A while back, a friend and I postulated that, given the current trend in the world to "Save the ..." (insert popular species here), the prime survival factor for most animals is rapidly becoming how interesting that animal can make itself to human beings.
Its generally easier to raise funds to save cute animals like dolphins or koala bears than it is to save dung beetles or endangered species of mold. The prime evolutionary driver is becoming an animal's entertainment value.
What will this do given another half dozen centuries or so to play out? Will species begin to exhibit larger, more prominent eyeballs and longer eyelashes to increase their appeal to people? Will species become increasingly neotenized to trigger human female nurturing instincts as a defense mechanism? Will we be able to go for walks in the woods and be spontaneously entertained by juggling bears and dancing monkeys and parrots with elaborate stand up routines? Will dolphins and leopards learn to hold up their own "Save the dolphins" (or leopards) signs? Will critters learn to instinctively put on their own rallies and protests? Will horses evolve into unicorns because people like unicorns more? Will hyenas and other un-cute animals, perhaps compete for the underdog niche by developing Goth markings and punk hairdos? Will the natural world become one hilariously entertaining and human-o-centric theme park?
At the time, Paul and I thought it was an absolutely hystercial bit of imaginative silliness, (but of course only silliness), made all the more funny because, the more we joked about it, the more we couldn't find any logical reasons why it couldn't happen. We knew it was absurd anyway, naturally, even if we couldn't explain why.
Then I saw this video, and I have to wonder...