Some things seem to change and other things seem to always stay the same. Honestly, few things really do stay the same. Some years ago, there was a big controversy about evolution taught in schools. Of course, being in Texas and the Bible Belt, there was not a lot of chance this was going to gain traction and become mainstream. I can remember the conversations by the adults around me and the confusion I had because I was unsure about what I was going to be learning. Looking back I had some “progressive” teachers that had some strange ideas. Thankfully they were in the minority. The influential teachers made the biggest impact in my life and those are the ones that have helped me form who I am today. The teachers with the odd lesson plans are merely just humorous memories now.
I was thinking about evolution the other day. I had a teacher that explained how the human race would change to adapt to our ever changing world. Granted I haven’t seen many generations, but I just don’t see any real changes or at least anything monumental. Now I could point out the obvious way people seem to be different. There is the area in Africa that must have very poor mass transit, their countrymen have to run long distances. These are the ones that win the marathon races all the time. Here in this country we have people that have evolved as well, they have extremely strong thumb muscles and increased padding from playing video games. I am sure Darwin would have a field day with that study.
Now Darwin studied animals and that is where we see the best examples of evolution. Of course we tend to help nature along by breeding our domestic animals in a way to provide what we desire. We want large cattle, faster race horses and smaller cuter dogs. This is probably not what would have happened if nature took its course over a period of many years.
However you have to wonder how some animals evolve. We constantly hear that sharks and alligators are basically unchanged for millions of years. Why is that, when some animals seem to differ based on local environmental influences? I have a lot of questions. Why did the giraffe grow a long neck instead of longer legs? Why is the sloth so slow that moss grows on it? Why are some birds able to fly yet build nests low to the ground? Why don’t all birds fly? Using that logic why don’t some horses fly, like a pegasus? Which might lead to unicorns, which might explain how we have a hippo on dry land with a horn (a rhinoceros, and yes I spelled that without the use of a dictionary).
I was also thinking about snails. Basically snails are just slugs with a shell. So which way is this evolution going? Is the snail shedding its shell in favor of speed, or is the slug carrying his home with him? Quite honestly, the shell provides little protection. When I step on one it barely offers any resistance. Of course the “crunch crunch crunch” gives me the willies and I watch where I step after that, so maybe it does serve a purpose. It doesn’t seem to deter predators either; I have seen a roadrunner snap a snail out of its shell faster than a Frenchman eating escargot. And how do snails live in the ocean if the salt gets to them? Why don’t they evolve legs so they can move out of the way faster?
While we humans don’t really evolve in our lifetimes, we do seem to adapt to the changes in our lives. We learn how to cope with hardships, we enjoy the happy times, we accommodate others as needed. We probably are a lot more flexible than we might think. Take a look at the things this weekend that you have adapted to without realizing it. That will make you realize that you have, indeed, evolved from the caveman days. However, are you flexible enough to try escargot?