Archive for evolution

Beware the Pigeons

Posted in Overthinking stuff with tags , , , on January 25, 2010 by cuttydarke

People think that intelligence must be some big thing imposed from on high and unique (on this planet at least) to humans.

It’s clearly not.  It’s practically a certainty.  Chaos theory suggests that intelligence, or at least intelligent behaviour, is everywhere and in everything.  Complexity arises spontainiously out of apparently simple rules and we would do well to keep an eye out for urban pigeons suddeenly developing a hive mind and taking over our cities.

Unless that’s already happened.

In our own case we like to think that intelligence is a huge big deal and that it’s what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom but actually it’s just one of the adaptations that put us at the top of the tree.  And it wasn’t even first

Walking upright freed up our front paws to develop oposoble thumbs.  Sweating kept us cool on the plains and the two combined meant that we could loose most of our hair and still keep cool.

The sweating and the nakedness gave us great stamina and made it possible for a weak animal to hunt much stronger ones because we could just chase them till they dropped.  All that protein and that excellent cooling system meant our brains could grow large.

Walking upright was the biggie.  And it was walking upright that gave us our elevated point of view.  It was walking upright that let us think that we were somehow better than all the other kids in the playground.

And that’s why the pigeons are taking over.