Evolutionary Developmental Biology For The Developmentally Retarded
This page is part of a rough story board for an animation project, it has been lying around for a couple of years waiting for resources to bring it to life... in the ever lasting meantime it may help by providing a simplified context re our symbiotic origins. The page title is not as offensive as it first seems, it is circular, if the outline below is an accurate account of our history then our neural system and development generally is inevitably very seriously retarded. Without taking the unique evolutionary context of our origins into account the objective data and observations regarding our current functioning particularly in regard to our perception will not and cannot make sense. Unfortunately nor will our subjective ability to figure out why this is the case unless we look very carefully at and begin to factor in what the data is telling us...
Evolutionary Developmental Biology For The Developmentally Retarded
Why Oral Sex Made Us Smart
Why We Are Quite Literally The Symbiotic Love Children Of The Forest
Our unique physiology and extraordinary perceptual equipment (our brain) was not exclusively or even primarily the result of classic adaptive selection. Our DNA and the ‘primitive’ survival orientated asymmetric neural structures it always builds were immersed and hot housed in the most chemically complex developmental environment in the whole of biological evolution. It took the combined molecular engineering power of many tens of the most advanced biochemical factories (flowering plants) own hormonally rich developmental environments (fruit) to do the job. The convergence of their advanced biochemical ‘know how’ all focused in one place was necessary to design, construct and operate the most complex piece of molecular engineering we know, our own neural system. Symbiotic evolution at the developmental level, an exceptionally rare phenomena and totally unique in evolutionary history so not exactly surprising that what emerged was correspondingly rare, phenomenal and totally unique.
Developmental environments are utterly unique, molecular design, engineering and construction sites. The molecular ecology of developmental environments specifically evolved to thoroughly transcribe (read) DNA in precisely orchestrated steps and windows. A major part of the transcription of DNA code into biological structure is under the influence of hormones. The concentration, gradients and ratios of hormones effectively dictate the precise molecular configurations and cellular architecture that facilitates life. Developmental environments are also provided with a complex bio-chemical cocktail in order to supply the molecular build materials for a whole new organism. The DNA molecule is essentially the same whether of plant or animal origin and is transcribed in the same basic manner via hormonally active compounds.
In mammals your typical developmental environment is the uterus. The DNA blueprint is immersed in an extremely powerful cocktail of hormones dominated by steroids, oestrogens and androgens such as testosterone. These hormones effectively dictate the transcription of the DNA code and its expression into structure. To translate the DNA code into structure the developmental environment is well supplied by construction materials, a precise yet constantly evolving biochemical mix with everything delivered in sequence to build new life. In mammals the developmental environment is extended via breastfeeding. Breast milk is a hormonally rich, nutritionally dense bio-chemical cocktail specifically tailored to each species developmental requirements. In the case of fruit-eating primates, the uterus and breast milk were variably infused by the flowering plants hormonally rich developmental cocktail.
A typical mammalian developmental environment
In flowering plants oddly enough, the flower is the developmental environment, again hormonally rich and phenomenally biochemically complex, necessary to fully translate the genetic code and reproduce the precise molecular structure and configuration that generates new life. What we call seeds are the ingeniously and highly compressed new generation of plants in an embryonic form, just add water and the new structure unfolds and expands.
Fruit is a highly specialised form of the plant developmental environment, the product of millions of years of symbiotic evolution with animals including primates.
A typical flowering plant developmental environment.
A more familiar example, the sex organ and developmental environment of a tomato.
Symbiotic relationships between plants and animals are very common and not all revolve around sex. For example, several species of ants have developed relationships with acacia trees. The ants protect the trees from attack and competition and in return are provided with shelter and food specifically produced by the trees for their services.
Pollination by insects such as bees is perhaps the most well known relationship, through which the male sperm cells inside the pollen grains are transported to the female sex organ (pistil). The bee is rewarded by a sugar rich liquid (nectar) and/or some of the pollen.
Symbiotic evolution can result in each species becoming increasingly interdependent with the lines blurring between the physiology, structure, form and function of each species, eventually resulting in a new symbiotic organism.
