What Darwin Never Knew

DarwinHere’s a link to an excellent PBS Nova show I saw the other night.  It’s nearly 2 hours long, 1 hr 51 min, but I hope those who are interested will find time today or over the long weekend to watch it.  It’s really fascinating, especially if one keeps in mind that autism is a genetic variation, a mutation, and no, I’m not talking about any “Aspie Supremacy” here.  No one should be under the delusion that aspies are in any way “superior”, or that someday everyone will be autistic or Aspies.  That simply isn’t possible, no more than that everyone will become blonde, or blue-eyed, or left-handed.

The variation is more like if you put a few drops of blue food dye into a completely still backyard swimming pool.  For awhile, you’d be able to see it, mostly hanging together but slowly becoming diffused with the surrounding water.  Eventually, it would seem to disappear, but in fact, it would have a slight effect on the entire pool.  It could be that in a hundred (or a thousand) generations, no one will appear to be autistic, or “aspie”, but the entire population would be different in some way than how they are now.

I have no pretensions of being “scientific”, and no credentials whatsoever, but I have an intense interest in the subject of evolution.  I devour the stuff. I will state that I believe that human evolution is still occurring, and maybe at an ever-increasing rate.  If anyone believes that the present state of mankind is the pinnacle of possible human intellect and achievement, I suggest they take another look around.  Some species don’t seem to have the capacity to evolve, as I understand that the lobster and some sharks have remained essentially the same for like, 100 million years.  It could be that they just didn’t have the motivation to evolve, as their environment has remained unchanged.

I saw another documentary show last night, on the History channel, “How The Earth Was Made”.  It showed how they took deep ocean drillings and determined that the Sahara Desert first developed 3 million years ago, because the wind-driven sand that blew into the Atlantic first appeared at that depth.  Then they showed how, because of the wobble of the Earth, there were 20 thousand year cycles of wet and dry in Northern Africa.  They found fresh-water shells and whale bones, remnants of ancient human habitation in the desert, and determined that the end of the last wet period was only 5,500 years ago.  When the huge lakes and grasslands dried up, the inhabitants migrated to the east, where they found a generous river - and Egyptian Civilization was born!

Man is a highly adaptive creature, and our environment is constantly changing.  We even change it ourselves.  It could be that a major impetus for change is just around the corner.  I expect to see it.

If anyone wants to argue anything, please, at least watch the show in the link first.

Gotta give a link here to an excellent blog post, But you LOOK “normal!!”

What Darwin Never Knew first appeared at Comet’s Corner, and is reprinted here by permission of the author.

on 02/15/10 in Evolution, featured | No Comments | Read More

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