Copyright 1998Eubios Ethics Institute 1998. All commercial rights reserved. This publication may be reproduced for limited educational or academic use, however please enquire with the author. A printed version may become availbale in the future. NOTE the views of this book are not necessarily those of Eubios Ethics Institute, which promotes intellectual debate, but the views of the authors.
About the Authors
Dr. K.K. Verma
is Retired Professor of Zoology and Principal, Government P.G. Colleges. Did
his M.Sc. in Zoology with specialisation in Entomology from the Saugar
University, Sagar (India) in 1956. Soon afterwards he started his career as a
teacher in Zoology in the M.P. Government, Department of Higher Education.
Having taught his subject both at undergraduate as well as postgraduate levels
as Lecturer, Assistant Professor and then as Professor in different M.P. Govt.
Colleges, he was promoted as Principal in 1983, from which position he retired
Dr. Verma's research area has been "Insect Functional and Comparative Morphology". He was awarded Ph.D. by the Ravishankar University, Raipur (India) in 1967. He has to his credit more than 25 research papers published in national and international journals. He participated in the International Congress of Entomology at Hamburg in 1984 and at Vancouver in 1988.
After retirement he has developed interest in Bioethics, and has taken to popular scientific writing.
Saxena is a daughter and an intellectual companion of Dr. K.K. Verma. She did
her M.Sc. in Zoology with Entomology as the special branch from the Ravishankar
University, Raipur in 1985. After teaching her subject as Lecturer in M.P.
Government colleges for a few years, she gave up the job to join as Research
Associate for a UGC sponsored research project. On completion of the project in
1997 she again took to college teaching in Udaipur (Rajsthan).
Dr. Saxena's area of research has been biocontrol of insect pests of stored grains. She was awarded Ph.D. in 1989 by the Ravishankar University, Raipur. She has authored half a dozen published research papers.
The nine essays, included in this collection, have been written with a firm conviction that understanding Man* with his biological background helps in knowing him better. This approach enlightens us as to significance of Man in the living world, what he can do or overdo, and what errors he should avoid hereafter. Man has a lot of misconceptions about his own affairs, and the misunderstandings can be got rid of through biological understanding of him-self.
As has been vividly brought out by Crow (1970), Modern Man's view of himself has developed with growth of evolutionary biology and with understanding of mechanism of inheritance. Various other branches of Biology, such as Comparative Anatomy, Comparative Physiology, Biochemistry, Cell Biology and Ecology, have all contributed to the development of the views.
Efforts to understand Man have been made by several eminent biologists, Julian Huxley, Theodor Dobzhansky, J. B. S. Haldane and N. J. Berrill to name some. The essays, presented here are mostly an assimilation of the thoughts of these scientists, along with some sprinkling of our own interpretations.
Presentation of matter is almost nontechnical, so as to make it accessible even to readers with little familiarity with biological sciences.
* The term "Man" is used throughout this book as a synonym for human beings. It has no intention to be sexist in expression, including equally both male and female of humankind.
1.UNIQUENESS OF MAN
Man has always realized that he is a part of the living world. According to the ancient Vedantic philosophy "atman" or the life force moves from one "yoni" or level of organization to another. In stories of "Panchtantra" and Aesop's Fables human qualities were attributed to animals.
In the Middle Ages, when religion dominated Man's thinking, he regarded him-self as a superior being, far superior to other living forms. Gods were humanised. In the Christian scripture it was said that God had created Man out of his own image.
At about the middle of the last century an important event took place in the scientific world; Charles Darwin, in his book "Origin of Species" (1859) offered us the concept of organic evolution as a scientific theory. According to this theory living forms are not static; they change with the passage of time in order to become better adapted to the existing conditions. When this happens in populations of the same species, living in different areas with somewhat different conditions, this may lead to the populations becoming, in due course, different and new species. Similar views had been expressed by some biologists and thinkers before Darwin, but Darwin was the first to put forth these views adequately supported by a large mass of evidence.
Publication of Darwin's "Origin of Species" has been described as the most important event and a turning point in the history of Biology. The concept of evolution became generally accepted among people of science, following publication of the book, and in the next few years the entire science of biology underwent a rapid remoulding on the basic theme of organic evolution.
Charles Darwin wrote also a small book, "Descent of Man", which was published 12 years after the appearance of "Origin of Species". In this book the author described that, like other organisms, Man had been a product of evolution, and that he had descended from some primitive tree living apes, his closest living relative being the chimpanzee. Similar views had been presented by a strong supporter of Charless Darwin, Thomas Huxley in 1863 in his book, "Evidences as to Man's Place in Nature". With these publications Man came to be regarded as another product of evolution, as another animal species. Thus Man's opinion about his position in nature underwent a drastic change, from that of a very superior being, next to God in position to that of just another member of the Animal Kingdom.
