Brain Canvas

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Your Body is a DNA Factory

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As Human Beings, its very easy to trick ourselves into thinking that the evolution of life on Earth was nothing more than a 3 Billion year development project finally culminating in us. I believe the story goes something like this: “A really long time ago, for reasons that nobody knows, an amoeba appeared. Then a while later there were trilobites and other weird fish beetles. Then came dinosaurs. They died. Next came monkeys that gradually stood up taller. Then the Egyptians. Then us. Game Over.” Its a pretty convenient way to think about the history of life, and it of course places special attention on us, the destined outcome. Even to those with a more educated understanding of life on Earth, the tendency is there to think of these billions of years as careful trial and error in the perfection of the physical traits and biological processes necessary to create us. “Some cells mutated that accidentally gave an advantage to one individual, who passed on that trait, and over time its progeny replaced their forebears.” Its a pretty straightforward explanation and I think a fairly standard recap of your average high school biology lesson on natural selection. But consider this, from “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson: “Ninety Seven percent of your DNA consists of nothing but long stretches of meaningless garble – “junk,” or “non-coding DNA,” as bio-chemists prefer to put it. Only here and there along each strand do you find sections that control and organize vital functions.” The amazing thing is that the 97% that serves no function still replicates itself like the other pieces of DNA and is passed on to our offspring. DNA is such a basic and vital part of bio-chemistry, but there is only such a small portion that actually benefits us in any way. So, did our physical traits and biological processes evolve to suit us, or did we evolve to perpetuate their existence? What if each evolutionary leap forward was not the next step down the inevitable road to Homo Sapiens but was rather simply provided an advantage to the survival of the host vessel for our DNA? If we accept this as truth, then we must accept the chilling reality that there really is no purpose to life greater than the reproduction and continuation of that life.

Written by Andrew

March 24th, 2010 at 5:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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