Why don’t any animals have wheels? – Wheels are something we as humans have found immensely useful. Developed thousands of years ago they have evolved way beyond their humble beginnings of logs lined up together. So why has nature not allowed an animal with wheels to develop over the millions of years that animals have been on the planet?
Here are my thoughts republished from my original post on The Random Forest.
Why don’t any animals have wheels?
Animals have developed all sorts of amazing things through evolution (or intelligent design if that’s what you believe) and I think over many millions of years. There are all sorts of devices in nature very similar to what we have engineered to make our lives easier but as far as anyone can tell there are no animals that have wheels.
Wheels are something that on first thoughts may make an animals life much easier but I think it makes total sense that they don’t have wheels and here are some of my reasons.
Wheels work amazingly well on flat surfaces. In nature it’s hard to find flat terrain that also matches an animals habitat. It could potentially be quite limiting.
In order for animals with wheels to effectively climb uneven surfaces they would need propulsion Evolving legs to drag themselves isn’t practical and evolving an engine to drive the wheels isn’t that practical either. Legs in general work much better!
Wheels generally have separate parts. In order for an animal to produce separate moving parts it would have to grow the wheel from it’s axel and then have the join either die and drop off or be self detached. How would the animal move whilst this wheel developed? What if it broke, how would the body repair it?
So is it possible? If we know anything we know that of course it is. The colossal squid has hooks down it’s arms that rotate 360 degrees, the closet thing I can think of to a wheel in an animal. Then there is the bacterial flagellum which has been found to have a wheel like structure and propulsion. This works well on it’s tiny scale but wouldn’t translate very well to a larger animal.
So, there are my thoughts on this interesting subject. I would love to know what you think and if you have anything to add?