August dawned with some amazing news. Was this the end of evolution, as we know it ? And does this mean that we, as humans, have reached the limit of our smartness ?
Cambridge University researchers have announced, that to get any more smarter, was going to need lots and lots of energy and oxygen, which didn't look feasible at all, and so we as humans are now the smartest we will ever be.
This is all fine, if we assume that we basically started evolving in the correct direction, in life.
Sometimes I have my doubts. And many questions.
Just think. We are supposed to have evolved from quadrupeds, over millions of years. A look into the variety of the animal kingdom, replete with the various animals , reptiles and birds seen the world over, presents a wild array of colors. There are animals with stripes, spots, silken manes, bushy faces, displaying designs in brown, yellow , gold, white, grey, deep brown, golden brown, rust, majestic black; birds resplendent in brilliant multicolored plumage, designed to give a desperate complex to a rainbow, and reptiles and others, in smart camouflaging shades of green and brown, metallic designs simulating silk ......
And I often wonder, why, as such amazingly evolve bipeds, we have evolved into folks with such boring colors. Why are humans classified as white,black,dark,fair, brown, and sometimes yellow? At what point and why in our evolution, did we lose out on color ? How come we do not see purple, green, and silver ladies, and orange, blue and pink men ?
Is the evolution of the cerebral cortex, which is the hallmark of a human, related to the sidelining of color ?
Does it have something to do anatomical limitations on how we perceive color ?
Our eyes have photo receptors in the form of "rods" and "cones". The rods enable us to see things in the dark, and the cones have a role in allowing us to perceive colors. But color per se, is NOT just what hits the cones. Color is what results after our subconscious minds/visual brain analyses the input to the photo receptors. We humans have cones that are designed to recognize wavelengths corresponding to Red, Blue and Green, and combinations of these. The limitation is defined by the basic three wavelength ranges, and what we perceive as color is the interpretation by our visual brain that analyses what impinges on the cones.
Turns out that this is a very small part of the entire color spectrum, and many other, so called less evolved animals and birds, have a more detailed perception of color, reaching into the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. Bees are known to see into the ultraviolet range of the spectrum, and can recognize ultraviolet patterns on flower petals that guide them to where the honey is. Dogs have only 2 types of cones , making them dichromatic (we are trichromatic(RBG)). Turns out Cats are trichromatic too, but also have smarter rods in their eyes, and so can see in the dark. Reptiles are known to be able to see in the infra-red part of the spectrum. Maybe their lifestyle choices over centuries, have made their sight evolve the way it has.
So a blue we see, may not be the same blue that , say a dog, horse or cat sees. While we lose out in the spectrum stakes, where we supposedly win, is in our supposedly brilliantly evolved visual brain , interpreting what falls on the rods and cones in our eyes.
There is a comparison of patterns, before the human brain decides what it is that we are seeing. For example, the banana is always seen as yellow, regardless of what light you see it in; dull light, brilliant reflections on ice, or a normal kitchen light. The power of the visual brain. To give it a fancy name, "Color constancy".
Somewhere in our evolution , as we spruced up our cerebral cortex , wallowed and exulted the grey folds of the brain, , and learned to store, interpret , retrieve, and use information, in complicated decision making, we have become color obsessed with respect to a certain part of the spectrum. It is a classic case of having too much, too soon, so that we have no value for what we have.
A widely versatile cerebral cortex, a fine tuning of the senses, and an ability to reason, may have been a gift to mankind.
But there has been a downside.
We, as humans, have sharpened our color consciousness in the brown/black/white range. We have trained the cones in our eyes to pay more attention to wavelengths that correspond to the making up of the above colors. Thousands of years of paying excessive attention to the complexion in humans, and we have become a society , that, despite declarations to the contrary, pays obeisance to the white.
Yes , we still sense the brilliant plumage of the birds, the sometimes blinding colors amidst the flowers, and the amazing hues and textures of man made textiles and materials, but when when it comes to judging a human, a certain part of the visual brain kicks in with its, if I might say so, 'blind' input.
And so, television is replete with dark girls slathering faces with creams to cheat someone else's visual cortex; employers frowning at dark complexioned girls, and smilingly awarding jobs , albeit unfairly, to "fair" types; a pregnant pause happens, on telephonic matrimonial enquiries, when a prospective bride is described as wheatish, and some parents advise parents of physically active sports girls, to desist from the sports , because their daughter will turn "dark".
These days, I guess the cerebral cortex is really working hard in evolving. The male of the species, has exposed its vanity , and there are creams and lotions for fellows who want to look "white", so that girls who subscribe to this same vanity, can stand around and make a huge fuss over them, in what might just be called, dumb splendor.
You can evolve only thus far and no more when the direction is in error, which here it seems to be.
And so I agree with the fellows in Cambridge. We have reached a dead end in smartness. We cannot evolve any more in the direction that we have.
Maybe the homo sapien version 2.0, will be in various hues. Like in animals, we will have blue, green, purple and blue people. Folks will be more appreciative of color, and the minds will be more open . I would love to know what kind of ads there will be on television, celebrating beauty then. I would have a great big laugh at matrimonial ads , if they actually exist then.
And there will possibly a be a Great Big Bird sweeping through the sky, looking down at all the color, shaking its head, and saying, " Geez. I thought these guys would never understand. Thank God they did !..."