Who is on top, or who is taking whom for a ride?
The bee and tongue orchids lure bees and wasps with the promise of sex in order to complete their own reproductive cycles. Many of us have become used to the idea that humans are the most neurologically advanced and intelligent members of the animal kingdom while comparisons between the intelligence of animals and plants don’t even warrant a mention. Through adaptive selection the orchid bee and wasp have been physiologically shaped, sculpted and woven into each others life cycle to the point where the insects have become little more than the orchids mobile reproductive appendage. Something even more bizarre happened during our well-documented co-evolution with flowering plants. Not only was our physiology shaped by classic adaptive selection as is typical for symbiotic relationships, a far more powerful 'fast track' mechanism was initiated that eventually resulted in runaway feedback loop of rapid physiological evolution.
The direct modification of our major design/transcription systems, our neuro-endocrine system and developmental environment by a perpetual flood of the plants own hormonally rich developmental biochemistry.
Animal DNA alone did not design what we smugly consider to be our advanced neural system and related intelligence. Our animal genome lacks the complex code to produce the necessary complexity of transcription factors to design build and operate anything more than a relatively primitive survival orientated neural system. It took a combination of many highly complex plant genomes pumping the most complex transcription cocktail ever to re-design and re-engineer our primitive neural system by re-interpreting our primitive DNA code and creating an increasingly entangled symbiotic organism, part animal (primitive), part plant (highly advanced).
Eating insects, the flowering plants pollinators, co-evolving into a specialised pollinator then a large brained intelligent fruit eating seed disseminator, seems a well established route to plant-animal symbiosis.
From insects and feathered reptiles to flying mammals and primates, the flowering plants have shaped the anatomy and physiology of many species. When it involves the unique symbiotic association based on the ingestion of sex/developmental organs a relatively large complex brain with high cognitive function is remarkably common result. The greater the degree of specialisation or symbiotic convergence between plant developmental environments and neural developmental/operating environment the greater the effect.
Uncensored pictures of sex organs!
A small selection of angiosperm developmental environments each species is genetically and therefore hormonally and chemically unique. Forming a symbiotic relationship with many tens of species results in a complexity of hormones and developmental bio-chemistry that is generally way beyond what any individual species can produce in isolation.
The degree to which this can happen and have a significant evolutionary impact is limited by availability. The geographically restricted non-seasonal lowland tropical forests are the only ecosystems that can support such a rare evolutionary scenario as this is the only place where plant developmental environments are available 24/7 over evolutionary time scales. The degree to which one specialises in the consumption of developmental environments is another. Any such relationship would have a major impact of the physiology of the symbiont and leave very significant clues if the relationship ever broke down.
In an evolutionary sense our distant ancestors the fruit-eating primates got into bed with the flowering plants, seduced by flowers and sweetened drug-laden treats, a heady cocktail indeed. The romance blossomed and we are the symbiotic love children of that union and perhaps not surprising that it is still an effective ploy today.
"Alright darlin, you look good enough to eat"
Our distant ancestor took an interest in the sexual organs of plants (phytophilia?), initially it may have been ingesting the nutrient rich pollen or the chemically rich flower petals. This served the plant well as similar co-evolutionary strategies for efficient pollination were being established with many potential suitors.
Either way the relationship flourished and moved beyond pollination to seed dispersal with the plants sex organs expanding and colouring up in response (colour vision). Now the reward was more substantial, a free meal of swollen ovary rich in developmental hormones and depending on the species some of the nutrient dense seeds. Plants were already trading sugar for favours in the form of nectar. Adding sugar to the mix was no problem and for mammals with fuel hungry neural systems it would turn out to be more than just a treat.
As the number of flowering plant species proliferated an increasing number opted for paying for sexual favours with a drug-loaded meal. The arrangement was so successful that the plants competed with each other for business, unashamedly flaunting larger and more gaudily coloured organs. This opened up the possibility of becoming increasingly specialised in the eating of developmental environments. Selective adaptation was at work with both parties, the seed disseminators were finding their niche and with plants the pressure was on to come up with the goods.
