Is fear powerful enough to literally wipe out an entire species from the face of the Earth? According to scientists at Canada’s McGill University that when it comes to flight or fight in a species, a third category should probably be added called, simply ‘terminate’ your species, reported McGill University. A new study reveals conclusions that point in that direction.
When it comes to the hundreds of thousands of species that have populated the earth since its creation one can only imagine if fear had a hand in eliminating many of the ancient species. A recent research study zeroes in on how the immense power of fear can actually trigger an extinction level reaction among a group of fruit flies that reduced their eating levels and reproduction.
The fruit flies in the study were exposed to a certain pheromone that is produced by praying mantises which are predators of the fruit flies. The research showed that the smell from the pheromones was so intense that it inspired fear amongst the fruit flies. This resulted in the fruit flies becoming more cautious as well as eating less and reproduction was diminished.
This can represent a significant finding in how certain types of species decreased to the point of extinction. The researchers believed that fear has a formidable impact on how groups react to perceived danger. The postulate that “fear of predators could also increase vigilance and reduce time spent foraging as population size decreases, as has been observed in wild mammals living in social groups,” according to the Royal Society Publishing Journal.
By introducing the fear factor into the controlled group of fruit flies, the scientists found that . fear tended to destabilize population dynamics and increase the risk of extinction up to sevenfold. The findings also determined that the predators does not have to be physically present in order to substantially to greatly influence its health and abundance.
The bottom line is that based upon the findings of the McGill University study, a species can literally become frightened into extinction.