Thursday, April 21, 2011

Human Evolution: By Natural Or Artificial Selection?

By John Prytz

We come in breeds. The proof of that pudding stares you in the face everyday as you observe the racial variety of people around you. I don't recall anything in Genesis that explains this, so maybe God had nothing to do with this - assuming the existence of a bona-fide supernatural creator God of course in the first place - though I stand to be corrected on the lack of a Biblical explanation by appropriate authorities.

But if the Bible doesn't explain the origin of the various breeds of humans neither does Darwin's natural selection, in the same way that natural selection didn't create, and doesn't explain our dog breeds. Survival of the fittest didn't produce the French Poodle - we did that! But who (or what) created our diversity of breeds or races?

To quell the immediate curiosity of the reader, my answer comes down solidly in favour of our evolution by 'artificial selection', which detracts not one jot from the Darwinian principles of evolution via natural selection. The difference between the two is that artificial selection is selection deliberately guided by intelligence; natural selection is, well natural, and not by design.

Humanity, mankind, human beings, however you label us, are collectively made up of breeds just like our own domesticated and bioengineered (artificial bred) animals (companion, farm or other) and plants (crops or garden varieties). The key words are 'domesticated' and 'bioengineered'. We've been domesticated and bioengineered too, but we didn't domesticate and bioengineer our own human breeds like we domesticated and bioengineered our domesticated plants and animals. Somebody or something else will take that credit.

Now I'm not really talking here about the so-called scientific phrase now substituted for creationism - 'intelligent design'. Intelligent design has the philosophical baggage of having a supernatural creator, a God, behind the design. Alas, in the case of the human being, if God designed us from scratch; from the ground up, well He really failed Bioengineering 101. The various aches and pains and ailments we suffer because of bad biological design testify to that!

No, I'm referring here to the sort of artificial selection we humans employ when we breed dogs or cats or cattle or drought-resistant crops or whatever for our particular real (or imagined needs). I'm just turning the tables here a bit in what's good for the goose is good for the gander. As we do, so has it been done to us! The question again is, done unto us by whom?

To further quell the immediate curiosity of the reader, the 'who' collectively are the mythological gods, who aren't really mythical, nor are they supernatural, but flesh-and-blood extraterrestrials who happen to have a special interest in, and abilities toward, genetics.

The basic premise, as expounded upon by universal cultural mythologies, is that the gods created humans, creating humans to relieve the gods of, and do the hard work instead, and to also serve the gods - and I don't just mean by kneeling and prayer and building edifices to them. Translated, in more modern terminology, the flesh-and-blood extraterrestrials, which came upon Planet Earth many hundreds-of-thousands, perhaps millions of years ago, set up shopkeeping. Eventually known, if not loved, as the gods, these 'gods' genetically engineered humans from primate stock with again the ultimate goal of making the 'gods' life easier and more rewarding. Because of genetic similarities to our modern selves, that initial primate stock more likely as not were the chimpanzees.

One of those 'more rewarding' bits; one of the 'gods' tricks in their genetic engineering experiment, a design element designed to appeal to the 'gods' was to ensure humans were sexually compatible with them, and by Jove, did they ever make use of that engineered compatibility - at least if you take at face value and believe what transpired according to the mythological tales. Not suitable reading for the kiddies!

Now, the initial question is, if the overall intention of the extraterrestrial 'gods' is to create slaves to do the housework for the 'gods', and to serve the 'gods' (sexually or otherwise), and all you have to work with is terrestrial life (minus humanity), what sort of traits do you need to select for in order to get a life form that can build the pyramids and monumental structures that are constructed in order to serve the purpose of worshiping you? Clearly only humans can build a pyramid, so what skills or attributes do we have now that all other terrestrial life forms didn't have then?

Two particulars stand out. One is that in order to build a pyramid, etc. one needs a free pair (or more) of appendages in order to manipulate stuff. How do you get a free pair of appendages? Well, you have got to go from a quadrupedal stance to a bipedal stance, thus freeing up two appendages (i.e. - arms). From a Darwinian point-of-view, that's a problem. There's a cost. Now we're clearly bipedal. But will a bipedal posture be selected for naturally? Not usually, for again, there's a price to be paid.

The second particular is that you need some degree of smarts! Translated, to build a pyramid you need a relatively large and complex brain. Many animals might be strong enough to build a pyramid, but they just don't have a high enough IQ to pull it off. However, again from a Darwinian perspective, a high IQ comes at a high cost. Will high intelligence be selected for naturally?

