introns and evolution/higher and lower

scarr at kean.ucs.mun.ca scarr at kean.ucs.mun.ca
Fri Mar 11 04:49:56 EST 1994


In article <2lna0t$6j7 at inxs.concert.net>, morgan at rock.concert.net (Morgan J Ryan -- Neil Patterson Publishers) writes:
> 
> 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
> 
> 
> 
Not to belabor the point, but 'higher' clearly implies 'more North' (cf.
DownUnder). As none of our humanned-spacecraft have gone 'up' in polar
orbit, they have the record for 'outer' but not 'higher'. I conclude that
the northern-most Redwood and Giraffe are the 'highest organisms'.

BTW, don't ask on a vertebrate biology mid-term, "Which is the largest
order of mammals?" Expecting 'Rodentia', you'll be told 'Cetacea' as often 
as not.

This is better than grading

Steve

*********************************************************************
Steven M. Carr
Dept. of Biology
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's NF A1B 3X9
CANADA

(709) 737-4776 office / -4713 lab / -4000 FAX
scarr at kean.ucs.mun.ca
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