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Improbable Destinies

Jonathan Losos

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The octopus has a better eye than we do. We have a blind spot because our eye is oriented 'backwards', and the visual nerve has to exit the eyeball. The octopus eye is much more sensible, with the nerves attached to the back of the photoreceptors. (If there were an intelligent designer, he apparently practiced on us humans before he created the better design for the octopus)

Adult cats are not adapted to drink milk , and will only sup if no alternative. 65% of human adults are lactose intolerant. Multiple human populations developed adult milk tolerance, but each employed a slightly different mutation. But each had same function - keeping lactose gene switched on.

Gould suggested that evo is a one way trip - if you could re-run the trip, you would end up with a different outcome. But multiple studies show that isolated species tend to evolve to fit all available niches. And if the basic conditions are similar, the different species evolve very similar characteristics.

Mammals only just made it through the C-T extinction. To see what the world might have been like if they hadn't, look at NZ. The only mammals are three bat species, but even thesea are weird. Unlike other bats, they happily scamper across the forest floor, foraging for insects and fruit. Jarred Diamond called them the bat family's attempt to evolve a mouse. In the absence of other mammals, birds have filled all the ecological niches normally taken by mammals.

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