Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Early man, living on the savanna, evolved to throw a spear. Being able to successfully throw a spear allowed early humanity to hunt/gather more food, and thus a better chance to pass on the genetics that allow for well-thrown-spears. To throw a spear well, humans must be able to instinctively calculate to allow for wind, motion of target, up-hill, down-hill throws, etc.
As a side effect of being able to instinctively calculate a well-thrown spear (survival adaptation) when humanity later invents mathematics and trigonometry, humanity finds they have a built-in aptitude for this kind of thinking.
Exaptation = An unlooked for side effect of evolved behaviors.
An interesting side effect of this is that a larger right-brain (computation) makes for better antelope catching. The larger right brain allows for quicker instinctive calculation of prehistoric antelope artillery - making for quicker kills, more prosperous humans, and more reproduced genes to select from.
Further, it is easier for the genetic map to simply allow for a larger over-all brain, than simply a larger right brain. So consequently the left-brain (linguistics, imagination) also gets larger.
Ultimately the result is the evolution of poetic artillery-men. (*grin*)
Paraphrased from PZ Myers, Prof. Biology, University of Minnesota.
Interesting notion. For a start, this theory starts to explain how behaviours may evolve that do not necessarily directly equate to passing on the genetic line - or may be an unlooked for result of that survival trait. Very interesting.