I've been thinking of human evolution lately … sure it helps that I've
been reading essays from Stephen Jay Gould's book, Dinosaur in a Haystack,
but I've been pondering this question for years…
Since evolution is simply the collective byproduct of individuals having
more sex than others, over sufficient time, you'd expect that humans would
evolve into creatures that could get more. While 100,000 years ago, a
smarter man could learn and adapt quicker than his dim-witted cousin, could
find more food, and not become food, and therefore live long enough to
mate… we find humans getting smarter over time.
But what about now?
I used to think that, being the egghead that I am, that I would be more
desirable for my ability to make lots of money during the dot-com booms
that lots of hot women would want my seed for their children. Hey, why are
But if we look around the world, we actually find the opposite. As your
individual specimen grows in education and affluence, the number of
offspring drop. Sure, there are exceptions like R.A Fisher††Let me just state, for the record, that my reference to R.A. Fisher is in no wise an advocation or endorsement for his either positive or negative eugenics. However, I have finally had enough time to actually discuss the eugenics debate.
and Bach with his twenty-some-odd children, but those are exceptions.
But given this trend, does this mean that we will never evolve into those
psionic-wielding, bulbous-brain fellows of science fiction? Probably not.
Especially given the relative evolutionary stability our species has been
enjoying over the last 100,000 years. We just don't need anything
But that could change. As soon as the next comet strikes the Earth causing
the next wave of extinction, will we be able to survive better than the
rats and cockroaches? Actually, a more likely possibility is that we will
poison the world so much that only cockroaches and humans who mutated to
live on carbon monoxide will survive. But what type of human will be sexy
then? Hopefully the ones that can lift boulders with their minds…
This brings up another debate that I would like to give the final answer.
Surely you've heard of the arguments between the Catastophists vs. the
Uniformitarians … the former believing that changes only occur when
major catastrophes, like asteroid impacts and floods occur. The latter
claiming that change happens inevitably over time primarily due to genetic
The short answer is, they're both right. They both happen and they both
produce the results we see. The comet kicked the dinosaurs out, and opened
up a window of opportunity for the mammals… but the mammals also had to
adapt in order to survive the very same situation that doomed the
But there are also lots of other minor catastrophes, like changing weather
patterns creating a desert out of a jungle and making some apes walk around
a lot more for their food. Others happen due to slower adaptations where
one animal was just a little quicker at catching that bug.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to seeing if my children can
bend spoons and levitate toys, as I'm sure that will be important in the
future for impressing the ladies in the post-apocalyptic holocaust.
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