Badass Sci Fi Loves Lucy- The Evolution of Opposable (Minds)- Part 3
Here it is, the post you’ve all been waiting for. After a crude lesson on human evolution and an introductory course on anatomy and physiology of the opposable thumb, it’s finally time to enter the realm of the ridiculous.
Rise of the Homo sapiens ‘Trait Package’
All right, it’s the first round, and I’m taking a dive. Rabbit holes, information overload, and the accursed Quora had me against the ropes.
Therefore, let’s do this. I won’t make any definitive statements, and you won’t call BS every time I leave a window cracked. Deal? What? My statement about not making any definitive statements was a definitive statement? BS.
Anyway, no general consensus exists surrounding correlation and causation between opposable thumbs and intelligence. Hell, we can’t even agree on the characteristics of intelligence.
Additionally, if we consider bipedalism and language, causation muddles further. No one can say with 100% certainty which traits evolved first and how they affected the other traits. No one…with 100% certainty.
Remember that little graphic on hominid evolution from a couple posts back?
Well, it probably looks more like this.
Looking at general trends starting with our hypothetical chimp-human last common ancestor six-plus million years ago, we see the simultaneous increase in traits that, taken collectively, comprise Homo sapiens.
Which traits arose first and to what extent belies human evolution and eventual speciation. Obviously, these traits evolved concurrently.
I’m sorry. I believe bipedalism, brain size, temperature regulation, language, and our uniquely dexterous hand, while not necessarily dependent on one another for successful expression, coalesced in such a way as to maximize the effectiveness of each.
Trait Package-Brain Size Causation
So, say your brain is like a mainframe (No, really? Your brain is like a computer? Calm down). And your traits are accessories, add-ons, widgets, plugins, you name it. Additionally, the traits helping an organism survive in its environment and pass genetic material to the next generation are adaptations.
Certainly, some inherited adaptations; amount of hair, temperature, regulation, and blushing, require little or no conscious coordination with the brain to successfully express. They just are.
But Homo sapiens’ ultimate upgrade suite of accessories; bipedalism, language, and opposable thumbs, requires an enormously powerful and sophisticated brain.
Isolating Opposable Thumb Functionality-Brain Size Correlation
Again, regardless which trait evolved to its current state, I believe opposable thumbs and brain size share the strongest and most significant correlation.
We could get into the whole which came first, the opposable thumb or the mental capacity to use it argument, but I’m pretty sure the first genetically speciated chicken incubated in one of the last chicken ancestor eggs.
Anyway, first of all, an advanced brain isn’t going to expend the energy to learn how to use something that doesn’t exist. Honestly, if someone parked a trailer of Snap-On, rocket, artificial heart, turbo encabulator retrofitting tools in front of your house, would you know how to use them right away?
So, at some point, our ancestors were upgraded to the junior opposable thumb model.
After that, clever individuals instructed it to pick up a rock and use it as a tool, or a weapon, or, like I mentioned before, simply balled their state of the art add-on into a fist and bludgeoned their brethren.
Secondly, our grand ancestors learned to use their nifty, versatile hands to convey meaning, or transfer imagination to others. As a result, we can trace the origin of gestures such as
👍, 🤙, 🤘, 🖕, 🤞, 🖖, ✌️, 🤏, and 👉👌
to millions of years ago.
Thus, I believe we see a strong, linear correlation between opposable thumb functionality, brain size, and cognitive ability as evidenced by ever increasing complexity of tools and language (signing, verbal, and writing).
From Somewhat Hypothetical to Purely Speculative
Still, the reliability of the evidence supporting the opposable thumb-brain size correlation varies . However, even if the evidence was irrefutable, the dual progression has taken millions of years to reach its current state.
Now, if we work with the trailer of Snap-On, rocket, artificial heart, turbo encabulator retrofitting tools analogy, what would happen if we installed state of the art opposable thumb components on, say, a cat?
Well, I submit we would trigger a phenomenon known as artificial punctuated quantum hyper-evolution, which is just techno-babble for enormous, instantaneous evolutionary leaps within one individual.
All right, you caught me. It’s a lazy amalgam of punctuated equilibrium and quantum evolution with a ‘hyper’ thrown in there.
Finally, now that we’ve fully vetted the mechanism for unlocking the brain’s superpowers, let’s see what it’s unleashed.
Clash of the Cognitively Actuated Titans
In the area of speculative evolution, there’s a faction believing all Homo sapiens (and possibly other species) will acquire paranormal psychic abilities at some point. However, no one knows how long it will take or which abilities will surface.
Here, we have two hypotheses posing alternatives to natural evolution. Let’s see which is the more plausible and effective.
Lucy Vs. Patton
Firstly, we see the baseline species skews the comparison. Consequently, the magnitude of augmentation isn’t absolute, but subject specific. For example, is a Homo sapiens achieving omniscience or a Felis catus achieving high sapient intelligence a greater augmentation? Additionally, is a Homo sapiens’ heightened instinct or a Felis catus’ heightened judgement more impressive?
Secondly, in Lucy’s case, we see rapid, uncontrollable cognitive expansion, whereas with Patton, we see a more tempered, developmental progression.
In conclusion, admittedly, some of Lucy’s powers go far beyond what the TOOTs provide. But alas, I believe…scratch that. Patton’s changes, and the change causing the changes, are not only far more feasible, but a hell of a lot more entertaining.
If you don’t believe me, check out Opposable!
Until next time, don’t bother me. I’m watching Lucy fight.