Tag Archives: evolution

What’s the Deal with Black Squirrels?


The noble squirrel contemplates the unknown, eyes fixed on eternity

My friends often describe squirrels, to my great indignation, as “rats with prettier tails.” I will spare you my feelings on this—suffice it to say that, obviously, the trash-scavenging conditions of squirrels in urban areas has more to do with human encroachment on their habitat than any fault of their own (also, I really love rats)—but here in Middletown we have some squirrel variation that invites greater appreciation. Of course I’m referring here to the beautiful jet-black squirrels that frolic and scavenge about the Wesleyan campus.

Infection Control FAQ & Darwinism

So in my inbox today was an email with a link here, a link to an infection control FAQ. I’m all for hand sanitizing, and stations everywhere, but here’s an interesting quote from the FAQ:

Can alcohol-based products lead to antimicrobial resistance?

Resistance occurs when certain types of products are used excessively, and is more commonly associated with the over-prescription of antibiotics than hand cleaning. Ethanol, the active ingredient in Purell®, kills cells quickly and then evaporates. Since bacteria generally require prolonged exposure to an agent in order adapt and become resistant, the rapid killing effect and evaporation of ethanol means there is less chance for resistance to occur. Furthermore, even if microorganisms could become more tolerant of alcohols, this would not affect their susceptibility to antibiotics like penicillin.

Although Bacteria can adapt in their lifespans (like turning on a ?-Galactosidase gene for making a lactose enzyme), I highly doubt they could adapt to varying concentrations of ethanol. Bacteria develop resistance through genetic change, aka natural selection. It doesn’t matter how quickly the bacteria are exposed to ethanol. It just matters that the strong survive and reproduce.

Also from the FAQ (this is a serious topic, but ridiculous video)