In addition to this increased specialisation via selective adaptation the consumption of developmental environments was not without direct effect. An increasingly complex flood of plant hormones were diluting and inhibiting the animal hormones and directly reading the animal DNA. This resulted in changes in the physiological structure and developmental windows, subtle at first but more significant as the symbiotic relationships evolved.
So after a long time together we see in some species of sex organ eating seed disseminators a very close co-evolutionary and increasingly symbiotic relationship, the result of feasting on a veritable smorgasbord of sex organs for breakfast, lunch and tea everyday over evolutionary time scales. This exceptionally unusual and unique scenario infused our ancestors with the distinct hormone regimes of many species of plants. Aside from developing traits via classic adaptive selection in response to this increasingly specialised role the seed dissiminators were being directly modified by the hormonal and chemical effects of a heady body and mind altering cocktail
The symbiotic evolution of developmental environments resulted in the inhibition of the relatively primitive mammalian hormone environment. The typical sex steroid mediated developmental environment that had been honed to perfection in its production of an extremely effective survival organism was being progressively modified. The highly efficient though cognitively and perceptually 'primitive' neural system was particularly responsive to any change in hormonal regime. The effect of shifting the balance from mammalian hormone regime towards a plant hormone regime extended the developmental windows and modified the structure of neural cells resulting in an increasingly undifferentiated neural architecture. The increasingly advanced neural system was able to facilitate traits not typical of survival only systems as ‘primitive’ neural architecture generally can only facilitate conditioned behaviour and limited self-awareness. As the unique symbiotic neural system evolved, high cognitive function, awareness of being self aware and a deep sense of empathy became increasingly hard wired into the structure that effectively dictates perception. In addition the rapidly expanding neo-cortex acquired the capacity to directly experience the perpetually fluidic and fractal nature of reality and interact real time without the constraints of relatively primitive programmed responses.
While the debate regarding our origins continues, the solution is staring us in the face. Large complex neural systems are almost exclusively the result of a hormonally modified developmental environment. Large complex neural systems such as the bonobo brain pictured above are exceptionally rare in the whole of biological evolution yet occur in relative abundance in the tropical forests where a significant degree of fruit eating is possible. Many extant and extinct species of ape and hominids that show at least some physiological adaptation to fruit have unusually large brains. The correlation with increased specialisation in fruit and a larger brain is fairly consistent. So an utterly unique symbiotic formula that produces very large, very complex, highly intelligent neural systems exists yet is ignored when the question of our own origins is debated.
It is hardly a giant leap to get from the bonobo brain pictured above to the human brain below yet we cant seem to make that simple step, a clue perhaps?
So is this the only formula guaranteed to produce intelligent large complex self-aware neural systems? Probably not, some of the cetaceans have arrived at a similar place via a different route and some birds particularly some members of the crow family seem cognitively very sharp without a huge brain and so on. However large and complex neural systems are exceptionally rare in the fossil record but add a significant amount of developmental hormones from plants (fruit) and it seems as near a guaranteed formula as one gets. While evidence for large complex neural systems in any environment or ecology is almost absent, in the tropical forest where there is available fruit, they almost seem as common as if they grew on trees.
Note to self, build me an all singing all dancing self aware self recognition system.
A brief summary in pictures outlining the evolution of ever more complexity,
an essential requirement to design, build and operate one of these.
The most advanced perceptual lens this side of the Milky Way, the most complex thing we know.
Typical mammalian DNA Combination of plant developmental environments Voila! here is one prepared much earlier.
What the evolutionary data is telling us is that our ancestors merged and formed a unique symbiotic organism at the developmental environment level and that quite literally changes everything. The genetically encoded anatomy and physiology, the product of classic adaptive selection will vary in its resistance to being hormonally re-engineered. Somewhat obviously the physiological systems and structures that are most hormonally sensitive will exhibit the greatest response. Reprogramming and re-designing the hormonally sensitive neuro-endocrine system would speed up the integration and assimilation. The biochemistry in plant developmental environments does just that, resistance is futile.
