How did we get here? There are some strange things going on, when it comes to evolution: Viceroy butterflies protect themselves from predators by looking just like Monarchs (which are toxic to birds). Is this an accident or some kind of “intention?”

In New Scientist, Bob Holmes quotes evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel as saying, “I think the unexamined view that most people have of speciation is this gradual accumulation by natural selection of a whole lot of changes, until you get a group of individuals that can no longer mate with their old population.” Holmes says that Pagel feels that evolution “may have less to do with the guiding hand of natural selection and more to do with evolutionary accident-proneness.” In other words, sometimes dramatic shifts take place, but nobody really knows why. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t really happen.

One form of sudden species change has to do with asteroid impacts, which is why a group of international experts have outlined to the UN the needed steps and concerns in establishing a global detection and warning network to deal with possible Near Earth Object threats to Earth. They aren’t that rare: Satellites looking down at a deforested area in Central Africa have discovered what could be a huge impact crater, which could have wiped out all life in the area many years ago. It’s just another indication of why we need to keep track of incoming space rocks, so that we don’t disappear like the dinosaurs.

Despite the fact that it’s one of the largest such craters discovered in the last 10 years, researcher Giovanni Monegato says it could only be seen because the trees were cleared from the area.

While he plans to do some field research in the area, In BBC News, Paul Rincon quotes Monegato as saying, “I am quite optimistic about an impact crater origin for this ring.”

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