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Most mammals are not nocturnal. Many prefer the light of day. How often have you seen an alligator or turtle sunning in the afternoon sun. So when elephants, antelopes and other other mammals start taking midnight jaunts, what are we suppose to think?

Recent Trend

According to one biological report that appeared in The Atlantic, researchers using motion-detecting cameras started capturing a new trend.

They found certain animals that primarily traveled by day were taking to the forests, prairies and desert by night. Additionally, this nocturnal shift was widespread geographically. Tigers in Nepal and Boars in Poland were moving about more often by moonlight than ever before.

Human-induced Evolution

The research showed evidence of nocturnal shifts in dozens of species that use to come into regular contact with humans on most of the continents. Kaitlyn Gaynor, the head research scientist of this one group suspected that these shifts were behavioral changes effecting a evolutionary change as well.

The study is backing up theories labeled “human-induced evolution.” This line of study started over 20 years ago, when the marine ecologist Stephen R. Palumbi, writing in the journal Science said that humans “may be the world’s dominant evolutionary force.”

If you think about it, humans have been purposely manipulating animals to bring out preferable traits for ages [dog inter-breeding is a primary example, e.g. Labradoodle)

Chris Darimont, a conservation scientist at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, points to similar research known as “selective killing." For instance, fishermen who keep all the big salmon and let the little ones slip through the nets provide smaller salmon a survival advantage, decreasing the species’ overall size over time.

Nocturnal Shifts affecting man's evolution?

So changes in one species will most likely give rise to changes in others. Red brocket deer in Argentina have learned to avoid hunters by foraging at night, reducing competition with a related deer species.

This research points to California coyotes who have taken to night raids. They’ve begun preying more on nocturnal rodents they used to eat less of. And some nocturnal prey species, Gaynor and her colleagues have written, will likely become more active in the daytime, using humans as “temporal shields” against predators.

The most prominent example of this shift dates way back. For some 180 million years, the mighty tyrannosaurs ruled the Earth, while pterodactyls were the king of the skies. When they went extinct, mammals slowly reclaimed the day—until one species of ape attained global dominance, scaring other mammals back into the night . . . even making day-time human predators evolve into night hunters. Sort of sounds like  . . . the turn of the screw, doesn't it?

Primary Source: The Atlantic