Perpetual state of gestation.
Our primitive developmental environment was hijacked, and we were kidnapped, re-designed and re-engineered by the combined developmental environments of the most chemically advanced species in evolutionary history. We were then plugged permanently into the plants developmental environment and held in a perpetual state of gestation.
No surprise that we still exhibit juvenile features (neoteny) and a long period of development (necessary for a large complex neural system) though these traits are rapidly reversing.
This is the central element so read carefully... from the umbilical cord to breast, from breast to breast and pedicel combined then finally exclusively pedicel (the plants umbilical cord), the shift from the increasingly modified 'primitive' developmental environment to plant developmental environment would have resulted in a final phase of exceptionally advanced neural architecture.
This became our perminant operating environment and the unique symbiotic structures that emerged were entirely dependent on and integral to the symbiotic organism. From the end of breast-feeding the final phase of neural development was designed, constructed and permanently operated by the combined plant developmental environments alone. Specifically, our neo-cortex the proliferation of exquisitely advanced neural architecture that finally reached sufficient complexity for self-recognition plus a whole array of phenomenal abilities is, in sci-fi terminology, the symbiont child of the forest.
The assimilation process in simple steps.
The move from a progressively modified mammalian developmental environment to being perpetually immersed in a confluence of hormonally rich plant developmental environments.
Placenta is a partial filter to symbiotic assimilation and neural modification/augmentation, it maintains the archaic/primitive developmental environment. However the placenta is permeable and progressive infusion with plant developmental hormones began to dilute the primitive steroid rich environment and brought a cocktail of new DNA reading ‘designer drugs’ into the developmental environment.
In addition the plants worked around this filter, incrementally modifying our own neuro-endocrine system in such a way that amplified some of the effects of the plant developmental hormones. This was done by elevating the activity of our pineal gland, some of the very same groups of plant developmental chemicals are also neuro-active and directly stimulate the pineal to produce more melatonin and pinoline further modifying the ‘primitive’ developmental environment.
Breast milk, more easily/directly influenced by plant developmental hormones i.e. the chemical profile of breast milk is heavily influenced by what is being ingested by the mother.
Then plug the partially modified symbiont directly into the combined plant developmental environments of many species via the equivalent of the plant umbilical cord, the pedicel, for the final phases of development and lifelong operating environment over evolutionary time scales.
As the symbiotic developmental environment evolved increasingly modified by the infusion of plant developmental hormones everything that evolved or emerged in that environment was structurally and functionally dependent on its maintenance and would be increasing susceptible to a return to archaic steroid regime, that is exactly what has happened.
The end of our symbiotic relationship was as damaging as any premature birth is today. Torn apart from our bio-chemically rich and highly protective developmental environment the physiological structures that were most symbiotic in their origins were most vulnerable to exposure from the hormone regime that would have prevented their emergence in the first place. The most hormonally sensitive parts of our physiology would be the most responsive, our hormonally governed reproductive mechanisms, our hormonally sensitive immune system and of course our highly sensitive neural system, particularly during its early development.
The massive proliferation of relatively undifferentiated neural cells, the neo-cortex, that emerged in the increasingly modified, steroid inhibited developmental environment will also regress. When the symbiosis ended and the archaic steroid regime re-asserts its influence the proliferation stalls and accelerating expansion turns to contraction. The 'advanced' complex architecture begins to erode, the degeneration is inevitably asymmetric.
The pictorial summary below provides a simplified context regarding the origins of our symbiotic evolution. This inevitably resulted in the progressive modification of our ancestral developmental environment by the combined developmental environments of many flowering plant species. It also demonstrates how the loss of the symbiosis would inevitably impact on any physiological changes that occurred during the symbiotic union ie the proliferation of our neo-cortex with its advanced neural architecture and advanced perceptual capability.
(pdf version of pictorial summary)
The Expansion & Degeneration of Human Consciousness, Tony Wright, ECR.
Consciousness in Science & Philosophy, Uni. Of E. Illinois, Nov. 1998.
