The university of life

Evolution of man (and woman)

We often like to think that the human species is one of the most evolved species on this planet. We all know of course that this is not true, but that the human brain has evolved to think we are. That's why our brain needs to be of gigantic proportions. Otherwise it cannot fit this grand delusion into our think skull. A side effect of our gigantic brain is that we are never satisfied with how things are right now. That is how things get invented. Combine these two phenomena, wishful thinking and inventiveness, and mix up cause and effect, and we have a perfect recipe for misunderstanding.

We have now established that our brains cannot be used to measure our position on the evolutionary ladder, we are forced to look at a more objective and scientifically innocent structure, namely our teeth. There is nothing fake about teeth, because unlike our brains they are a functional and necessary structure. With this in mind we can postulate that evolutionary progress can be read from our teeth. Obviously the more primitive organisms, such as bacteria and archaea lack teeth or tooth-like structures. We then see a trend towards big and powerful teeth that can deal with the adverse food conditions in the average wilderness.

The question is if big powerful teeth are the archetype of an advanced tooth. Of course not, because evolution is like a mother, it never really stops working and cleaning up the mess her children make. In evolutionary advanced animals we see a trend towards loss of teeth and reduction in size. A mouse would be quite advanced with its missing premolars and no secondary dentition. The group of Edentata (meaning 'no teeth': sloths, armadillos, anteaters) are the pinnacle of evolution. Most of the members of this group lost almost all teeth and some of them even all. They switched to advanced an advanced food source (anteater: ants), or an advanced lifestyle (sloth: professional laziness).

Humans are on the track to evolutionary success. Our teeth are reduced in size compared to or ancestors. Some of us don't even bother any more with producing wisdom teeth. But we still have a long way to go. For the hip people, who are always on the cutting edge of progress, I would recommend the removal of all teeth, a soft diet, and a comfortable bed.


Professor at the UOL

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