Evolution builds on ancestral forms. Changes accrete slowly. Gary Marcus in Nautilus: "But nor can we escape the fact that our minds are a modest tweak on an ancient plan that originated millions of years before we came onto the scene." Which raises the question: From an evolutionary aspect, what are the oldest parts of Homo sapiens? An organ? Something deep in the brain stem? Something vestigial?
Janna Levin, on the possibility of a finite universe: “There was a time in my research when I was obsessed with this idea. I was fixated on the implication that you could leave the earth and travel in a straight line to a planet in a distant galaxy on the edge of the observable universe and realize the galaxy was the Milky Way that you had left behind you, and the planet yo had landed on was the earth. There were also weirder possibilities that the earth was reconnected like a Möbius strip—if you took a left-handed glove on that same trip, it would come back right handed.”
There are musclebound greyhounds known as “bully whippets” who carry two genes that interfere with the production of myostatin, a protein that inhibits growth of muscle fibers. Geneticists suspect that the inhibitory function is to keep the size of muscles appropriate to the mammal’s motor functions. Interfere with the inhibitor and you get abnormal muscle mass. Dogs with the two genes are strong but slow. Greyhounds that contain only one copy of the myostatin gene, however, are fast, faster than dogs without the defect. Researchers have found what some call the speed gene—the myostatin gene—in champion race horses.
Thoroughbreds all derive from three stallions and about 30 mares listed in The General Studbook of 1791. The animals have been selectively bred ever since. In Dune, Frank Herbert invented the Bene Gesserit order, which directed the selective breeding over many generations of humans to create the Kwisatz Haderach. In the book, the Bene Gesserit ladies breed the old-fashioned way, without benefit of gene sequencers. Those crazy broads were old school.