The present century has witnessed a rapid progress in our understanding the mechanism of inheritance among organisms. Thus the branch of Biology, called Genetics, has developed fast. Growth of Genetics has helped a better understanding of the mechanism of evolution, as evolution is only descent with modification. This situation plus continued pondering among biologists on how Man differs from the remaining animal species has led to the realization that, while Man represents culmination of an evolutionary line among the mammalian order Primates, he has come to acquire during his evolution such unique features as make him stand quite apart from the rest of the Animal Kingdom. He is obviously the dominant living being on the planet at present. His dominance, as we shall realize it in course of these essays, is quite different from and much more pronounced than the dominance of dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era (i.e. the period of reptiles, which ended about 70 million years ago, and the duration of which is estimated to have been nearly 140 million years), or that of mammals in the early part of the Caenozoic Era (i.e. the current geological era, which started about 70 million years ago).
Man, a product of evolution
That Man is a product of evolution among animals and that he is a member of the Animal Kingdom cannot be doubted. Testing newly discovered drugs and pharmaceuticals on rats, guinea pigs and monkeys is done with the realization that Man has the same basic physiology as these animals. There is considerable fossil record to support the notion that Man has evolved from primitive ape-like ancestors, and that the living chimpanzee is the closest living relative of Man. In serological test anti-human sera are almost as strongly positive with chimpanzee blood as with human blood, supporting the above pointed notion of evolutionary closeness between them. It may be noted further that reaction of the antihuman serum is weaker with blood of other apes, still weaker with blood of monkeys and baboons, which are more distantly related to humans than apes, and almost imperceptible with blood of lemurs, which are the most primitive members of the group Primates, and which are thus farthest separated from humans in phylogeny.
Now let us consider some probable unique attributes of Man.
Human intelligence and speech
One of the peculiar features of Man is his greatly developed intelligence, which has largely replaced his instincts. How do instincts differ from intelligence? A long answer is needed to satisfy this question; hence a separate essay on this problem, see Essay 2.
Perhaps the most acceptable definition of intelligence is that it is the capacity to modify one's behaviour according to the needs of the moment on the basis of learning through past experience. One special feature of human intelligence is symbol formation or symbolization or conceptual thinking. For each experience we mentally form a symbol, which may be expressed orally by speaking out a word or a set of words or by writing. Man can express a series of such symbols or words in an articulate manner, and thus have developed speech, language and writing, which have played such a vital role in the development of human social pattern.
While speech and language have been outcome of symbolization or concept formation, it is also true that they have helped concept development. As Julian Huxley (1959) has put it, words are tools which automatically carve concepts out of experience. More about it in the next essay.
Intelligence and concept formation did not appear all of a sudden at the human level during primate evolution. Though in a rudimentary form, these attributes may be seen among apes. At Stanford University and the University of Nevada, chimpanzees and gorillas have been taught to communicate by using the American Sign Language (=Ameslan). (It may be pointed out at this stage that in the great apes the vocal cords are such that they are unable to produce a variety of sounds; hence use of intricate oral symbols or words for expression is difficult in their case.) At Georgia State University the apes have been taught to use a modified computer key board. Such experiments have shown that the apes are fairly capable of associating experiences with certain symbols, and they too are capable of fair amount of articulation.
Even in the wild the apes seem to have some capacity of communication. This may be inferred, for example from an experience narrated by Jane Goodall. In East Africa two young gorillas had been shot dead by someone from a jeep. The gorilla tribe, which had thus lost its two members, avoided jeeps and cars for years after the event. This could not have happened in the absence of some communication among members of the tribe.
Prehensile or object-holding hands
There are reasons to believe that the ancestor of Man was an arboreal creature with the habit of brachiating, that is swinging, with the help of prehensile or object-holding hands, from one tree branch to another, like the present day apes. Thus Man's prehensile hands, with the thumb foldable against the palm, have been a legacy from a tree living ancestor. Not only the prehensile nature of the fore-limbs but also extra sensitive palms have been a part of this legacy.
When the evolving Man left life on trees and started moving on land, he took to bipedalism. His hands, now freed from locomotion, could be used for holding various external objects, and using them as such or with some modifications, in order to increase his mechanical efficiency. Human intelligence prompted this use of hands to make extensive and intricate modifications in such objects. Thus started making and wielding of tools, weapons and implements, or in brief, technology, which is an important characteristic of Man.
