An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of November 2, 2014
Issued from Río Lagartos, Yucatán, MÉXICO

FAST EVOLUTION

FAST EVOLUTION
Jarvis in North Carolina sent a link to an article in the October, 2014 edition of Science Magazine documenting incredibly fast evolution among the lizards called Green Anoles. We have a good bit to say about Green Anoles at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/a/anole.htm.

The study took place on small islands off Florida's coast. There, an exotic Caribbean species of anole was introduced, which invaded the native Green Anole's habitat, driving the Green Anoles higher into trees. This resulted in the Green Anoles evolving larger toepads after only 20 generations, or 10 to 15 years. Larger toepads enabled the Green Anoles better to adhere to the more limber and wind-agitated branches at the tree's higher levels. The abstract of this paper is available for free at http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6208/463.

This study is important because such fast evolution among organisms as complex as anoles is poorly documented. To give the study some context, one of the researchers, Harvard's Yoel Stuart, said, “if human height were evolving as fast as these lizards' toes, the height of an average American man would increase from about 5 foot 9 inches (1.75 meters) today to about 6 foot 4 inches [1.9 meters] within 20 generations."

I'm way past needing more evidence that the Universal Creative Impulse constantly evolves the Universe, making it ever more complex and with the parts ever more interdependent, with each tiny change causing the need for other changes everyplace else. Still, learning about the study refocused my thinking about evolution in general, and before long the thought arose that, at least as experienced here on Earth, at least three great rivers of evolution flow through time and space.

The first grand river of evolution started with the Big Bang gushing out dead matter -- everything from atoms, subatomic particles and electromagnetism to stars, planets and galaxies, creating the Universe we now behold.

Second, as soon as enough reactive dead matter was in place here on Earth, life arose. Then the evolving river of life flowed until now Earth abounds with diverse life. It continues to flow, and probably evolving life or something like it permeates the entire Universe.

Third, once there was life, at least some living things began thinking, and thought, over time, is itself a river. For, thought, as in Nature, builds upon earlier realizations. Nature came up with the idea of a flower, and the galaxy of flowering plants, or angiosperms, gushed forth. In the same way, someone came up with the notion of electronically encoding information in zeros and ones, and today we have the world of computers and cyberspace.

A question arises: Are these three great streams of Universal evolution the only ones? Or might there be a fourth river possible, one arising from thought, as thought arose from life, and life arose from dead matter? If another great river of evolution is about to spring forth, I'm betting that it will be the River of Spirituality. And, if that's so, what will that spirituality be like?

Will it be as Maya shamans visualize, a return to when super-enlightened mystics built pyramids using their minds to move great stones through the air? Or, might another of their beliefs, that events eternally repeat themselves in cycles, assure that what ultimately arises from incisive mentality will be a return to whatever nothing-seeming state preceded the Big Bang? Or, something unimaginable beyond these possibilities?

What a pleasure to be currently occupying this random plot of furiously evolving Planet Earth, and hear from an old friend about anoles who speak wisdom to us, if only we pay attention, and wonder about the meanings of things.

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