Feature Article - April 2007
by Do-While Jones

Darbo, the Flying Elephant

This is our annual special issue celebrating National Theory of Evolution Day (April 1), in which we give the theory of evolution all the respect that it deserves.

The circus had come to town. Everyone was happy, except for Mrs. Elephant. She had been waiting a long time for her baby. But so far it had not arrived. Then one day the little elephant was born. His mother named him, “Darbo.” All the elephants came to admire him.

Suddenly, the baby sneezed. AH-AH-CHOOOOO! And his ears flew up in the air. All the other elephants laughed when they saw how big his ears were.

The next day the circus paraded through town. The baby elephant was the smallest, so he was put at the end of the line. First he stepped on his right ear. Then he stepped on his left ear. And finally he fell flat on his face. Everybody laughed at him.

The ringmaster decided to make Darbo a clown. He put Darbo on the roof of a burning house. “Jump, Darbo, jump!” shouted clowns dressed as firemen. Even though the flames were not real, Darbo was afraid. But finally Darbo jumped. Everyone laughed to see an elephant jump into a net.

Poor little Darbo realized that because of sexual selection, he would never have a girlfriend. This made his selfish genes sad. His family line would end with Darbo. His selfish genes had to figure out a way to turn his mutant ears into a survival advantage.

The next day, Huxley, the circus mouse, found Darbo looking sad. “Don’t be unhappy,” he said. “I will be your friend. I will find a way to help you. Those big ears must be good for something! Maybe I can teach you how to fly with them!”

Jumping off the burning house had disproved the arboreal origin of flight. Therefore, flight must have evolved from the ground up.

Huxley took Darbo to the woods. There he made a runway out of a log and a board. “Just flap your ears hard and jump off,” he shouted. Darbo flapped his ears hard and jumped. He fell flat on the ground.

Even though Huxley’s brain was much smaller than Darbo’s, Huxley was smarter. He knew that all Darbo needed to fly was feathers! Huxley gave Darbo a crow’s feather to hold. Darbo flapped his ears hard and jumped. He fell flat on the ground.

Then Huxley realized what the problem really was. Darbo was a vegetarian. He ate peanuts. Darbo needs a higher calorie diet! All he needs to do is to eat bugs and worms. That will give him the strength he needs to fly.

Darbo didn’t like eating the bugs and worms, but he did it anyway. Then Darbo flapped his ears hard and jumped. He fell flat on the ground.

Evolving into a bird was much harder than Darbo and Huxley thought it would be. Apparently it takes more than feathers and eating bugs to become a bird. Huxley finally realized that Darbo would need hollow bones, more efficient lungs, higher metabolism, different muscular structure, better balance, and a migratory instinct to become a real bird. He couldn’t do all that! There must be some other way.

Then Huxley had a great idea. All he had to do to turn Darbo into a bird was to get a scientist to say he was a bird! That’s how dinosaurs became birds. Scientists just reclassified them.

Darbo and Huxley hurried to the nearest university and found a scientist. He examined Darbo carefully and agreed that Darbo had been incorrectly classified. The scientist wrote a paper and published it in the journal Science saying that, based on Darbo’s ears and teeth, Darbo was the first whale.

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