Like intelligence and conceptual thinking, use of tools did not appear de novo in human evolution. Rudiments of tools using behaviour may be seen in some animals. A wasp, Ammophila makes its nest in the form of a blindly ending tunnel in the ground. This she does by digging with aid of her jaws and spiny fore-legs. After laying her egg in the nest and placing some food for the future larva, the mother wasp puts a small pebble on the funnel-like mouth of the tunnel, and then places the earlier dug out loose earth over the mouth. Now, in order to camouflage the spot and protect it from parasitic and predator insects, she searches out a suitable pebble, which she selects after weighing several pebbles between her jaws and rejecting them. Holding the finally selected pebble between her mandibles she allows it to fall down repeatedly on the loose earth at the mouth of the nest to smoothen it. Thus the carefully selected pebble is used by the wasp as a tool.
When young Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Archipelago as a part of a scientific expedition, he observed that a small bird, a finch had wood pecker like habit of dislodging insects, living beneath bark, and feeding on them. For this purpose a wood pecker uses its long bill, which is inserted into cracks and gaps in bark. The Galapagos finch does not have a long bill, and makes up the deficiency by holding a twig in its beak and using it as a tool for exploring the underneath of bark.
Gavin R. Hunt, a biologist from New Zealand, has recently observed in the New Caledonia group of islands in the South Pacific that a crow (Corvus moneduloides) makes and uses tools of two different types. One variety is a hooked stick. This it makes by pulling away a twig by its beak, making a nick near one end of the stick, so that the end becomes hooked. The hooked stick is used for pulling out insects from holes. A tool of a different kind is prepared by making, with its beak, successively deeper bites along an edge of a long leaf, starting near the leaf apex and proceeding towards its base. The leaf, made serrated this way, is also used for exploring holes for insect food.
Chimpanzees in the wild are also known to use simple tools. It has been observed crushing together several dry leaves to make a sort of a sponge, and using it for lifting water to its mouth, if the stream bank is too high to allow lowering of mouth to the water surface. It has also been seen to break away a tree branch, removing leaves from it to make a stick, and to use the stick for beating its chest in order to frighten and drive away an approaching enemy.
Man, with his complex tools and equipment, represents a much higher level of technological evolution. The prehensile hands of Man have made possible not only to use tools and technology, but also the capacity to make symbols on flat surfaces. Thus his object holding hands, intelligence and conceptual thinking have led to writing and literature.
Dolphins among Mammals are markedly intelligent. It has been said that, if they had prehensile limbs, they could have built their own civilization with physical signs upon the Earth like Man.
Cumulative tradition or social memory
A peculiar feature of human social organisation is that all that has been experienced or learnt so far by the present generation and all the earlier generations is passed on to the next generation. Thus knowledge and skill, acquired, go on accumulating generation after generation. This is called the cumulative tradition or social memory, as the society as a whole remembers/retains all the past experience and learning. Rich communication, through speech, writing and literature, plays a vital role in building up social memory.
Foetalization or paedogenesis and slowing of development
By paedogenesis, in human context, is meant foetal features continuing into the adult stage. Delay in hardening of the inner parts of the nasal bones, the rounded form of the fore-head, distribution of body hair in adult humans etc. make us resemble a late foetus of chimpanzee. It is believed that paedogenesis has been a factor in human evolution. Paedogenesis seems to have been accompanied by slowing of development in the evolutionary process leading to Man. The time that elapses between birth and the time of attainment of sexual maturity in Man is about a quarter of the average human life span, whereas in other mammals the corresponding period is eighth, tenth or twelfth of the average longevity. According to Bates (1963), "The human infant is completely dependent from 6 to 8 years, the ape infant for perhaps two years, most monkeys for 1 year ..... Man reaches puberty at about 14 years and full adult powers at about 20; the corresponding figures for great apes are about 8 to 12. Mammals other than Primates generally show even more rapid developmental rates."
Slowing of development and paedogenesis have resulted in a longer post-natal association between the child and the parents. This situation is helpful in construction of social memory.
Long post-reproductive phase
A long post-reproductive phase is yet another human peculiarity. In most mammals individuals generally die soon after the reproductive phase is over. In chimpanzee reproduction stops in a female at about the age of 35 years, and death occurs at about 40 years. In man, however the post-reproductive phase is long; it is as long as or longer than the reproductive phase. Moreover people in the post-reproductive period generally occupy important position in the society. Most leaders, eminent doctors, lawyers and scientists are in their post-reproductive phase of life. In fact the presence of such experienced persons amongst us is conducive to development of social memory. Sometimes our society is criticised for being gerantophilic, and critics point out that one is "too old at 40 or 45 ". But such slogans tend to rob the human society of one of its advantages.
