adapt to changing circumstances that can otherwise be harmful. This capacity to cope and respond flexibly to unpredictable changes in our environment has shaped our evolution.

In the past, radically shifting climates caused forests to expand and contract over time, and our early human ancestors had to cope with changes in the amount and types of food and shelter that were available. As forests gradually shrank a couple of million years ago, they were replaced by open habitats with fewer trees – mosaics of savanna and woodland. Early humans were able to adapt to these changes, allowing us to expand into new, less familiar habitats.

Ironically, humans are now driving more extreme climate changes than the planet has ever seen. Many animals may not be able to adapt, but the species which do succeed will rely on being able to change their behaviour to accommodate seasonal shifts in weather and food availability.

Chimpanzees, our evolutionary cousins, are distributed across Africa and inhabit landscapes that range from hot and dry to cool and wet. Some populations are prolific tool users, while others don’t use tools much at all. Some populations are generally fearful of water, while others bathe in pools during heat waves.

Much in the same way that some people use chopsticks while others use a fork or their hands, chimpanzees that live in similar habitats approach a task, like termite fishing, in different ways. They are capable of remarkable behavioural variability, and we think this might have allowed chimpanzees to range in harsher and drier habitats, and in environments that change radically between seasons, akin to our early human ancestors.

[03:56] Paragraph 1, Sentence 1

One of the reasons humans are so resilient is our ability to mould our behaviour to ever changing situations.

Jack says:

We’re starting off with an assumption here that the reason we’re resilient is we can mold our behavior to situations.

'The first sentence of the first paragraph is super important. You've got to make sure you know what's going on. The whole passage will probably be about this topic.'Click To Tweet

[04:27] Paragraph 1, Sentence 2

It wasn’t so long ago that many of us hugged when we met.

Jack says:

This article sounds like it’s about the pandemic because hugging is something we do culturally as a way to welcome people or say hello to people, but obviously, COVID has changed that.

[04:52] Paragraph 1, Sentence 3

In the middle of a pandemic, in which close contact between people can help spread a deadly virus, we now stand (often awkwardly) two meters apart.

Jack says:

They’re here bringing up this change, supporting the first sentence. We were resilient because we can change our behavior to ever-changing situations. So this is a changing situation.

The MCAT will do this every single time where they’ll present an argument and idea. This is a bold claim that we change our behaviors, given different situations. And they’ll exemplify it. They’ll illustrate it through this kind of scenario. Now, this scenario could be real-life or it could be hypothetical. The author chose to make a real-life example out of it. And it’s good to make that connection.

[05:48] Paragraph 1, Sentence 4

This is just one example of our ability to adapt to changing circumstances that can otherwise be harmful.

Jack says:

The author here is setting up one example. They’re making a strong assumption here that the environment changing is harmful. They never said that directly. But that’s something you are expected to know that it could be harmful.

“An assumption is basically something we don't say but we but must be true for whatever is being said to make sense.”Click To Tweet

An assumption a dependency. It’s is something we leave out because it’s so obvious but at least the author depends on this being important.

One way that the MCAT could challenge this argument of this idea that resilience in the face of situations is important, is by bringing up an answer that weakens this claim. So maybe it’s something that says, not all changing situations are harmful. That would weaken the passage because that would mean resilience isn’t that important in our lives. And why should we change if the environment is not harmful?

[08:03] Paragraph 1, Sentence 5

This capacity to cope and respond flexibly to unpredictable changes in our environment has shaped our evolution.

Jack says:

It’s just supporting this resilience and how it has shaped our evolution.

[08:29] Paragraph 2, Sentence 1

In the past, radically shifting climates caused forests to expand and contract over time, and our early human ancestors had to cope with changes in the amount and types of food and shelter that were available.

Jack says:

The author is presenting some more supporting documentation of climate change.

[08:53] Paragraph 2, Sentence 2

As forests gradually shrank a couple of million years ago, they were replaced by open habitats with fewer trees – mosaics of savanna and woodland.

Jack says:

The author is describing what those changes look like.

[09:05] Paragraph 2, Sentence 3

Early humans were able to adapt to these changes, allowing us to expand into new, less familiar habitats.

Jack says:

It’s just continuing to show resilience and what we have had to do with change.

[09:27] Paragraph 3, Sentence 1

Ironically, humans are now driving more extreme climate changes than the planet has ever seen.

Jack says:

The author here is taking a little bit of a stance on climate change and making some assumptions that humans are the driving force behind them at this point. It’s assuming that humans are harmful to the environment.

[09:53] Paragraph 3, Sentence 2

Many animals may not be able to adapt, but the species which do succeed will rely on being able to change their behaviour to accommodate seasonal shifts in weather and food availability.

Jack says:

The author is saying that some species may not survive, but those who do will have to adapt. It’s going back to the thesis of this passage at the very beginning that humans are adaptable, which is why we continue to survive.

Adapting to survive seems like the theme. In the first paragraph, they mentioned an example but they don’t explicitly tell you this is an example. They’ll expect you to assume or understand it to be an example. And that’s not because they’re trying to trick you, it’s just the style of the author. They expect you to keep up with them. And if you can’t keep up, that doesn’t mean you’re not good at this. It just means you need to work on it and work on reading different kinds of passages.

Look at different topics like different cultures. If you want to get assimilated into a culture, you have to experience that culture. You have to listen to that culture and understand them to some extent. So don’t be intimidated just because they don’t directly tell you that it’s not an example.

“Anyone can get used to the style of writing of a topic as long as you accept it, embrace it, and practice it.”Click To Tweet

[11:50] Paragraph 4, Sentence 1

Chimpanzees, our evolutionary cousins, are distributed across Africa and inhabit landscapes that range from hot and dry to cool and wet.

Jack says:

This is an example of another species that is pretty adaptable, because they’re giving a range of landscapes that the chimpanzee lives in. They haven’t said chimpanzees are adaptable. But we can assume they are because the author is suggesting they can go from hot and dry to cool, which means they adapt.

[12:30] Paragraph 4, Sentence 2

Some populations are prolific tool users, while others don’t use tools much at all.

Jack says:

The author is saying chimpanzees are different, just like how people are different.

[12:51] Paragraph 4, Sentence 3

Some populations are generally fearful of water, while others bathe in pools during heat waves.

Jack says:

The author is pointing out the differences.

[13:05] Paragraph 5, Sentence 1

Much in the same way that some people use chopsticks while others use a fork or their hands, chimpanzees that live in similar habitats approach a task, like termite fishing, in different ways.

Jack says:

It shows they can adapt differently or maybe not.

[13:56] Paragraph 5, Sentence 2

They are capable of remarkable behavioural variability, and we think this might have allowed chimpanzees to range in harsher and drier habitats, and in environments that change radically between seasons, akin to our early human ancestors.

Jack says:

The author says that having different behaviors is the reason we can adapt. It’s making that connection to how we have variable behaviors never. The author really never made that strong connection before. But now it’s obvious. The author is arguing how we are behaviorally different in the way that we can all do different things. 

It’s not that we all can do everything. But it’s that some of us can do some things and some of us can do other things. And one of the groups of that population will survive and the others won’t. But that variability is is the key to everything in this case.

Links:

Meded Media

Jack Westin

Link to the article:

https://theconversation.com/chimpanzees-in-volatile-habitats-evolved-to-behave-more-flexibly-it-could-help-them-weather-climate-change-143125

paperbackfront_245x245

DOWNLOAD FREE - Crush the MCAT with our MCAT Secrets eBook