Friday, November 10, 2006

Monks and monkeys

October 27, 2006 The Evolution of Handedness and Laterality
The evolution of bilaterality marked a great change in the organization of animals and to this day some illnesses are associated with disturbances of the normal balance between the two sides of the human body, most especially of the hemispheres of the brain. Presumably they would not occur if we were still arranged like jellyfish or sponges. But then we would probably not have become the species that we are without that great evolutionary leap forward.
A new report has shown that at the molecular level, the first signs of genes that are expressed asymmetrically are in the lowly sea anemone. What is even more extraordinary is that the same asymmetric genes found n the sea anemone can induce lateralization in the embryo of a frog.
This is of more than just academic interest: it tells us that the move toward lateralization was already present hundreds of millions of years ago, and primitive versions of some of the same genes in your body are also present in the simplest of organisms. This is incredible evidence for the oneness of life. There is also something else. Nature is economical: genes that are not needed are discarded. The fact that these lateralization genes have been around for such a long time indicates that they were critically important in our development. And disturbances of them may be important to this day.
The scientists doing the study have speculated that creatures with radial symmetry, like starfish, might have evolved from asymmetrical animals. I couldn’t help but remember the apparently strange speculations of Rudolf Steiner, who said that the essential form of humans was present hundreds of millions of years ago, and that other animals devolved from them. The idea was that sentience and spirituality did not just crop up with homo sapiens. but have been present since the beginning of time. Be that as it may, understanding more about the fundamental processes of lateralization will likely have important implications for understanding human evolution and disease.
“The wise man remembers that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future.”--Herbert Spencer (English Evolutionary Philosopher, 1820-1903)
“We are descended not only from monkeys, but also from monks.”--Elbert Hubbard (American Editor, Publisher and Author, 1856-1915)
“As Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin knew, the future of humankind is God-consciousness...”--Ken Wilber (American Philosopher, 1949-)
Technorati Tags: , , , , , , October 27, 2006 in Evolution, Genes, Handedness and Laterality

No comments:

Post a Comment