Man has been evolving without breaking up into species. This situation has been discussed at some length in Essay 9. Two populations, living in two different parts, evolve separately, may become different in their features, and may also become different species, if they remain separated long enough. But, because of Man's restless and migratory habits, human populations frequently undergo genetic intermixing. Thus these populations do not remain separated long enough to become incapable of interbreeding and to become distinct species. This sort of evolution, in which geographic isolates frequently genetically intermix, has been called reticulate evolution. On the other hand speciation or new species formation has been called divergent evolution.
Reticulate evolution is one of the characteristics of Man.
As has been pointed out above, reticulate evolution results from frequent racial intermixing. In Mexico 60% of 33 million population are a result of hybridisation between Europeans and Red Indians. In Colombia this is true for 40% of 11 million population. In the Urals most people are hybrids between Europeoids and Mongoloids. In fact it is estimated that half of humankind today is made up of people, who represent racial intermixing not far back in the past.
A consequence of reticulate evolution: members of different human races successfuly interbreed. In this context Bates (1963) has said, "There is ample evidence that the most different looking individuals from the most remotely separated parts of the world can interbreed if given the opportunity. Norwegians, Australian aborigines, Bushmen, Malays and South American Indians are all perfectly capable of interbreeding and producing healthy and completely fertile off-spring."
Another consequence of this situation : that the human species presents a great genetic diversity. Humans are the most genetically variable of all animal species with the exception of domestic animals. The great variability helps the fine distribution of labour in the human social structure.
The genetic variability in humans has helped invading and living in widely different habitats. No other animal species is known to occupy such very different habitats. Of course ants are also known to live in very different parts. They are met with in tropical forests, deserts, at considerable heights on mountains, along the sea shore etc.. But then there are numerous species of ants, whereas Man, a single species, occupies such a wide range of ecological conditions. Human technology has also helped us living in and adapting to different living situations.
The different characteristics of humans, enumerated above, interact in various ways, as illustrated in the figure 1.1. The great amalgam or complex of speech and language, writing and literature, social memory (through informal and formal education), technology, fine distribution of labour and great capacity to adapt to diverse conditions and habitats, is called civilization, which in the Animal Kingdom is seen only in the human species. In this description of civilization one important ingredient is left out, human esthetic sense and the fine arts, which seem to be a culmination of our conceptual thinking.
FIG. 1.1: Interaction among different special attributes of Man.
2. INTELLIGENCE VERSUS INSTINCT
One of the unique features of Man is his well developed intelligence. Mammals are intelligent, and Man is much more so. By such a statement we mean that mammals, and to a greater extent Man, are guided in their behaviour by intelligence rather than by their instinct, while animals at lower rungs of evolution show mostly instinctive behaviour.
What is intelligence, and how does it differ from instinct? It is not easy to come to satisfactory definitions of these two terms. As intelligence has been the very basis of human cultural evolution, let us devote some efforts to come to acceptable definitions.
Search for definitions
Commonly by intelligence we mean learning capacity and capacity to modify one's behaviour as per needs of the moment. By instinctive or innate behaviour is commonly meant inborn behaviour, for which no learning is needed, and which is not modifiable in view of immediate environmental needs. Obviously an important difference between innate/instinctive and intelligent behaviour may be that, while the former is guided more by the genotype or the gene set, the latter is more shaped by the immediate environment.
Let us see a few examples of innate behaviour in order to appreciate how much of our own behaviour differs from it.
One example we choose from Linda Partridge (1983). She points out that the garter snake (Thamnophis elegans) feeds mostly on slugs in coastal regions of California, while in inland California the same species feeds mainly on frogs and fish. This difference in food preference is not due to learning. Most freshly born coastal garter snakes attack slugs on the first exposure, while most new born inland snakes will not feed on slugs, and will starve to death, if an alternative food is not made available to them. In this snake species there is ovo-viviparity, that is eggs are retained in the genital tract of the mother, they develop there and then young snakes are born. But maternal effect during development may be ruled out, as it has been found that the progeny, resulting from a mating between an inland and a coastal snake, do not particularly resemble the mother in their food preference. These observations clearly suggest that the garter snake in different geographical areas have evolved differently through selection with regards their food preferences, depending upon the nature of food available readily. In support of this notion is the observation that, while in the coastal populations there are some individuals which do not prefer slugs, some in an inland population may almost as readily attack slugs as most individuals of a coastal population.
