Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Ball of Poop
The population of the city in which I reside is about 350,000. On the planet there are about 350,000 species of beetles. Not bugs. That's beetles alone. That's a lot of protein. I love bugs, of all kinds, but I truly adore beetles (not these ones, but they were good, too).
To paraphrase J.S. Haldane, the creator had an inordinate fondness for beetles. The neat thing about beetles is that they all have a purpose and are all adapted for their environment. They exist almost everywhere on the planet. Some are voracious predators, eating whatever is smaller then they are, others sip nectar from flowers. Some live their lives rolling a ball of poop, inviting a female to lay her eggs in it. Others break down organic matter so we have a cleaner environment in which to live. Some have huge, scary looking horns on their face to intimidate rivals and flip them over (kind of like wrestling on a small scale) and others are tiny little things that live in our flour and other grains that we unknowingly ingest. Some even exhibit parental care. Some are quite drab looking while others are spectacularly coloured.
350,000 species of one type of animal. It boggles my mind. There are only 3 living species of elephant, about 20 species of rabbit, 10 species of horse, and around 50 species of rat. Imagine 350,000 species of rat! Approximately one quarter of all living organisms are beetles.
Why? Why are there so many species of a little bug? They all have specialized jobs to do and many have more than one. Many seem to exist only to be food for something higher up in the chain, but that's a job, too (in a way).
They've been around for millions and millions of years. They will be around long after we are gone. These little creatures are one of nature's most successful evolution stories. But why? They have a purpose, whether it's breaking down decaying plant matter or as predators of pests.
So what does this have to do with MS? You knew there had to be a connection, admit it. Many people, when faced with a diagnosis of MS (or any trial for that matter) ask Why? The answer I've come up with is that there must be a purpose. Do I have MS because there weren't enough people with MS and a big mouth to do PR for it? Will my brain hold a clue as to how it develops? Will my ramblings and ideas reach the right ears and eyes to inspire a cure? Who knows?
I'll just keep rolling my little ball of poop like a dung beetle until something hatches from it.