Parasitic wasps: extreme sibling rivalry?

Carl Zimmer describes some research about parasitic wasps. The mother wasp lays an egg in a fellow arthropod. The young hatch and spend their childhood eating the victim alive, then pupate within its skin and emerge as full-grown wasps.

But there’s more to parasitic wasps than just blind cruelty. There’s also a n evolutionary puzzle. When the wasp is Copidosoma floridanum, a common North American wasp, the victim is a cabbage moth. The wasp lays its egg in the egg of a cabbage moth (picture here).

The caterpillar is doomed in the egg. The wasp egg grows into a cluster of eggs. Some of them grow into wasps. But others become “soldiers” that eat wasp larvae. What’s going on? Carl Zimmer will tell you.

A benevolent God wouldn’t allow this. A God that centred Creation around humans wouldn’t bother with it. However, we can predict that a process that uses all available resources will have its cruel efficiencies. If there’s something to be eaten, something will eat it. If there’s something to be stolen, something will steal it. That seems to fit the facts here.

More on H. floresiensis’ prmitive wrist

Here’s a link to a discussion of the paper that compares the wrist bones of Homo floresiensis with those of modern humans, H. habilis, H. sapiens neandertalis, and three great apes. You can see diagrams of the bones. And one of the authors drops into the comments.

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