introns and evolution/higher and lower

Morgan J Ryan -- Neil Patterson Publishers morgan at rock.concert.net
Thu Mar 10 09:14:53 EST 1994


Is "higher" really so bad? I'm reading the third edition of John 
Postgate's classic Microbes and Man (Cambridge, 1992). This guy loves the 
little critters, and he's not above higher/lower ("without them higher 
organisms would rapidly cease to exist" p. 14).
	The idea I see tossed around is that higher/lower refers to a
ladder of complexity/evolutionary status/nearness to divine mold, etc. 
That _would_ be a problem. But the term "higher" is fairly handy if you
use it to mean _distance above the ground_. Hence higher plants are those
with vascular structure. Higher animals are those with legs, the longer
the better. The categories don't resolve any deeper than, say, two or
three levels below kingdoms. Humans, of course, keep their status as the
highest organism, since they had the stuffing to hoick themselves off into
orbit, thus winning the World Champion Organism belt, embossed with the
motto "veni, vidi, corpus linqui" ("I came, I saw, my body left the
planet.")
	I'm glad that's settled. 

Morgan Ryan / morgan at rock.concert.net






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