You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘evolution’ tag.
I am indulging myself with The Bonnet Channel on this windy Saturday morning. It’s one of my favorites – The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. Big sigh for Errol Flynn – if only he hadn’t been such a dissipated rogue, although I guess that was a large part of his charm. (I’ll write more about Erroll, and about Robin Hood, one of these days.)
Watching this film, set in 13th century – though I must say Hollywood seems to think that fashion in the 13th century was much more regal than I imagine it actually was – I started thinking about how and why the world has changed in to the last 900 years. (Cue “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” intro narration.)
It is hard to separate the idea of native intelligence from the intelligence of this technology-driven world in which we live. I am certain that the men and women of the year 1266 were just as smart as we are today. So why could they not figure out the things we have been able to in subsequent centuries? We have always had the basic resources – which really come down to the four elements of which everything is composed, and from some variant/combination of which everything has been developed: earth, air, fire, water.
So were we just new enough that we were spending our evolutionary childhood figuring stuff out like infants and children do? I can’t get a peg on how long humans have been on earth; some sources say 200,000 years, others say 4,000,000, and still others guess any number before, after or in between. If we’ve been around for four million years and we were still in our childhood 900 years ago, then we’ve had a serious growth spurt in the last few centuries. Or else we’re now in our adolescence and we have an absolutely astounding adulthood before us. Unless we burn ourselves out and leave a decent-looking corpse.
Anyway, the question is, were people intelligent enough 900 years ago to figure out things like how to make plastic or microchips or cars? If so, why didn’t it happen then? Were they just too busy trying to subsist from day-to-day? I know most farmers don’t have the opportunity to spend their days or nights trying to create new inventions. It seems that the issue is less the intelligence of people 900 years ago than it is their lack of leisure time. But then the idle rich weren’t the ones who invented things – isn’t necessity the mother of invention?
Do you get what I’m thinking? I’m not sure I’m expressing myself very well, but I’m going to put it out there for discussion as is. I may come back to it later, once my brain has chewed on it some more.
It’s nice having deep thoughts again for a change. But it does help to have a dialogue about them.
Girls today. Soooo much more mature at 13 than I was. Between make-up and physical development, some of the girls in 7th grade look like high school seniors. This got me thinking today…why? Is it the hormones in the food we’ve been feeding our kids for the last (at least in my experience) 13 years? I was never overly concerned with staying organic in terms of Kelsea’s diet – it seemed that you have to go all the way with that attitude or it’s pointless – though I always tried to emphasize healthy eating. Pat was more the junk-food supplier.
Think about it. Back in the 12th century, girls were of a marriageable age at 12, which is a year younger than Kelsea. They were often having kids at 13. But the average life expectancy was age 30. And about 50% of children under the age of 5 died. So it made some evolutionary sense to start procreating early, because you had to work twice as hard to keep your child alive, and you weren’t going to live that long yourself. Okay, logical.
As we moved into the prim and proper 1800s, life expectancy increased and the acceptable age for marriage and childbearing became more like 15 or 16. Makes sense – we were living longer, and conditions were somewhat less harsh, so children had a slightly better mortality rate. People even started naming their children at birth – they didn’t used to do so, since the child had such a low likelihood of surviving.
We then enter the prim and proper Victorian era. Young women were chaperoned until the day of their marriage – they were expected to be wed and breeding around the age of 21. With infant mortality rates down to 33%, and average life expectancy up to age 48 by 1901, women could afford to get started having kids later. But why did their maturation rate slow down – why did sexual maturity start occurring later? What evolutionary signal was there that said, “Hold up! We don’t have to do this at age 12.”?
Moving into the kaleidoscope that was the 20th century, we went through different attitudes towards sex, childbirth and the definition of maturity, but we still kept the biological rhythm the same – women developed at about 14 or 15 and up.
And that’s where we catch up to today. Life expectancy is as long as it’s ever been – 78.4 years. The average age for childbirth is 25. And infant mortality rates are 6.7% in the US. So why are girls developing so early? Why are 7-year-old girls dancing suggestively to songs that should be way beyond their understanding? Why is boy-girl drama starting in 3rd grade? By 7th grade, it has escalated to who is making out with who in the stairwell (yes, there are 7th grade “players”) and who may be having sex. I mean, what the heck?
This physical maturity is unfortunately not accompanied by emotional maturity. You can bet your bippy that at 12-year old bride in the Middle Ages knew how to run a household, even a meager mud-hut household. A 12-year old girl today can barely run a dustcloth.
What is the point of this evolutionary change? Particularly since the whole concept of survival of the fittest, which in primitive or animal societies is the natural form of population control, has basically been eradicated due to “civilization”, improvements in medical care, and our system of “justice”? (And why are all these things that are supposed to be “good” in “quotes”? Maybe because I don’t think they’re very “good” – or “working very well”).
Perhaps there is something to this whole 2012 apocalypse thing, and we are reproducing and maturing at a rapid rate because survival of the fittest is about to make a comeback. Or not. As I said before, I don’t have the answers, I just ask the questions.