Friday, December 09, 2005

Let's look at that dismount again, shall we?

Shower-stall moment again. Found myself thinking of the famed phoenix-like rise of our mammal line from the flames of the Chicxulub meteor--or whatever catastrophic conflagration killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Do ya remember that moment in evolutionary history? When mammals became an evolutionary superpower and the dinosaurs fell flat on their faces? That's what biologists told my generation anyway. Now though we know that dinosaurs are all around us. Every last bird is a dinosaur descendant. So now who's looking golden? Us or eagles?

The meteor hit and the dinosaurs took to the skies. We dug holes and hid under bushes. How are we doing now? Can we fly? Not without illicit substances like aluminum. Which taxonomic nation competes in more events? Are mammals more diverse than birds?

Who's covered more ground? Meet more mammals than birds when you walk through the park?I don't think so. And thanks to Irene Pepperberg's obliging and erudite African Grey parrot, Alex, primates can't even claim to be the sole intellects in the room. Truth be told, Pythagoras was very nearly a parrot. If the natural selecting in the final rounds had only gone a little differently.

We can't go back to the K/T now and re-award the gold. But let's show a little humility. Everybody ought to get a medal just for being here.

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