My son and I had a rather unpleasant confrontation with the inhabitants of a wasps nest yesterday, who must have decided we were trespassing on their territory. In the ensuing battle my nine-year old son received ten stings and I got just two. The event got me wondering how the wasp may have “evolved” its own stinger, had it not been created. Here are one or two little “Just So” possibilities.
THE TALE OF WILLY WASP
Willy wasp was wandering along through the ancient forest one day, minding his own business, and singing a song with wonderful words beginning with ‘w’ which he’d heard one week while watching Bert on ‘Sesame Street’. He skipped and fluttered gaily along his merry way, when suddenly ‘SNAP!’- he was eaten by a Lizow. A Lizow, as you probably already know, is a creature which is not quite a lizard and not quite a crow.
“Blimey!” said Willy wasp, as he started to slide down the Lizow’s throat. “If only I had a stinger, I could sting this beast, and he’d have to spit me out!”
Willy resolved to start working on evolving a stinger right away. There was only one problem…
THE TALE OF WITCHARD WASP
Wayne wasp watched in wonder while his wife Wanda wasp wiggled and writhed, until out popped little Wichard, their first baby wasp, wet and wailing. Wayne’s joy turned to astonishment when he noticed a strange appendage on little Witchard’s bottom. It was a spike – a long thin pointed object actually growing out of the babe’s bottom. “Nature be praised!” said Wayne, he’s got a stinger, complete with connective tissue, nerves and blood supply!”
It wasn’t long before little Witchard had his first opportunity to use his stinger.
“SNAP”- little Witchard disappeared inside the Lizow’s mouth. Sliding down the Lizow’s throat, Witchard put his weapon into operation, and poked at the beast’s throat with his pointed bottom, but it wasn’t enough to put the Lizow off his snack. “Caw!” said the Lizow to himself, this one’s a bit tickly in my throat! I wonder if he’s poking me with his newly evolved stinger? It’s a good thing he didn’t evolve venom too!”
Unperturbed by their loss, Wayne and Wanda gave birth again. As little Wendle popped out, Wayne’s joy was tinged with disappointment when he noticed that little Wendle didn’t have a stinger. “Woe to us and all wasps, Wanda”, he whined, “our DNA wasn’t altered to give our offspring stingers, it was just a miraculous and totally unique mutation event that gave poor little Witchard his stinger”. Wendle was soon gobbled up by the Lizow.
Heartbroken, Wayne and Wanda wasp decided to continue their family, and Wanda was soon reproducing.
As Wanda was giving birth, Wayne could see that another of those unique mutation events had occurred, for there, on little Walter’s face like a huge nose, was a stinger! Wayne’s joy quickly turned to panic when the brevity of the situation hit him. “Oh no Wanda!” He cried, Little Walter won’t be able to see where he’s going!
Sure enough, it was not long before Walter wandered unwittingly into the very glade where the Lizow was looking for his lunch. As the Lizow loomed leeringly towards our waspling, Walter saw a large shadow moving rapidly in his direction. Fearing the worst, Walter prepared himself for battle. But there was a problem: not onlycould little Walter barely see what was going on, but his stinger was not connected to his nervous system-it was not operational. The Lizow, with his raven-sharp eyes, spied the unsavory looking appendage on little Walter’s face, and decided to just take his body and let the head fall to the ground. “SNAP…bonk”.
THE TALE OF WASPVILLE
The Mayor of Waspville was animated and passionate.
“This must not go on!” he shouted to the crowd of wasps who had gathered at the annual meeting of Waspville’s citizens, buzzing with anger.
“Wallace, Wilson, Wes and Juan were all eaten up yesterday by the dreaded Lizow! Our numbers are decimated! If we don’t act now Waspville will be wiped out within a week!”
That very day, concerned and fearful citizens put their anger into action. Sitting in circles they began chanting and praying to Mother Nature to give them stingers. “Not only do we need stingers with venom” they entreated, “but we need loud, stripey uniforms to warn lizow not to eat us in the first place!”
One million years later, Little Waylon yawned in boredom and looked around at the circle of wasps around him, all chanting and praising Mother Nature for finally causing some of their babes to be born with stingers, fully operational and loaded with venom, and bright scarey looking suits also. Waylon always had been a bit of a rebel who liked to stir up trouble, and today was no exception. Loudly enough for everyone else to hear, he turned to his mother next to him and said “Mom, if wasps need stingers and sripey suits to survive, how did we manage to survive for a million years without them?”
Copyright August 11th, 2012 by Nick Fisher