Though there are some limited advantages to standing upright (apart from freeing up two arms to do things with like grab forbidden fruit slightly higher up in the trees) - you can see farther; wade slightly deeper waters, in general a bipedal stance comes at a considerable cost. Two limbs now have to take up all the body weight instead of four legs (or six - if you're a bug; or eight - if you're a spider). If one of those two limbs fails, you're in deep poo. However, survival is more probable if you have four (or six or eight) legs and one fails.

Further, if you're bipedal, your centre of gravity shifts, making you way more prone to losing your balance and falling over. Also, bipedal animals tend to run slower than a quadrupedal one. Most dogs whose backbones are at my knee height or more, and cats, can easily outrun me. The upshot of all of that is that in the animal kingdom, only birds (and their ancestors, the theropod bipedal saurischian dinosaurs) are (or were) bipedal - for fairly obvious reasons. Two of their four 'legs' have evolved for flying. Humans have no such fallback since we can't flap our arms and fly.

Now various animals can, and do, for brief periods, stand upright, say prairie dogs, chipmunks, bears, etc. Some animals can be taught to briefly stand up like circus elephants. Kangaroos, wallabies and related are usually bipedal, but they hop, not walk or run. Not even our primate relations routinely walk around on two legs although many can and do so for brief periods.

I think the advantages of a bipedal way of posture and locomotion are overstated, otherwise way more animals would have evolved that posture; you'd expect our cats and dogs to not so much as sit-up and beg but stand-up and beg for special treats. Out of millions and millions of vertebrate species that have existed over the past 300 or so million years of geologic history, only a relative tiny handful have adopted the bipedal mode of lifestyle. It's not proved to be exactly an evolutionary success story unlike the more universal backbones and rib cages and skulls all vertebrates have.

Overall, in the biological scheme of things, we're not just a little bit more advanced in a bipedal way, we're WAY MORE advanced. The question is, why? Again, why are humans so obviously bipedal? And if we're not so inclined to be bipedal by natural selection, perhaps then we've been so evolutionary inclined by artificial selection - by the 'gods' to free up our upper limbs, a useful trait if the 'gods' put us to work.

Now humans are smart. We're top of the 'food chain' when it comes to IQ. We have very large brains relative to our body size. We have very complex brains. But all that size and complexity has a cost. An infant's head has to be pretty soft and squishy and malleable and hence very vulnerable in order to fit through the birth canal, and even then it's a struggle and a pretty dicey part of an infant's and mother's life.

Now intelligence, the ability to figure things out, must have a degree of natural survival value. Cats and dogs and pigs and many wild birds and dolphins and the humble octopus and our primate cousins aren't dumb. Again, unlike the universal vertebrate backbone, rib cages, and skulls millions of vertebrate species have (or had) only one has excelled - top-of-the-pops - in IQ. BUT, we're not just a little bit more advanced in the IQ department. We're massively more advanced.

One might expect, based on natural selection, that if our average IQ was 100, perhaps our primate relations might have an average IQ of say, 90. That's not the case. Most of the mammalian kingdom is clustered around a relatively narrow range of IQ way lower than ours. A dog isn't a 100 times smarter than a cat or vice versa. But, humans are a 100 times smarter than our mammalian (and all other vertebrate) relations. Why? What natural evolutionary pressure did we face than thousands of other vertebrates, especially mammals, and especially, especially the primates, didn't? Some human-only evolutionary pressure drove up our IQ levels to such extraordinary heights, but what evolutionary pressure?

You'd be hard pressed to think of any other terrestrial bipedal, high IQ species that could build the pyramids - in fact the answer is no other terrestrial species could. Again, why were humans so blessed? And if we're not so blessed with a high IQ by natural selection, then perhaps it must be by artificial selection; selection by, or genetic bioengineering by, the 'gods'?

Moving on down the line, as each step in the 'gods' enforced artificial evolution of humans was achieved, slightly more upright posture; slightly higher average IQ, the previous lot - the less advanced hominoid species - were left to their own fate - extinction. There's a lot of extinct hominoid species (for example, Homo habilis, Gigantopithecus or the Neanderthals) that are evolutionary links separating us from our primate ancestors, most probably chimpanzees, now our closest modern kissing cousins.

When the 'gods' had at last achieved a reasonable facsimile of their objective, they gave us the gifts of knowledge (the basics anyway) and helped kick-started us on our road to civilized society. At some point or other we probably - ungrateful twerps that we tend to be - pissed them off and they packed their bags and left, perhaps leaving behind a token presence (UFOs) to monitor us to ensure we don't ever become a threat to them and reverse the roles of slave and master.

Are there any other bits and pieces that set humans apart that might be suggestive of us getting some sort of special evolutionary treatment, translated artificial evolutionary treatment?

