I really enjoyed my morning walk this morning and getting down on the ground to get close to nature at that level. I was delighted I could capture the acorn the way I saw it up close. For me its easy to think of acorns and see them all scattered but down at this level, up close and personal, it feels full of hope and possibility. The word and feeling that came to me a I lay on the ground taking photos was Closeness.
(I’ve added in some photos from my walk and also I have managed to find the black and white setting on my camera!)
Once I’m away from this close level it seems my head takes over and I can easily get lost in thoughts and feelings that are not full of hope. All just different perspectives. Which is more real? I don’t know.
It has made me think of the different perspectives that we all live our lives by. One of those perspectives is that we are at the top of the food chain and that we evolved, in a linear fashion, up the tree of life to be at that top position. From recent scientific research it seems nothing could be farther from the truth. Barbara McClintock had completed seminal research in the 1940’s in this area on corn plants for which she was met with disbelief by scientists at the time and only got recognized with a Nobel Prize in 1983. How long it takes for major cracks in our belief systems to really take hold. A lot of interesting findings appeared a lot more recently though in 2007 and 2008 including the discovery of what scientists called SPINS (short for space invaders!), for a later blog!……lets get a simple start.
‘Horizontal gene transfer’ or HGT refers to the transfer of genes between organisms in a manner other than traditional reproduction.'(Wiki) – which means that gene transfer is not linear as had been thought. The genes are not only handed down from generation to generation but come from outside this, horizontally, even across species.
So what are the scientists saying?
“Recent discoveries of “rampant” HGT in microorganisms ….have forced biologists to question the accuracy of at least the early branches in the tree, and even question the validity of trees as useful models of how early evolution occurs.” (1)
Let’s take a breather here. This is huge stuff. For me this needs to be shared knowledge and not the sole domain of scientists. I do not suggest the scientists do this on purpose they simply are concentrating and focused on their work. I feel we need to stand back and see how such huge concepts as the the genetic linkages and closeness of just about all species has on how we live our lives. It should inform the choices we make and should at a basic level inform our beliefs. If we are living by concepts and beliefs that were put together years ago then lets change them based on what we are discovering. Lets not hold onto old beliefs like an old pair of comfortable shoes. Yes, getting used to the new shoes will be uncomfortable for a little while but then we will feel much better.
“Biologist Peter Gogarten reinforced these arguments, and suggested that the metaphor of a tree does not fit the data from recent genome research, and that biologists should instead use “the metaphor of a mosaic to describe the different histories combined in individual genomes and use [the] metaphor of a net to visualize the rich exchange and cooperative effects of HGT among microbes.” (1)
The scientists talk a lot about microbes but does it happen in humans? Well…it turns out “In Japan, some people’s gut bacteria have stolen seaweed-digesting genes from ocean bacteria lingering on raw seaweed salads”. (1)
And so it would seem there isn’t any clear single blood line for us humans to feel above and separate from everything else. There is more of a closeness to it. We contain within ourselves the DNA of plants, insects, bacteria and viruses.(2) How close can we get to everything else and how interrelated can we be. It feels truly like a mosaic rather than a tree.
Is it only me that feels this should be on the 6 o’clock news!
If we are that interrelated gene-wise then it does feel very supportive to me and gives me hope this morning to be a part of all that closeness.
I’d recommend getting on the ground and seeing the world from that ‘level’, we are a lot closer to it that we think.
PS. Maybe we could update some school textbooks so that children will have a more realistic ‘map’ of our evolution on which to base their beliefs and their lives.
From the magnificent Cilento nature reserve in Southern Italy,
2. Plant Intelligence And The Imaginal Realm. Stephen Harrod Buhner.