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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Living Space

Headline writers sometimes don't seem to appreciate the duty they have to write with the greatest care, so that too often they mislead.   Today BBC News was guilty of that kind of carelessness.  Their headline read: Space is the final frontier for evolution, study claims.   Ordinarily when you leave the word "space" unmodified, it means "outer space," especially when you add a term like "the final frontier."  But there are other kinds of space, and here the one they're really talking about is "living space," or "lebensraum," as the Germans put it when they invaded nearly everybody in sight.

  This study is important, especially to those who, like yours truly, think that the less competition the better, because the article explores the possibility that Darwin put too much emphasis on the idea of the "survival of the fittest," and that what was more important for the process of evolution was the expansion of elbow room.

  This article and this new theory zero in on the way that after the dinosaurs were totally zapped by an errant asteroid, mammals moved into that newly opened space and so replaced the dinos as the biggest members of the food chain.

   It seems to me that the scientists will have to fight over which of their number -- the biologists or the physicists? -- has the biggest claim to this new theory of evolution, because isn't this just another demonstration of the principle that nature abhors a vacuum?

  It seems that mammals had already been living alongside the dinosaurs for 60 million years.   Sixty million years!.  That is an incredibly long time, and it should've shot down the idea of competition right there, for that is far too long a period for any competition to last.  I think we can say that in that time the nimble little mammals and the clumsy big reptiles had instead long since gotten quite comfortable with feeding off of each other.   And after the asteroid hit, it was just another demonstration of not a high-flying scientific principle but simply of the way that animals love to take  advantage of a situation.   House cats teach us that.

    In the case of the mammals, things didn't evolve so much as they merely got out of hand, just as they already had with the dinosaurs.  I mean, what else can you say about a hippopotamus?  Or about elephants for that matter?  Or penguins?     Penguins have no fingers or even hands, you know.   That's a huge travesty of nature right there!   That's why they were banished by the other mammals to live in the worst room in the house, way down under.


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