Being that we are all custodians of the most complex neural/perceptual system to have evolved or been created we are all faced with some very simple choices. We can choose to continue to regress to an ever more primitive state. This is an engineering no-brainer, by designing a structurally, functionally and perceptually ever more primitive neural system, constructing it from the worst imaginable materials and keeping it chronically deficient in the highly complex neuro-chemical fuel it requires for normal function, job done.
Alternatively we can choose with immediate effect to begin repairing and partially accessing the last relics of the highly advanced cellular architecture. This will provide at the very least brief glimpses of a profoundly enhanced sense of self with permanent residual effects. The knowledge already exists, the basic formula for restoration is very very simple and when applied judiciously will rapidly transform the living nightmare we think is normal into an experience our ancestors alluded to in terms of rapture, joy, love and a deep sense of empathy.
Expecting to change our current behaviour/perception while doggedly and even legislatively maintaining the primitive neural architecture and neuro-chemical regime that effectively dictates our current behaviour/perception is a measure of how insane we have become. It is about as stupid as expecting to get a colour picture on a black and white TV by shouting at it. Access the remaining functional structure and begin repairing the damaged structure and your behaviour/perception is absolutely guaranteed to change every time or your money back.
So more of the same so we can pay for more of this or something so much better that mere words can only allude to, it is up to you, a difficult choice only if you are already seriously insane.
You might well ask yourself whether this is all simply conjecture, where is the evidence etc? Well the key components are no more than ‘high school’ biology, well-evidenced basic principles and data. All that is new is the context, the way the data has been woven together into a simple and coherent picture that can address many long standing enigmas and provide ‘objective’ insights into what appear to be circular questions regarding our perceptual and cognitive function.
The remotest possibility that our neural system is even slightly compromised let alone severely retarded should evoke an immediate emergency response. If the broad spectrum initial support for this ‘discovery’ is not sufficient to motivate you to do your own checking then it simply confirms the basic diagnosis, we are now too stupid to help ourselves and its just too late.
However if you have any inkling at all that something isn’t quite right then get off your arse and do something about it because absolutely everyone is very badly affected and there ain’t no cavalry coming over the hill.
Introductory reference material below, elsewhere on this site and in the downloads section at Left in the Dark.
A few clicks on Google will bring up all the data you will need to confirm the diagnosis, there are hundreds of academic papers confirming the basic data. Just be wary of the myriad of conflicting, contradictory and ultimately idiotic interpretations of that same data, exactly as the data would predict. Every key element of this outline is very well evidenced by orthodox data, it is mostly very basic biology.
It is really this simple.
‘Radically shift the development environment from that of a typical animal towards that of a typical plant (a massive shift) via a symbiotic union. The molecular and cellular structure that the developmental environment dictates cannot possibly be anything other than radically modified, shift the developmental environment back towards that of a typical animal and the molecular and cellular structure the developmental environment dictates will inevitably revert’ end of.
DNA (foetal and maternal) the blueprint for all the molecular scale bioengineering is exactly what the developmental biochemistry found in plant developmental environments (fruit) evolved to read.
Steroids and aromatase (foetal and maternal), central players in developmental biology and key factors in neural development including cerebral asymmetry. Their activity is heavily modified, diluted and generally inhibited by the developmental biochemistry found in plant developmental environments (fruit)
Neuro-endocrine system (foetal and maternal) central in the regulation of all development, particularly the brain and cerebral asymmetry. The neuro-endocrine system is highly sensitive and responsive to the developmental biochemistry found in plant developmental environments (fruit)
Try typing in flavonoids, amongst several other activities they can read DNA in turn affecting everything else, this one paper alone should be enough if you can grasp the evolutionary context, flavonoids change the way even the most important developmental genes are read, flavonoids flooded our system for millions of years now they do not.
Hundreds of flavonoids as well as many other groups of hormonally and bio-chemically active plant compounds were an integral part of our developmental and operating environment 24/7 for evolutionary time scales.
Flavonoids regulate gene transcription
Google search link
Flavonoids are monoamine oxidase inhibitors
Google search link
Flavonoids are antioxidants