Cautionary Fables for Darwin’s Birthday (2018)

by Mike Bendzela

ScreenHunter_2964 Feb. 12 16.19Tribes

Within the colossal class of mammalian vertebrates, antagonism arose between the egg-laying monotremes and the marsupials. Neither aspect might per chance come all the method thru the assorted on its have terms, each and each insisting it used to be the Aesthetic Mammal.

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

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

Merely: Steady misrepresentation is the executive hazard of tribal membership.

Show screen Lizard versus Cobra

Some video display lizards (Varanus) that comprise been adverse to the rising presence of cobras (Ophiophagus) in their midst, held a public meeting to air their concerns. One outspoken lizard talked about to those gathered, “Fellow Lizards! The cobras intend to surround us, defeat us, and steal our land. Nonetheless they gained’t live there; all of us understand how snakes are. If we don’t originate something quick, they’re going to swallow all our young!” Infected by this speech, the lizards quick mobilized. They sought out the snakes, surrounded them, and defeated them. Nonetheless for causes no person has been ready to fathom, the triumphant lizards then devoured every snake egg they might per chance likely procure.

Merely: The most depraved acts would be dedicated within the name of battling depravity.

To Be a Bat

The racy sciurid wished to be admitted to the show Chiroptera, “for the Aves correct state at me,” he talked about. This flying squirrel had staged loads of demonstrations for the assorted orders of birds; but the songbirds and the woodpeckers mobbed him and chased him off, while the falcons and owls tried to steal him. The sciurid bought away each and each time.

The bats might per chance come all the method thru his level. The sciurid used to be as furry, warmth-blooded, and winged as they comprise been. Sciurids shared likely the most bats’ dietary habits, fed at night, and nursed their young. Nonetheless the bats comprise been composed left scratching their heads. So, they supplied the sciurid a trial membership to procure how he would fare as a Chiropteran.

It used to be soon obvious the flying squirrel might per chance no longer manufacture as well to the bats. They would possess aloft for hours, and so that they cleverly located their prey thru sound quite than come all the method thru. The flying squirrel might per chance originate none of this. Nonetheless the sciurid did take into story how properly to abominate.

The barn by which the bats dwelt used to be troubled by a feral felid that snapped up any pups that fell from the rafters and even swatted adults correct out of the air. In a instruct for articulate, the flying squirrel swooped down on the cat to be martyred on behalf of the Chiropterans.

Merely: Community identity is a mindless fiction that robs us of autonomy.


The colossal albatross (Diomedea) preened herself in entrance of a penguin (Spheniscus) that bobbed in frigid waters approach the rock on which the colossal rooster stood. “She must feel gorgeous silly,” the albatross inferred upon seeing the penguin’s pitiful fin stumps. “Is she fish or beast? I don’t think even she knows.” The colossal rooster continued straightening its resplendent feathers.

Trusty then the penguin launched out of the water and with addled gait took up a stance on the rock no longer a long way from the assorted rooster, and she began preening in like formulation. Because the penguin drove its beak into the stubby feathers of its breast, and picked round below its forelimb, and shook its head quick , the albatross known, with fear, that those depressing fin stumps comprise been wings correct like her have; and, cantilevering her capacious wings over the fringe of the rock, the scandalized rooster took her preening in other locations.

Merely: Homology is the final humiliation for parents who think they are above nature’s dross.

A Pastoral Parable

On the barren slopes dwell the shepherds. These within the valleys below elevate swine.

The herders are seasonal: they hotfoot with the herds of sheep. From the hills, they can uncover about down on the swineherds below.

“How loathsome, the sedentary life, living deep within the clefts of the hills,” sniffs one shepherd to 1 other. “Their livestock dwell amongst their dwellings, shitting within the same method, day after day! That’s the definition of unclean.”

His companion adds, “Watch how even their formative years’s noses flip up at the conclude.”

Meanwhile, the swineherds espy the herders haunting the outskirts, like feral beasts. One swineherd remarks to 1 other, “You would also scent those shepherds coming a league away.”

“Yes,” rejoins the assorted, “and while you needed to haul your livestock round with you, in each obtain the obtain you scurry, day and night – even to sleep! – why, you’d stink, too.”

Merely: Familiarity is no guarantor of toleration.

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These fables are from the unpublished series, “Diversifications on the Metazoa: Evolutionary Fables and Other Emblematic Tales.” Mike Bendzela lives in Maine.

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