You Can’t Go Wrong With Nature: Be Lean and Agile to Survive

From the plane to the sonar system, humanity has made many amazing inventions in various fields. However, many of our inventions are not unique but only replicas of some specific behavior patterns or distinct physical attributes of animals and plants in the nature. Birds were flying through the air a few hundred of million years before the Wright Brothers. Bats, likewise, had already been using their own sonar technology long before we invented it. Therefore, having been frequently inspired by the flora and fauna we are surrounded by, we have figured out ingenious ways to solve problems we've been facing. So, what does make the nature a perfect influence resource for the best practices? It can be argued that the concept underlying is the continuous adaptation.

To begin with, it seems to me that natural selection as a mechanism of evolution is the longest lean process ever known. We are talking about an automated adaptation -which tends to polish the things that work and remove the things that don't- of more than three billion years. Comprehending the trend that runs through natural selection can be more effortless by illustrating it with an example.

The Curious Case of The Peppered Moth

The peppered moth is a species of night-flying moths. The evolution of these insects has been a subject of an elaborate study. Most of the peppered moth population had pale wing patterns which succesfully camouflaged them against lichens covered tree trunks and protected them from predators. Another form of peppered moths, dark moths, had melanic (dark) wing patterns, and they were less in number since they were more likely to be eaten by birds and other predators. However, as a result of extensive pollution related to Industrial Revolution in England, majority of the lichens died out, and the trees became blackened by soot. Consequently, light winged form of the moth became more obvious to predators, while dark moths were more effectively camouflaged. Surviving and producing offspring were more likely for this melanic form of the moth. Eventually, dark moths outnumbered light moths.

Most importantly, it all happened so fast; the whole natural selection process of the peppered moth took only two hundred years.

Young, Matt (2004), Moonshine: Why The Peppered Moth Remains an Icon of Evolution,

When looking closer at this impressive biological case, it is plain to see that some certain patterns are operating in the core of the process. The peppered moth descent, itself, is symbolizing a company or an organization. As the natural selection is enabling only "fittest" lineage to flourish and eliminating ones that are not adapting to the environmental uncertainty, the ultimate goal for the descent is to be able to survive through generations which is only possible by producing new moths with diverse genetic variations in a relatively short period of time. Just like rolling out new product versions to the market as frequently as possible to get feedbacks and adjust the products accordingly so as to minimize the waste and maximize the value.

Sharks as Masters of Disguise

Another striking evidence that supports the idea is about sharks. Majority of sharks are colored blue-ish or gray-ish on the dorsal side and white on the ventral side. This allows them to blend into the water and camouflage from multiple perspectives. Having said that, some bottom-dwelling sharks are evolved in order to blend into the ocean bed with their brown colored patterns. It is a result of neither a coincidence nor an elaborate plan. Ancestors of these creatures put a fierce fight to adapt and pass on their DNA to the next generation. We can imagine it as a gory feedback loop to inspect and adapt in an agile framework so that the descent can find the right combination to survive.

In addition, The Selfish Gene, a book by world-renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, also offers a valuable content which can be used in similar analogies. Although addressing it in this article requires a more technical examination which might distract the focus, I highly recommend the book as a good read.

In conclusion, it can be claimed that "adaptation" has always overridden "prediction" as a survival method in the nature. Even though human race has been challenging itself by making groundbreaking inventions for the last few centuries and discovering methods to utilize cumulative information for making bold predictions for the future -which separates humans from other organisms intellectually- , you can never go wrong with nature and beyond any doubt we still have so much to learn from it.


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