Inquisitiveness- a pre-requisite for evolution
Evolution took its own space on the time scale to reach the point where we are able to discern and follow the pattern with all the modern tools that we could invent. To reach the stage where we are able to; the initial steps taken by the earliest living being should have been immense in terms of expending energy and time. The journey from Homo habilis that was the earliest documented member of the genus Homo to the modern humans took roughly 2.3 million years.
The trigger to everything that happened in the course of evolution is the eternal nature of a human that is, being ‘inquisitive’. Curious by nature, the earliest human tried to take all the risks that a free soul could possibly think of. Probably, we have reached a stage, where we do not take further risks as freely as our ancestors might have taken. Most possibly we reached the final stages of evolution and our prowess now is limited only to provide intelligent systems to support the survival of mankind.
Rather interesting note by the British Naturalist, Sir David Attenborough in recent times that humans have stopped evolving indeed created flutters1. And his argument stands on natural selection theory by Charles Darwin. We as a part of modern world have all the means of affecting a natural selection process and probably, we have already done so. Scientists still are trying to unravel the mysteries around it and one of the strongest arguments to take the stand is that we humans have been the same for over 40,000 to 50,000 years. This in part can be related to the ’theory of punctuated equilibrium’ proposed by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge in 19722 according to which, evolution is a process that occurs rather rapidly alternating with longer periods of relative stability. Most likely, we are lucky to be part of the period of stability.
At the same time, our inquisitive nature would not die down so easily. For, this is one of the most coveted primeval features that made us. We as hominids have come a long way in inhabiting, dominating and taking an unassailable control over the planet. And we have laid our eyes on the other planets too. Even though, we would like to study the effect of evolution on us directly, the reaction time scale that we need to cover is rather unrealistic and it is more likely that in another million years or so, our future generations would arrive at the answer. Till then, we can speculate or rather be inquisitive for we need to provide our future generations with an answer to our very own query.
“We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system – with all these exalted powers – Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.”- The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin3
- Eldredge, Niles, and S. J. Gould (1972).“Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism.”In T.J.M. Schopf, ed., Models in Paleobiology. San Francisco: Freeman, Cooper and Company, pp. 82–115.
- From Charles Darwin,The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex(New York: Appleton and Co., 1883), pp. 7, 609, 612-614, 618-619.
(10th March 2014)