Evolution and Super Goblins

Everyday Einstein provides an introduction to evolution. Plus, the answer to the age-old question: How could evolution have saved goblins from extinction?

Lee Falin, PhD
4-minute read
Episode #17

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Now for a few caveats and points of clarification. This story makes the assumption that the hairy-goblin trait is dominant (meaning that as long as you have one copy of the gene from either parent, you'll still be a hairy goblin) and is not sex-linked (meaning that both male and female goblins can pass that gene along and experience its effects). Not all genetic traits behave this way.

This particular trait also provided a beneficial effect to the goblins, namely giving them a stronger chance of surviving through the winter. Many genetic mutations have either no beneficial effect or a negative effect on survival. Mutations that provide a stronger chance of survival in a given environment tend to stick around. This is a concept called "selective pressure."


So what would it take for humans to mutate into superheroes? First there would have to be a genetic mutation granting them superpowers. Second, those super powers would have to give them some kind of competitive edge over their non-super friends in the areas of survival and reproduction. Which means you’ll probably want a mutation that helps you look more like superman and less like a hairy goblin.

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Gulrock the Goblin, Second Gulrock and Baby Goblin images from Shutterstock


About the Author

Lee Falin, PhD

Dr. Lee Falin earned a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, then went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology from Virginia Tech. 

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