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Punchinello writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman.

Punchinello, here again, with a new sort of ramble. I intend to pose this to you in the hopes that it will elicit comment from you, even though it is not a proper question.

I was thinking, recently, about darwinian evolution and the phenomenon of infanticide. A few popular authors like Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker have made the idea that infanticide functions towards a selective advantage in the evolution of many species somewhat popular in the last couple of years. It can be observed among lions, killing the offspring of male rivals. In this way, nature can ensure that the lion is not investing his energy in protection of young that will not advance his genetic lineage. At the same time, I had been thinking of some of the more unusual features of your gargoyles. In particular, the extrordinarily robust array of physical forms. Polymorphisms within their species are more exaggerated than any species possesses in real life, to the point where we can observe within the same species, the variety of forms represented by the trio, as well as Zafiro, Una, etc. I had been considering the idea that their diversity may be due to the possibility that they are not subject to the rules imposed by natural selection through predation. (At least among their own species. I imagine that they can still be preyed upon by other animals. I think you even demonstrated this, although the animals capable of doing them harm are almost certainly few.)

It would seem that this idea finds conjunction with other aspects of the nature of the gargoyles. They raise their young collectively, and do not even distinguish between their own offspring and the offspring of other gargoyles. This would seem to run in direct contradiction to the way natural selection, selects lineages for propagation. The strong gargoyles invest as much energy in raising the young of the weaker gargoyles as they do in raising their own young. This is interesting on several levels. First, it implicates the gargoyles as a species that are subject to their own branch of nature; something which exists, at least in part, outside of natural selection as we know it. It could also account for that remarkable polymorphism of theirs. It occurs to me that all other species look essentially like one another because certain genes have been selected to be passed down to succeeding generations. The parents that successfully raise their offspring. Among the gargoyles, you observe a different side of nature, wherein, the strong and the weak intermix, and have been passing down all of their selective adaptations and physical attributes since the origin of the species. There is not any competitive pressure within the species to selectively eliminate those features and regulate their form. As a result, you get this wild assortment of horns, tails, beaks, muzzles, etc.

It finds even further relevence, in the "protective" nature of the gargoyles. It would make sense that a species with an inclination to protect the weak would be subject to the alternate "rules of evolution" I am considering here. Contrary to conventional evolution, they are completely non-discriminatory. The gargoyles and gargate beasts seem to be integrated into a single community, and they both integrate themselves into the various communites of humans, forming a cooperative (hopefully) relationship. I wonder if other clans, such as the Guatemalan's, do not form cooperative relationships with other species due to their integration into the wilderness and proximity to wildlife.

Greg responds...

Wow, very cool ideas there. I agree whole-heartedly with your assessments.

And even the Guatemalan Gargs once lived in peace with their human Mayan "brothers". So they fit too if you look at the LONG haul.

Evolution has always fascinated me a bit. Look at the whale. The whale didn't evolve directly from a fish. Fish became amphibians which eventually became reptiles which eventually became mammals which eventually looked like lemurs or something, which eventually evolved into something that returned to the water and eventually evolved into a big old WHALE that resembles a fish more than it resembles us, though of course we're much closer genetically to a whale than either the whale or we are to a fish. Their are a lot of routes to any end.

Response recorded on July 26, 2000