Cautionary Fables for Darwin’s Birthday

by Mike Bendzela

ScreenHunter_2964 Feb. 12 16.19Tribes

In the great class of mammalian vertebrates, antagonism arose between the egg-laying monotremes and the marsupials. Neither side could see the other on its own terms, each insisting it was the True Mammal.

An opossum (Didelphis) complained, “The platypus is a shameful pretender! It won’t admit that it is a failed duck, a builder of nests and hatcher of puggles, unable to fly!”

For its part, the platypus (Ornithorhynchus) sought revenge on the marsupials by sowing doubt about their child-rearing abilities: “We’ve seen the opossum abandon its newborn babies at birth! The poor things are doomed to forage for a nipple and live in a pocket!”

Moral: Steady misrepresentation is the chief hazard of tribal membership.

Monitor Lizard versus Cobra

Some monitor lizards (Varanus) that were opposed to the increasing presence of cobras (Ophiophagus) in their midst, held a public meeting to air their concerns. One outspoken lizard said to those gathered, “Fellow Lizards! The cobras intend to surround us, defeat us, and take our land. But they won’t stop there; we all know how snakes are. If we don’t do something quickly, they will swallow all our young!” Inflamed by this speech, the lizards quickly mobilized. They sought out the snakes, surrounded them, and defeated them. But for reasons no one has been able to fathom, the triumphant lizards then devoured every snake egg they could find.

Moral: The most depraved acts may be committed in the name of preventing depravity.

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