The Yoda are an Extreme K Species

 
Eric Spitznagel has recently asked me to provide my opinion on the mysterious Baby Yoda for an article in Popular Mechanics. The really cool piece was published today,  but obviously Eric had to remove some bits for brevity, since he was trying to get the opinion of many different scientists. You should really read the piece, it’s hilarious and informative at the same time.  Anyhow, below if my full take on Baby Yoda, and what we can learn about the Yoda species from it.
 
Let’s look at Baby Yoda from an evolutionary point of view. I think we can agree that natural (or artificial) selection is the only universal commonality of life in our galaxy, and in the other one long ago, far far away. Regardless of biochemistry, physiology, smell inside-or-out, the ability to force-choke, force-lightning and raise X-wing fighters, evolution is a common factor. 
 

 
One thing we know about Baby Yoda (BY) is that it is strong with the force, like other two known members of its species (Yoda and Yaddle). What we also know about the Yoda species is that they have 2 sexes: male and female. So let’s assume they are like humans and most other 2-sexed species on earth in that they have sexual reproduction, and that species diversity is primarily enabled by mixing of paternal and maternal genes.
 
Ecologists talk about r and K selection for evolutionary strategies. The r strategy is making many offspring,  early maturity, short life expectancy, few offspring are expected to survive to adulthood. Think most invertebrates, amphibians, mice, snakes, grass. Then there is  the K strategy: large organism, late maturity, longer life expectancy, most offspring expected to become adults. Think horses, elephants, humans, chimps, and Yodas. r-strategy works better in unstable environments, where you make many offspring hoping a few will survive the unstable conditions. You don’t have the parental energy to nurture them all, so they mature quickly, fending for themselves. Most individuals do NOT live to sexual maturity and pass on the genes, but enough do. K strategy creatures tends to work better in a stable environment. It is worthwhile to make more “expensive” offspring, but you need to make fewer because nurturing them, both gestationally and then for the 18 years until they go to college (and beyond) is resource expensive. But most individuals do live to sexual maturity. 
 

 
Since Yodas are obviously extreme Ks, we should now as why this strategy is evolutionarily successful with this species. I think it has to do with their extraordinary ability to work with The Force. One thing we can see with BY, is that he “plays” with the force: he manages to use the Force while it is still a baby. This is in complete contrast to those humans (and I assume, other species), who require maturity  to even start learning how to harness the force properly. (The midichlorian count of Yodas must be through the roof). Now, a species like that, which can use the force while still in diapers would require a lot of nurturing before it is let loose on the world. Otherwise, destruction to self and others is almost guaranteed. think a temper tantrum where your baby can choke the family dog, take the family landspeeder SUV off a cliff, or drop the roof crushing  everyone including itself. Maturing “quickly” would seriously shorten the individuals’ and species’ life expectancy. The ESS (evolutionary stable strategy) adopted then, is an extreme K: baby for 50 years, or more, and teach it the basics of not only using but *controlling* the force. Sort of like the equivalent of toilet training. This can take decades, but with a life expectancy of 900 or more, no one is in a rush.
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