Since all humans are one species because we can all breed with one another, and since we presumably originated from small beginnings (population wise) in Africa, all humanity must have been akin to one not-quite-so-big melting pot. We were a uniform cup of coffee - one species; one race. Then we started spreading out throughout the world (minus Antarctica) and for some unexplained reason diverged into different breeds or ethnic classifications or races. The Big Question is - as Big Questions always tend to be - WHY?

And here I want to focus on facial features. What's so different or unique about the Asian environment(s) so as to evolve in humans' typical Asian facial features, say vis-à-vis the Australian environment and her indigenous aboriginals who also have distinguishable but different facial features versus Europe, the European environment and Caucasian facial features vis-à-vis Polynesia and Polynesian facial features, etc. Something is screwy somewhere! I can't see how this aspect of human biology can be accounted for by Darwinian natural selection.

But what if human breeds - one species, now different races - were created or manufactured in the same way we artificially select and create different cat breeds, or cattle breeds or different plant varieties like the many varieties of roses or orchards?

Just like cats and cattle; roses and orchards - one general species; many created breeds or varieties - so too for humans - one interbreeding species now existing as many (artificially selected?) breeds all capable of interbreeding. Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest natural selection can not explain this. There's no explaining the breed differences in racial facial features other than to resort, IMHO, to artificial selection, and the only beings capable of doing that were the 'gods' - the extraterrestrials who have this thing for advanced bioengineering genetics!

Now if you have a species, and that population gets separated by some geographic barrier, then over time the two split halves will slowly evolve into I guess first two separate breeds (that in theory can still interbreed), then eventually two separate species that can no longer breed and produce viable offspring. But, if you postulate that the one-species, one-breed humans scampered out of Africa and migrated around the globe without undo hindrance, then presumably there were no insurmountable geographic barriers big enough to then keep the various migrating clans or tribes or human herds forever and ever apart and thus prevent any interbreeding. Yet the one-breed one-species became multi-breeds, one-species as if there were now in place geographic barriers and isolation between the clans, tribes, herds; whatever. At least this alleged isolation of the tribes only lasted until the 'modern' age of travel and exploration and then all manner of human tribes discovered all manner of other human tribes. That's of course if you accept the traditional view of things. But the question remains - why no barriers in getting from A to B, but once at B, not being able to get back to A again. I repeat that there's something's screwy somewhere.

Perhaps a more far-out but ultimately better or more plausible explanation is that the extraterrestrial 'gods' genetically engineered or designed the various human breeds in the African 'laboratory' and then transported the various types of human races to various locations throughout the world. The Asian-looking human population were transported, not surprisingly, to what we call today Asia! And thus the various human breeds, located in their separate abodes having been transported over natural geographic barriers by ET, where they had to pretty much stay put, came up with their own unique cultural and ultimately mythological variations or versions of their 'creator' god's creations having been pretty befuddled by all the super technology that really 'created' them. And so in mythology we have universal tales of the gods (or IMHO 'gods') creating humanity, with individual cultural variations on that theme.

In a similar way, other things associated with the 'gods', say their pets or other entities, there being more than one type of ET present, translated into some of the near uniform and near universal mythologies surrounding say dragon-lore and dragons (pets) or fairy-folk (another variety of ET).

Anyway, why would the 'gods' create and transport different human breeds to different geographical locations - why do it this way? Two possible reasons suggest themselves. ET is the 'farmer' and they have, say, ten fields. They can plant one corner of one field (say a part of Africa where their 'lab' is) and wait for Nature to spread the seeds around to the rest of that field and hence to the other nine fields, or, they could plant parts of all of their ten fields at one go. That's the same crop in all ten fields. But perhaps it's better to have diversity. The second scenario is that you plant one crop (human breed) in one field (say Africa), another (human breed) in another (say Asia), a third human breed in the field called Europe, and so on though all ten. Why do this?

If Nature doesn't take her normal course - if humans don't spread out, if all the fields don't naturally produce crops, then all isn't lost by taking the above action. By deliberately planting a diversity of 'crop' breeds in all ten fields you've maximized your return on your investment by not putting all your eggs in the one-species, one-breed in Africa basket.

It's doesn't strike me as being a natural state of affairs to naturally have way back when just Black Africans in Africa; Caucasians in Europe; Asians in Asia; Aborigines in Australia, etc. That's because it's not as if Asians can't survive and thrive in Europe; Caucasians can and do live okay in Australia; Black Africans have made the USA home as Afro-Americans. Every human breed can find a successful biological niche in every geographic area, so why the initial geographic separation when human traffic could presumably go both ways, and segregation and evolution into breeds or races, if one assumes a natural state of affairs, puzzles me. Something is indeed screwy somewhere!

Science librarian; retired.

Article Source: [] Human Evolution: By Natural Or Artificial Selection?

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