Who’s the fittest in this game of survival?

I’m a little worried about evolution.

I’m no scientist and my knowledge of Darwinian theory is basic at best, being sourced from the dusty secondary school biology files in my memory’s long-forgotten archives, as it is.

For instance, I vaguely recall there being a tale about giraffes’ necks extending over time to take advantage of the more abundant – and less sought after – food provided by acacia trees.

giraffe

Fact or fiction? Who knows, but I bought it. Figured this guy, Charles Darwin, was on to something. And, rightly or wrongly, I’ll probably tell it to my kid next time we’re at the zoo and she casually asks, “so, mum, tell me about Charles Darwin, what’s his schtick?”. She’s only in single digits age-wise and a while away from reaching the minimum height requirement for the teacup ride at Disneyland, so I’ve got some time to polish the giraffe analogy.

Lately, though, I’ve been wondering what happens when we dabble too much with Darwin’s thoughts on the order of things; the natural world’s way of weeding its garden. What kind of evolutionary domino effect do we unleash on the world. I wouldn’t say it’s keeping me up at night or sending me rushing off to build an ark – parenthood’s left me too exhausted for that – but it’s definitely making a regular appearance on my roster of things to ponder.

Before I really get in to what’s concerning me, here’s my meagre interpretation of what Darwin was on about…

evolution
/ˌiːvəˈluːʃ(ə)n,ˈɛv-/
noun

The little tweaks that happen to Earth’s creatures over time to give some of us better odds at getting through this thing called life in order to pass on any superior genes to our littluns. For example, people with double-jointed thumbs or a ridiculously acute sense of smell; features that are bound to come in super handy in a few hundred years.

 

Bearing that in mind, there’s one particularly serious purveyor of synthetic evolution that has a lot to answer for – cosmetic surgery.

How is evolution meant to get its day job done when there are people running around artificially enhancing their features to be fitter than they were genetically destined to be. How are the legitimately fit (in the survival of the fittest sense, of course) meant to avoid this skulduggery.

See. Dominos, falling everywhere.

Then there’s the we know best attitude us humans just love to adopt. For example, there’s the alligator getting CT scans  in Miami, USA, for fear he might have melanoma on account of his pale leucistic (looks albino, but isn’t) skin. Then there’s the tiger having corrective eye surgery for her cataracts and another condition that makes her cross-eyed.

I’m all for helping these fellas out, but surely this is something that, in the spirit of the great game of netball, would have Mr Darwin blowing his whistle and yelling, “interference!”

Lucky I’m not going to be sharing a dinner table with the likes of the amazing Jane Goodall any time soon, isn’t it. My concerns would send her running back to Gombe National Park to be with the smart folk. But, then, we’re all a work in progress, aren’t we.

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