Charles Darwins Theory of Evolution (ToE) recently turned 150 years old. Before the ToE, we simply assumed that God made us. It has been a bit of a journey coming around to the observation that all forms of Life are inter-related and that we are simply a particular expression of Life’s journey on this planet. Currently, about 50% of Americans choose to believe that the ToE is a disprovable opinion, ignoring that the word (Scientific) Theory means undisprovable – not able to be proven false – which along with an enormous amount of supporting evidence, and testable premises, is as close to a fact as it is possible to get.
Evolution can be challenging to understand because it pervades every aspect of biology. In this website a very narrow perspective of evolution is tackled – our ancestral lineage. These are the creatures from which we evolved going back to the very beginning of life on earth over three billion years ago. However, when examining this lineage one can be easily confused by thinking that evolving means “turning into” – that the ancestors of vertebrates turned into the myriad of sea and land creatures that have a spine. While marginally correct, thinking this misses the central point that all living things can only change by adding additional competencies, not exchanging them, which would require a risky leap into the unknown rather than the sequential, incremental development which we observe in the fossil record. This refinement of the ToE is called Exaptation, which is a core premise that enables the connections that form the model presented in this website.
Take a brief stroll down the path our ancestors took to get here:
TREE OF LIFE WEBSITE
Life has been successful on our planet because embedded in its actions are underlying premises that work. One of these premises is the SEXUAL ARCHETYPE which is discussed on another page. Another premise is the Exaptation Archetype. Intrinsic to this archetype is that an organism does not change, but rather genetically duplicates successful code which can then be mutated. Because we reproduce/die even if 99.99% of these mutations are detrimental, .01% of creatures gain the opportunity to migrate down a novel path. It is obvious that this strategy over time works extremely well, having covered pretty much the whole of the planet with forms of life. It also seems likely that life would not have moved beyond a primordial soup of organic molecules without this archetype. It is key to understanding the archetypal nature of Exaptation that these mutations extend rather than replace pre-existing functions – inexorably field testing ever more complex forms of life. The word archetype is used here in the same way a function is used in a mathematical equation. If one could write an equation describing the force of life it would proveably include (but not be limited to) the functions which are described here as Archetypes. The other primary Archetype know to this author which is required for living systems is the DEATH ARCHETYPE .
Understanding exaptation can greatly clarify the study of human neurology and physiology. When we view our human condition from the top down, as we are habituated to do, it can be challenging to recognize the layers of the underlying foundation that were successful enough to enable experimentation with more complex forms. This website attempts to present human neurology and physiology from the bottom up, examining the contributions of our ancestors from the most ancient, to the most recent. The neurology and physiology of each of these layers are still integrated as a whole, although the functions of each layer are moderated by more complex, more recent adaptations. As we develop as infants we work through the process of integrating each layer, and by the age of two, we are busy learning to manage these evolutionary paradigms holistically as the mechanism of expression of our intent.
If this process of integration is incomplete before we move on to integrating more recent evolutionarily layers, whatever level of integration we have attained is frozen as it becomes established as the foundation for integrating more complex functions. A very common example is the child who begins walking before the underlying crawling reflexes have fully matured. When we observe dysregulation in a child and additionally discover that their crawling reflexes are not fully developed, guiding further maturation of these reflexes will assist the child in better self-regulation. The tools which comprise this website assist with assessing and enabling focused maturation of specific evolutionary layers. Exaptation is an insight that facilitates understanding why these tools, and more fundamentally, how we work.