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A few notes on evolution in science A few notes on evolution in science
by Joseph Gatt
2019-11-24 09:53:11
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There used to be this herd of horses, somewhere in Africa. That family of horses figured out that rather than run around and hunt for hay, they could eat leaves from neighboring trees. The trees, who did not want to have their leaves eaten, decided to grow leaves higher so the horses couldn't reach them. The horses pulled their neck up to reach the leaves. Tree grows higher leaves, horse grows higher neck. This game goes on for thousands of years, and those horses have become giraffes.

The point I will try to make here is that evolution in science is never only about a single species. Evolution always depends as much about the species as it depends about the environment surrounding it. So I'll discuss how the weather, growing food, hunting for prey, social organization all play a role before I discuss the future of human evolution.

scien01_400Regarding adapting to the weather. We are currently discussing climate change and global warming, which to me do exist but are something of an exaggeration. Climate has not changed significantly in the last 100 or 200 years, and there's nothing to worry about. The main problem is you have corporations around the world that want to start mega-projects that would horribly damage the environment, so we need to keep this talk on climate change to prevent people from digging holes or building canals in ways that would cause irreversible damage.

But the main problem with the weather is there are black swans. If a volcano erupts, or if an asteroid hits the earth, the weather is going to get very, very, very weird. You will have winter in the summer, and it will be winter all year long for several years. We humans are more or less protected, as we grow food in greenhouses and get heating from gas and other sources. But a lot of the fauna and flora is not protected and could not survive 7 years of winter. Only the strongest, most adaptable survive.

Regarding growing food, you probably didn't know this, but plants don't want to be eaten. Plants are the “humans” and seeds are their “babies.” So they want to protect themselves as much as we want to survive. Fortunately plants are not very smart, but they can occasionally rebel. That's why there has been a constant war between plants and their environment, where plants try to outsmart their predators. To be succinct, without pesticides, GMOs and other “evils” the plants we eat would make us very sick. Plants defend themselves by providing a bland taste which is why kids don't like them, and why we have to add all kinds of condiments and salt and what not to make them more tasty.

All animal and plant species, including human beings, have taken this fight against predators very seriously. We human beings are the only species that kill other human beings not for food, but for strategic purposes. Most animals kill other animals for food. So animals, including human beings, have done what they could to counter predators. Some developed a fast pace when running, others developed an instinct capable of detecting predators several yards away, while others developed camouflage to prevent predators from attacking them. Animals don't only defend themselves, a lot of times they need to attack so they can find food. So animals have developed sharp teeth or venom or sharp claws or excellent eyesight and instinct to detect when food is around. We human beings used to have sharp instinct when it came to detecting animals we hunted. But with urbanization and crowded cities we have lost our ability to hear prey approaching several miles or yards away, and have lost our ruses and traps to attract prey. Some hunters still have it, but not as sharp as millennia ago.

Finally, the future of evolution. The last 50 years have been relatively safe for human beings. So a lot of human beings are increasingly losing their natural instincts when it comes to detecting danger. But I would say that our diet and technology is going to be the main factor that plays out in human evolution. Diet and technology probably means that if I come back 300 years from now for a visit (if heaven grants me that wish) I'll probably find a human species which would look obese for my standards, with reduced mobility, and a very heavy reliance on automation and technology. And the alpha-male and alpha-female will be those “thin ones” (which would still be “fat” by our standards) who have the ability for mobility and can move around and fix things. But 300 years from now I bet that human beings will spend most of their time sitting and will walk very little. So 600 years from now human beings will probably evolve to having very low mobility in their legs and will have to crawl around. I feel bad for my future great-great-great-great grand children, if I ever have children in the first place.

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