[Taxacom] human eyes & ectoparasites

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Wed Jan 10 20:45:25 CST 2018


When Ken says "but it is not clear what actually drove the evolutionary
transition from claws to nails.  It could be something involved in grasping
and locomotion in trees." the real question is whether anything 'dives' a
particular transition. Again the appeal and mysticism of teleology is once
again evident and it is what keeps evolution outside science.

John Grehan

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On Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 9:07 PM, Kenneth Kinman <kinman at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Derek,
>
>        I see that Furtive Fauna was published over 20 years ago.  I
> suspect the reason you have never run across that hypothesis before is that
> it probably didn't have much going for it and it just faded away.  Having
> good near-vision probably came first, and that later enabled them to become
> better ectoparasite groomers (not the other way around).  It's a bit like
> saying birds developed feathers in order to fly, but we now know feathers
> probably first evolved for insulation (although I have suggested a possible
> even earlier advantage of feathers if they first evolved on the tail and
> that  may have helped bird's dinosaur ancestors in predator evasion, i.e.
> please attack my attractive but expendable tail, rather than my head).
>
>        And I can't see any "obvious consequences" for the origin of
> written language or civilization.  I don't think there was anything
> particularly tiny about the earliest written words, numbers or characters.
> Not nearly as tiny as lice or fleas.
>
>                ----------------Ken
>
> P.S.  Having flattened nails (instead of claws like other mammals) seems
> to also make primates better ectoparasite groomers, but it is not clear
> what actually drove the evolutionary transition from claws to nails.  It
> could be something involved in grasping and locomotion in trees.
>
> ________________________________
> From: Taxacom <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> on behalf of Derek
> Sikes <dssikes at alaska.edu>
> Sent: Wednesday, January 10, 2018 11:22 AM
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: [Taxacom] human eyes & ectoparasites
>
> All,
>
> I was just reading Roger Knutson's 'Furtive Fauna' in which was an
> interesting hypothesis I hadn't come across before and wonder if anyone
> knows more about it.
>
> Our ability to see small things close up (such as text) resulted from
> generations of ectoparasite grooming. Had our distant ape ancestors not had
> to deal with ectoparasites our eyes might not be very good at near-vision
> (with obvious consequences for the origin of written language and rise of
> civilization).
>
> Knutson stated it factually, but the book has no in-text citations and it's
> not clear where he got the idea.
>
> I don't know much about the near-vision ability of vertebrates to know how
> likely this hypothesis is. Do non-grooming mammals have poor near-vision?
>
> I'm always looking for ways to explain to entomology students how the world
> might be different if arthropods hadn't dominated it, and this might be
> another example.
>
> Interested to hear other's thoughts on this.
>
> Thanks,
> Derek
>
>
> --
>
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