You will have most likely heard the phrase "survival of the fittest" come up in conversation over the years. You also probably know that Charles Darwin is the person who shed light on the matter as part of his theory of evolution.
Now, a researcher from St. John's College at the University of Cambridge has finally proved for the very first time that Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest" is, in fact, true.
It turns out that mammal subspecies play a more significant role in evolution than was previously believed.
Animal species and subspecies
A species is a group of animals that's able to interbreed amongst themselves.
Some of these species have subspecies, which are groupings within a species that are different from each other, with different physical traits and that have their own breeding ranges.
It differs from species to species, for instance, humans have no subspecies, however, Northern giraffes have three, and red foxes have 45.
Lead author of the study, Laura van Holstein, a Ph.D. student in biological anthropology, proved Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest" and explained that "My research investigating the relationship between species and the variety of subspecies proves that subspecies play a critical role in long-term evolutionary dynamics and in future evolution of species."
Darwin's highly controversial work, as it goes against what the Bible recounts as creation, argues that organisms gradually evolve through a process called natural selection — otherwise known as "survival of the fittest."
To prove Darwin's theory correct, van Holstein looked at data from naturalists gathered over hundreds of years. Her research also proved that evolution occurs differently in land mammals, sea mammals, and bats, depending on their different habitats and their ability to roam freely.
She stated "Subspecies form, diversify and increase in number in a different way in non-terrestrial and terrestrial habitats, and this, in turn, affects how subspecies may eventually become species. For example, if a natural barrier like a mountain range gets in the way, it can separate animal groups and send them off on their own evolutionary journeys."
She continued "Flying and marine mammals – such as bats and dolphins – have fewer physical barriers in their environment."
Ultimately, the research proved that subspecies could be considered an early stage of the creation of a new species.
The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Wednesday.