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The Stubborn Cockroach That Did Not Change

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Evolution is change.

The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is a common visitor to our house. This visitor is very difficult to keep away and comes uninvited like the guest in the film “Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge”. One day, as I was seated on my toilet doing my morning ritual, I spotted one that was upside down. I wondered what had brought upon such an unfortunate position. And I pondered about something.

Why couldn’t the cockroach turn itself to the right position?

I could see it struggle and wiggle and beat its legs about as if it were asking someone to lend a hand. I felt bad.

Most of the time, cockroaches flip over because they ingest neurotoxins such as ivermectin [1,2] in insecticides that mess with their muscle coordination and cause spasms. They start kicking and a wrong kick flips them over. Once they are, they cannot turn themselves right. [3,4]

But, there is another side to this story. One, of evolution.