Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Adaptability is a Key Ability


When we stumble upon the word adaptability, many of us are reminded of a famous quote "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent species. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.", isn't it?

Quite rightly so, as adaptability refers to the attribute of being able to adjust to new conditions & to reinvent oneself.

Keeping the theme of adaptability in background, let me ask you a question - What are Locusts?
I can hear you calling out, "Locust is an insect, which migrates in vast swarms, causing extensive damage to vegetation." & I hope you could hear me saying "Correct"!

By now, many of you might be thinking, what's so special in this seemingly irrelevant question & what is the connection between locust & the theme of adaptability?

This is where, the narrative becomes very interesting.....

Boris Uvarov, a Russian entomologist, during his early researches, made a strange observation - In one incipient locust swarm, he noticed swarming locusts and local grasshoppers were together. Also to his surprise, he noticed in this incipient swarm there were insects which seemed like an intermediate form of a grasshopper and a locust.

In the past, entomologists had always been mystified by the way locusts suddenly seemed to swarm out of nowhere & cause havoc on farmlands. Finally in the year 1921 Boris Uvarov, had the insight and he was able to connect the dots, with the observations he had made long time ago.

Locusts and grasshoppers were same species, but under stressed conditions of drought and diminishing food, grasshoppers laid eggs that hatched into locusts.


Let me ask you the question once again - What are Locusts?
I can hear you calling out a different answer this time, "Locust is a phase in grasshoppers life and during this phase, they behave very differently." You are right!

Under stressed conditions (droughts, scarcity of food), grasshoppers exhibits adaptability by laying a kind of eggs which hatches into locusts. Locusts have the ability to swarm and to fly far off in search of food. Thereby, they survive through drought seasons, by adapting themselves to the changed environment. When conditions become favourable (abundance of food), future generations would revert to being solitary grasshoppers.

I was amazed, when I read about the story of Locusts and Grasshoppers. How species adapts themselves with nature & how adaptation helps them to survive, is simply mind boggling!

The Locust story, also offers us lessons for life - to be adaptable and to be agile. The time we live in, is dynamic, constantly changing & is in a state of flux. Such times, calls for a special ability to survive. So let's be adaptable, after all Adaptability is a Key Ability, isn't it?
I can hear you calling out, "Yes" :-)


  1. excellent! very relevant topic, the example chosen is ideal. Nature provides many such instances of adaptability. One such example is the Komodo Dragons, at time of need, the female komodo dragon can reproduce without mating with a male (parthenogenesis--or a virgin conception).
    How many more such examples can the readers think off?

    1. Ironic for this post, but i guess 'Herd-mentality' or staying in groups too is an adaptation for survival (example penguins, flocks of birds flying together, or other grazing herbivores)

    2. Very well said Abhi. Adaptibility is not just to survive but to live happily. In a changing world it is required to be open to adapt to something unexpected, as our life is dynamic, full of surprises and changes.

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  3. Good one. Adaptability is indeed a key to survival. Perhaps thats the reason why cockroaches survived while dinosaurs died!!

    It is evident from the animal kingdom, that species constantly adapt themselves to survive/flourish under any given environment. Be it a classical case of Darwins finches or the butterflies during the industrial revolution. Probably that is the reason humans are 'successful', since they are able to adapt to almost all kids of environment on the surface of the earth, be it by their community skills or by 'jugad'.

    The same is evident in organisations too. Kodak failed to adapt quickly to the 'digital' photography. Nokia, Blackberry are perhaps other examples.

    And if its true for animals and organisations, it is true for individuals too...

  4. Very relevant subject for kids... thanks for sharing

  5. I second your thoughts Abhi....well chosen, explained and laid out....thanks

  6. Very well written Abhishek! This is the most important aspect of today’s fast changing world. I think there are many such examples in nature which talk about adaptability, one of them is birds migrating from one place to another. I think the nature has been thriving for more than three billion years, because of adaptability. In short we all should remember ‘Change is the only constant thing in the world’.
    Once again Abhishek keep it up!!

  7. Very well-articulated. Change is the only constant in life.
    People should accept changes and shape up their career and life. People or companies who don’t change have become history or lost in long run. What you have said makes more sense at this time for us. Let’s not fear change. Accept it positively.
    Thanks Abhi. All The Best.

  8. Very nice Abhishek, really thoughtful. Adaptabiity is must for happy n healthy life.