Photo courtesy of yourgenome.org
Out of all of the organisms on the face of this earth, I feel that drosophila melanogaster
is without question the one that is most significant; research derived from this species has essentially proven to be the entire basis for all biological thought in the present day. It is very difficult to conceive where biology would be in this present day without the workings of Thomas Hunt Morgan for which he revealed crystal clearly the role that chromosomes play in heredity.
Where would we be in the present without this organism’s contributions to the scientific world? There is no doubt that at some point somebody would have elucidated precisely the chromosome’s role and all of the other things demonstrated in the model species drosophila, but there is no telling the amount of time this would have taken to occur. And at the present would we be anywhere near the point in time, on the verge of being able to have technology at a reasonable price readily able to determine entire personal human genomes? The extinction of drosophila, if theoretically it had occurred could have set us back decades in this entire progression. There is absolutely no telling what new technology will come out in our lifetime, virtue of the drosophila falling into the right hands when it did.
Furthermore, what species could be more representative of the state of Oklahoma and moreover the entire Midwest? The drosophila is an organism not in the least bit flashy nor glamorous. In its beginnings it was in large part neglected by the scientific elite, as it didn’t contain crazy coloration schemes, or any parts of its body plan of specific interest. Nor was it located in a particular research hotbed, a tropical rainforest. But, this absolutely plain organism has abilities that few others do, and that is the ability to produce, produce, and produce some more. Until the scientists are almost tired of it producing, tens of thousands of published works later and there is still one that comes out every so often.
The drosophila, in its embodiment of all of the above characteristics is a species that to no further avail must be included in the university’s collection of statues. Sure, the organism has not won the university any national championships. But, by virtue of its research use might just make the victory of a whole variety of things, cancer, genetic defects etc. happen in our lifetime. And that is a true champion.