FINDING OUR WAY with a Small Brain


I believe we will create a better world, – probably.  Call me a “depressed optimist”.  Case in point;  researchers of the 3 inch fossil Fuxianhuia protensa, (above) - English pronunciation "Fuk-swe-on-wea-pro-ten-sant" -  suggest that half a billion years ago these little buggies suffered a glitch during sexual reproduction, and begot a double genetic pairing in their proto-brains. This “double dose” of mental DNA strands gave rise to higher brain functions.  Evidently, it also gave rise to crazy.

As one brainiac involved in this study put it, “The price of higher intelligence and more complex behaviors is more mental illness.” What this implies is that whether you are studying religion or astronomy, Descartes or Deuteronomy, you are ingesting a degree of irrationality right along with any knowledge you acquire. 
The ability to use fire allowed us to break down meat proteins, but that also bestows the ability to burn down the house you live in. And we do it all the time – ask any Trump devotee.  Music or mythology, Einstein or astrology, nothing that humans have ever invented could not also be used to nullify humans. Why should the Internet be any different?
Recently, some idiots exploited a “hole” in the Java software system, putting, according to the United States Department of Homeland Security, one billion computers at risk.   In other words, the $8 trillion World Wide Web could be destroyed because somebody found out a way to make 50 cents of profit by blowing up the WWW.
My question is , what kind of idiot would try to make a profit from destroying all future profits?  But the answer is obvious. The same kind of idiots who blew up the world wide economic system in 1929 and again in 2007, and are trying to do it again right now. Bitcoin anyone? The same kind of idiots who are currently running the National Rifle Association, seemingly determined to convince the vast majority of Americans that the terms “gun owner” and “gun nut” are synonymous. As a famous fictional American once said, “Stupid is as stupid does”.
On the plus side, I also recently came across research from South Africa and Sweden, which reveals that the average dung beetle uses GPS in rolling up and away their poop balls. But the G in this GPS does not stand for global, but for galactic. 
I should pause here long enough to thank the lowly dung beetles for their dedication, for it is through their tireless efforts at removing billions of tons of herbivore waste from the surface of the earth that you and I can walk without sinking up to our knees in cow, bison, pig, sheep and moose shit. They bury their carefully gathered and formed poop balls just after laying their eggs in them, to ensure that future generations of dung beetles have a hearty first meal to start their lives. 
We've always known that once the lady beetle gets a nice juicy ball of dung together, they climb on top and do a little dance. Entomologists assumed, that just like the money hungry billionaires, this was a dung beetle's way of saying to the universe “This ball of crap is mine!” 
But now it seems they are actually seeking to orientate themselves so they can find their way back to the burrow they have dug for their balls.  If the sun is up, they use the sun. At night they use the moon. And on moonless nights they use the Milky Way, that smear of billions of stars that runs across the night sky, which nobody ever figured out till now that a dung beetle was even vaguely aware of.
According to Professor Marcus Bryne, from Wits University in Johannesburg, “The dung beetles don't care which direction they're going in; they just need to get away from the big fight with the other beetles at the poo pile (above).”   Don't we all.
And, you know, there appears to be a lesson here, on the relationship between Newtonian and Quantum physics. The beetles can use the Milky Way to define a straight line back to their burrows, because they are so small, and the Milky Way is so far away. 
However, a moth, using the same basic methodology, circles a porch light because they are bigger and closer to the light source. The moths think they are flying in a straight line, as long as they keep the light at an equal distance.  Sort of like cult members and Red Sox fans.  Or bundles of energy we call neutrons locked in shell around a nucleus.     
Or like a human driving down the interstate highway between Houston and Beaumont, Texas. It feels like an endless straight dull line, and it is. But it's a straight line drawn on a sphere, so it ain't straight.  Or to put it another way; the closer you get to an individual problem, the easier it is to become blinded  as to what the problem you are actually dealing with, is
But to get back to my original example, Fuxianhuia protensa - this little proto-bugy has been described as a “missing link”, or more accurately as “a mistaken link”. The problem is the little multi-legged creature, which an average human would have thoughtlessly stepped  on if they spotted it in their closet, might have been the ancestor of all bugs – all crickets, cockroaches, dung beetles, moths and honey bees. But it also might not.  Or to let Professor Nicholas Strausfeld from the University of Virginia explain it. “There has been a very long debate about the origin of insects,” he says. And that, it seems, explains everything.
See, the grand daddy of all buggies was either a crab or a sea monkey (brine shrimp if you are over the age of twelve). Crabs are crustaceans, and sea monkey's are brachiopods. Crabs have better brains than do sea monkeys. So, ancient sea monkeys were once thought to have evolved into insects, while ancient crabs evolved into everybody else. 
But then along comes Fuxianhuia protensa, with a squiggly body and an organized brain, and a dependable dated age of 520 million years old. And that is old enough to have been the great-great-great-etcettera-granddaddy of both lines of evolution – which means that life got smarter and then found it might be more advantageous to get stupid again, if with fewer legs.
I can dig that..  Every human male comes to realize that women often prefer bastards to nice guys, and young women realize that most men prefer easy girls to smart girls.  As your father or mother might have told you at that point, “Life isn't fair”, and he or she may even have asked you, “If you ever figure out the opposite sex, let me know, will you?” 
To put it in a more gender neutral way, most people reach a point when they suspect that their brains are just getting in the way of their hormones making them happy. And it appears that sometime during the Cambrian period, the squiggly crawly things wiggling across the ocean floor first confronted that basic philosophical conundrum: bigger brains or bigger balls and/or bigger tits? Which way will make me happy?
At that point it now appears that the balls and tits returned to a simpler brain and instant gratification, while the brains tried the deferred reward path. And the amazing thing is, it appears we both ended up in the same place, standing atop a our own pile of dung and looking to the Milky Way for answers to the Universe and everything or at least the chance to get laid, which is usually the same thing.
It's enough to make anybody a depressed optimist.

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