The Monograph

Calvin & Amar

The Monograph -SampleWhat do you want to be when you grow up?
By Amar El-Khatib 1T3

B

What

do you want to be when you grow

up? As children, we’ve all been asked that question tons of times, and chances are, if you’re anything like me, you had just as many answers. Before writing this piece, I sat down and tried to think of some of the different careers that I considered, and the reasoning behind each career consideration. For your entertainment, here are four careers that I considered as a child before choosing pharmacy: Baby – I was 6 years old when I decided that I wanted to make career out of being a baby, yes a baby! This might be perplexing to some, as this isn’t even career but a developmental stage. I have no way to ex-

plain it. All I can say is and what other people thought of me did that I was one weird not matter. Even though my career choice kid. may have been ridiculous at the time, looking back, I think that it signifies a Scientist –There was point of maturation in my life where I was some progress, as my able to back up my decisions with sound next career choice in- philosophical arguments (or not so sound volved an actual career, arguments) a “Scientist”. Now I know what you’re think- Astronomer – This is a career consideraing, a Scientist is highly tion based on a romanticized notion of non-specific, it can be Astronomy. I had another one of those practically anything. generic children’s encyclopedias titled That might be true, but “Space”. The book gave a general deas a 7 year old, I loved scription of all 9 planets (now 8), the sun, reading children’s encyclopedias, one’s and space phenomena like supernovas. with titles like “Birds” or “Insects” or There were plenty of artist renditions to “Volcanoes”. I also knew that I liked find- go along with the text, and those pictures ing out how stuff worked, and the best are what captured my imagination. I used way for me to express that was to say to read the text then stare at the picture for minutes, wandering what it would be that I wanted to be a scientist. like to watch a supernova in real life. Garbage Collector – According to my parents, this is the point where I took After looking back at some of the quirky two steps backwards. A garbage man careers that I had considered, I realized may have seemed like a lowly job to that they are more than childhood fantathem, but I had a great philosophical sies. These career choices were born out argument behind this choice. I liked to of a passion for science, reading and argue that happiness is the most impor- general curiosity about how the world tant thing in life, and the best way for me worked. I urge everyone to do the same, to defend that argument, was to tell peo- think about your childhood career ple that I want to be a garbage man be- choices and how they relate to your curcause collecting trash made me happy, rent profession.

Rants, Raves and Confessions
Last night, I was walking on one end of the sidewalk when this lady from the end of the same sidewalk ran towards me while yelling "This is what you get for getting in my way", needless to say, I ran like a little girl. Calvin, 1T3 Why is the washroom on the second floor hidden in room 201 next to the computers, just a thought. Calvin, 1T3 Before I go to bed every night, I convince myself that I have to wake up early and make it to class on time because it is too important to miss. The next morning, I wake up wearily and convince myself that today’s class isn’t really important. I then go back to bed. Amar, 1T3 I once took a 20 minute detour to avoid running into my 5th grade teacher in my neighborhood.

Calvin, 1T3
if you have any rants, raves or confessions you’d like to share, please send them to sam-

By Amar El-Khatib 1T3

Elephants

are fantastic animals with a

host of defining features that are the product of millions of years of evolution. All three extant species of elephants are known for their gigantic size, floppy ears and gentle nature, but what sets them apart from almost all other species is their long, prehensile trunk. Formed by the amalgamation of the upper lip and nose through millions of years of selection, the trunk is now used by its bearer for a multitude of tasks ranging from the mundane to the extraordinary. For example, elephants use their trunk to pick leaves from tree branches, as well as detect and track scents left behind by other animals; both tasks induce a selective pressure that favors longer trunks, yet, there are subtle differences between the trunks of the three extant species of elephants. The evolutionary history of the trunk can be traced back to the elephant’s early ancestors from the order known as proboscidea. Fossil evidence of early proboscideans shows that there was a gradual increase in body size that began around fifty millions years, a trend predicted by Cope’s Law. Selection favored those that can reach higher leaves, which meant that larger individuals had higher fitness. However, larger individuals also had larger heads that were heavier and further off the ground, this meant that their heads were constantly drooping and they had to invest more energy in lifting their heads to reach higher leaves. In other words, there was a trade-off between body size and head weight, where an increase in body size increased fitness, but an increase in head weight decreased fitness. In addition, there is a strong positive correlation between head size and head weight. Natural selection provided a novel solution to this problem: elephants with smaller jaws

yet equally large heads that had longer lips and snout to compensate for their smaller size mandibles were favored. The elongated lips and snout were highly maneuverable, and were increasingly used as probes that reached high tree branches. Moreover, there was a selective pressure that acted in utero, favoring the fusion of the upper lip with the snout. Fossil records show that the trunk size of proboscidean ancestors that lived seven million years ago is comparable in size to modern day elephants. There are several other selective pressures that favor longer trunks. Elephants use their trunk to detect hormones left by potential mates and those with a better chance of detecting these hormones have higher mating success. However, these chemical signals are not conveniently placed for elephants to detect; instead, chemical messages are usually airborne, requiring an elephant to probe the air around it to detect a signal. Hence, elephants with longer trunks can probe larger areas w i t h more e a s e a n d have a better chance of mating. T h e order of proboscidea c o n tains a

single family that splits into three species, two African elephants and an Asian elephant. The geographic separation of the Asian and African elephants eventually resulted in allopatric speciation. African and Asian elephants have diverged long enough that they can be discerned by the tips of their trunk. An Asian elephant has one projection on the tip of its trunk that can be curled around objects to improved grappling. An African elephant, on the other hand, has two projections that are used to grip objects by pinching them. Even though the trunks of African and Asian elephants are homologous, each elephant has adapted to its own environment and their trunks perform similar functions using slightly different techniques. Through the examination of early proboscidean fossil records, scientists were able to make simple predictions on how the elephant’s trunk evolved and continues to evolve by means of natural selection.

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