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Bruce Chatwin - On Elisabeth Vrba



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Bruce Chatwin – Songlines

All species must ‘jump’ eventually, but some jump more readily than others.  Elizabeth Vrba showed me graphs on which she had plotted the lineage of two sister clades of antelopes, the Alcephaline and the Aepycerotini both of which shared a common ancestor in the Miocene.

The Alcephalim, the family to which the wildebeests and hartebeest belong have specialised teeth and stomachs for feeding in arid conditions, and have thrown up about forty species over the past six and a half million years.  The impala, a member of the Aepycerotine, being a generalist with a capacity to thrive in a variety of climates has remained the same to this day.

‘Evolutionary change’ she said ‘was once hailed as the hallmark of success.  We now know better, the successful are the ones that last’

The source of the experience

Vrba, Dr Elisabeth

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps