January 28, 2009

Human Evolution and Aesthetics

I once came across a report stating that research had shown the process of evolution for human beings had been increasing substantially in recent centuries. I believe that is because, basically revolution is through thousands of years of natural selection, and the choices given in this selection process have been significantly enhanced by the widespread communication between families, populations, and even races – an anthropoid may only choose its mate within a few miles from its habitat while nowadays people may happen to find their spouses on another continent. Individuals are better matched in a sense that the husband and wife are on the same or seemingly matchable level of education, social status, healthiness, appearance, etc.; therefore those who are disadvantaged are not very likely to find someone considerably better than them overall, thus less chances for their children’s (if any) survival; to the contrary, successful people may expect their descendents to abound. Given that the major characteristics of a person is 50% decided by their genes, and the way they are raised and educated also indisputably influence their lives, successful people tend to have children that flourish and vice versa. With the communication and cooperation between distant countries increasing, the evolution process will match up with it in an exponential manner.


Looking for one’s other half is not only rational thinking involving CV (and bank account) reviews; it also utilizes the most basic instincts every one of us possesses. For instance, the reason why men admire women with bigger breasts and hips is these features imply a better chance for the children’s survival and healthiness. Breasts are used to feed the baby, and the bigger the pelvis the longer the fetus can safely develop in the maternal body and the bigger the fetus’ head can be. These instincts in distinguishing a potential good mother are developed throughout history. Some, like the two mentioned above, are easy to reason out, while some are not.


Since childhood parents have been telling us to stand and sit straight with chest out. Many of us may find difficulty now and then in keeping such a position, and it was not all our fault. Apes, including humans, are born with the four physiological curves on our backbones, namely, the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and pelvic curves. The thoracic curve, concave forward and the longest amongst the four, is what makes it very difficult for us to be straight (I mean your spine, not your sexual preference). One may argue that it is reasonless for people to believe being straight in backbone is good-looking and attractive, as the thoracic curve is a feature we are born with and good for our physiological functioning. Well yes, it is good for our body as it reduces the pressure suffered by our vertebrae usually when we jump downward or run vigorously, so why people regard someone with spine not as bent (for this thoracic curve) attractive? Does the theory that people’s instincts regarding a good spouse are always for the better development of the child fail here? Not really. Even though it is obvious the advantage of the thoracic curve, there are disadvantages. The more bent the curve is, the shorter the height of the person. In the primitive world, being a shorty means inability to notice an approaching predator as soon as others, although such advantages are not as apparent in today’s society but they still exist. In addition to that, after comparison between the thoracic curves on humans and other apes, it is fairly easy to see that less curved vertebral column indicates better adaptation to the life on the ground (as opposed to on the tree), since tree life involves more jumping and falling that requires better flexibility. To further the argument, only by life on the ground can apes expand their population to the greater world outside the woods.


These are the morale behind chest-out-is-good I have found so far.

Photo by bluenot3