Natural selection

notforsale

Sweden has been in the news lately ever since a local politician, Hans Nilsson, filmed a rare white bull moose taking a dip in a stream and walking in some grass, National Geographics reports (http://tinyurl.com/piemoose). It took him three years of trying to finally get the footage, but no time at all for video to go viral. A screen shot is shown.

Even though he is pure white, the moose is not actually an albino, since he doesn’t have the pink eyes that go with albinism. His color is believed to be caused by the recessive gene that creates piebald coloring (white with specs of brown), instead.

Strangely enough, white moose twins were spotted in Norway at the end of June. One professor of elk and moose, Göran Ericsson, at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, says that although the condition is rare, news of a white moose seems to pop up every year, leading him to speculate that perhaps the number of white moose in Scandinavia is increasing.

“Hunters have chosen to not kill any moose that are light,” he told National Geographics, thereby protecting the white moose. Natural selection would then work to make the trait more common. “It is kind of like dog breeding. (The hunters) choose to select for traits that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred.”

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.