Share science. Learn science. Do science.
When we think of the most adaptable species, what comes to mind? Camels are able to survive without food or water for months, cockroaches are said to have survived the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, and Emperor Penguins are able to make journeys 60+ miles long with their last meal being four months earlier. All of these species are very well suited towards their particular environment, but if one were to put a camel in Antarctica, or an emperor penguin in the Gobi Desert, they would not survive for very long. Adaptability is defined as the ability to adjust oneself readily to different conditions, so while these previously listed species may be able to survive in extreme conditions, they are poorly suited for other environments.
Humans are the most adaptable species on earth which is largely due to our higher intelligence over all other animals. We have reached a point of Supra-Darwinian evolution where ordinary Darwinian evolution has stopped because of our progression of advanced technology and medicine. There is no natural selection or incentive for the human race to continue with Darwinian evolution because technology has made everything easier for us. We don’t have to worry about hunting or gathering because we have grocery stores, and we don’t have to die from otherwise deadly diseases like the flu because we have ways to vaccinate or cure them.
Human’s intelligence has allowed us to live in any environment, which is why humans are one of the only species that can live in 7/7 continents. Given the right technology that we have or can build, humans can live anywhere on earth. We can live in both hot and cold conditions like because we engineered buildings with air conditioning. We have a very diverse diet that consists of many different foods depending on the environment we live in. We have gone to the top of Mt Everest, near the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean, and the moon because we have made the tools to get us there. Our strength and power compared to other animals such as the gorilla have increased due to weapons.
The only creature on earth that would come close to our adaptability would be the Tardigrade, also known as the water bear. These are very small animals (0.05 mm – 1.2 mm long) that can either produce sexually or asexually, and prey upon amoeba and even other Tardigrades. Tardigrades are able to survive insane environments from close to absolute zero, to pressure that is far greater than the deepest parts of the ocean. What the Tardigrades lack, though, is intelligence which allows humans to form complex social structures and relationships with each other. Social structures are seen in many other primates and species which help them to all hunt better and defend themselves. Humans could not have individually gotten to where we are today without the help from others. Just like the saying goes, team work makes the dream work!