Your feet look funny

This morning Scorpio dominates the pre-dawn Southern sky as it does when the moon is down.  It’s easy to see the pre-Roman Scorpio with claws extended.  Such a strange and interesting shape the scorpion has.  Then again, the shape of human beings is even more interesting and strange, when you think about it.

african-animal-tracks-5216323Take our feet.  What are the toes for?  What purpose do they serve?  Feet just look like long flat boards attached to the bottom of legs. Horse hooves make a lot more sense.  Anatomists say that the hoof is the expansion and specialization of the middle of five digits at the end of each leg.  Goats and sheep have both the third and fourth digits turned into hard keratinous hooves.  Rhinoceroses have all three middle digits expanded into hoof-like toes.  The feet of these animals make a lot more sense than ours.

Walking on two legs also causes all sorts of other problems not seen in animals which walk on four legs: fractured hips, bunions, hernias, flat feet, fallen arches, torn menisci, shin splints, herniated disks, fractured vertebrae, scoliosis among others.  Makes you want to do some of the yoga poses which get you on all fours.

When you look inside our bodies, things get even stranger.  Why do babies have bigger heads than the diameter of the mother’s pelvic space.  Looking at the human skeleton, there is plenty of room for childbirth right between the ribs and the pelvis.  The place where obstetricians perform cesarean sections. Why aren’t we designed that way?

Four legged animals with relatively small baby heads, don’t have near the problems with birth that humans have.  Our insistence on walking on two legs has resulted in a reorientation of the pelvis which decreases the space for a huge head to go through.

Other anatomical details also cause problems.  Why does the optic nerve go through the retina creating a blind spot?  It doesn’t make sense to have eyes with a blind spot.  In other animals the optic nerve is behind the retina and they have no blind spot.

The development of the human embryo is even more fascinating.  Why does the embryo have a tail for much of its development?  Why does it have gill-like structures which eventually change into lungs?

Some who believe in evolution, especially evolutionary psychologists, believe in the tautology: “Whatever exists is adapted to exist”.  Then they search for evolutionary reasons why something exists.  The truth is much more complicated.

Sure we are similar to other animals in so many ways.  One embryological gene, called Pax6, illustrates this.  The role of this gene is to decree where an eye is going to be, in all species that have eyes. Astonishingly, researchers took Pax6 from a mouse, and stuck it in a fruit fly whose own Pax6 was broken. Lo and behold, the fly’s error was corrected and it grew eyes. Fly eyes, not mouse eyes.

But our species has a unique way of using basic building blocks to create civilizations and inventions.  We humans are so unique in many ways that we are tempted to think we are entitled to use and abuse Nature as we like.  We start to see Nature as the enemy which we must conquer.  When civilizations, inventions and even families get divorced from nature, problems come rolling in.

One example of that lies in our immune systems.  Until recently our immune systems coped with a very dirty world.  Our immune system was responsible for defeating all the invading organisms in that world.  In the modern world, we kill 99.9% of germs in the household and children’s immune systems don’t have much to do.  So, some contend, they start creating various allergies, celiac disease,  hay fever, and maybe even multiple sclerosis and autism.

The solution is to raise our kids in nature–on farms and in the woods.  That’s what we try to do at Meadowcreek: get as many children into the woods as we can.  And introduce them to all the diversity of Nature.  Nothing is more fascinating.

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