Another example from the work of Gwinner and Wiltschko on the European Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin), as cited by Bateson (1983). When these birds are reared in cages since hatching, they show restlessness in migratory periods, in autumn and spring. These birds in captivity and isolated from fellow individuals however, tend to fly southward in autumn and northward in spring, like their wild counterparts.
Still another example: a female mantid, reared in isolation, when sexually matured and mated, makes an ootheca, characteristic of the species, though she has not seen her mother or any other female doing so.
Compare these instances with our behaviour. Though we are not free from instinct, much of our behaviour is deliberate, modifiable in view of immediate environmental needs, and based on learning or experience.
But the definitions of instinct and intelligent behaviour, given above, are not satisfying, when we consider the following. That learning has no place in development of instinctive behaviour is not quite correct. An example to bring home this point is in Hailman's study, as cited by Bateson (1983), who says, "It is possible to take a recently hatched laughing gull (Larus atricilla) chick and show that it will peck at models of adults's bill. Advocates of the first view (that innate behaviour is entirely inborn with no place for learning) would almost certainly want to call the behaviour innate, since the chick had previously been isolated from 'relevant' experience. Nevertheless, as the chick profits from its experience after hatching, the accuracy of its pecking improves, and the kinds of bill-like objects it will peck at are increasingly restricted."
Another example: Marler (1976) has noted that in three different birds, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Oregon Junco, song patterns of wild and socially isolated captive males, as seen in recorded oscillograms, are obviously different.
That intelligent behaviour is environment based, but it also requires a genetic basis, is not difficult to accept. Mongolism or Down's Syndrome is due to a genetic abnormality, and the learning ability of the sufferer is greatly impaired. Identical or monozygotic twins have similar genetic base, and show very similar learning ability, while dissimilar or dizygotic twins may differ more widely in this ability.
Keeping in view all this let us continue our quest for satisfactory definitions of intelligence and instinct. According to Lorenz (1965) behaviour, based on immediate environmental information or need and previous learning, is learnt/intelligent/acquired behaviour. On the other hand behaviour, which has evolved as an adaptation to a particular set of environmental conditions, and, therefore develops under influence of the genetic mechanism, and is not pliable under influence of immediate environmental changes is innate/instinctive behaviour. While these definitions are clear and in good agreement with the common notion among biologists, the main drawback with them is that there is no room for learning modifying instinctive behaviour.
Another significant view in this context is that of Schneirla (1966) and Lehrman (1970). According to these authors a developing individual is continuously influenced by both the genes present in its cells as well as by the environment. Thus behaviour also develops under influence of the both. However, this view is too broad based to help distinguishing between intelligence and instinct.
Alcock (1979) gave a theory suggesting varying extent of influence of genes and environment in determining behaviour. Taking a cue from Alcock's views, suggestions are being made here to help formulate acceptable definitions of intelligent and instinctive behaviour. The suggestions are illustrated in the figure 2.1. As shown in this figure all behaviour is influenced both by the genetic make up of individual as well as by the environment. If in shaping of a particular instance of behaviour the current environmental information/needs and learning play a large and conspicuous role, while the role of genotype is, relatively speaking, not so well pronounced, the behaviour is called learnt/acquired/intelligent. On the other hand, if the genetic control of behaviour is well pronounced or conspicuous, and the ambient environmental conditions and recent experiences and learning play only a small role in shaping behaviour, it is innate/instinctive behaviour.
It should, however be remembered that the genotype, guiding behaviour, has evolved under influence of environment. Thus behaviour in all cases is an adaptation to the environment, though the influence of the current environmental conditions is obvious and pronounced in intelligent behaviour. But in view of all this one should not underestimate the role of the genetic mechanism, which in all cases provides the back-bone of behaviour. If the genic set or genome has evolved to such an extent that it influences development of an organism, capable of perceiving the ambient environmental features, assessing them immediately and preparing strategies for suitable response, on the basis of previous experiences/learning stored in the memory, we call the possessor of the genome intelligent.
FIG. 2.1: Diagramatic representation of present authors' views on Intelligence and Instinct. (N.B. : Thickness of straight arrows is meant to convey extent of influence. Thick arrows denote conspicuous and well pronounced influence, and thin arrows influence not so obvious.)
An alternative explanation of instinct
Psychologists have now discarded use of the term instinct. They believe that the term "has ceased to be a useful concept" (Hinde, 1974). The main objection to the instinct concept - it does not adequately explain the nature of what is called instinctive behaviour. According to Hinde (1974) to state that a certain behaviour is instinctive is to provide a cloak for our ignorance.An alternative explanation is being offered now for instinctive behaviour. This explanation, as discussed by Hinde (1974), includes two main points, viz.:
1. The so called instinctive behaviour is shown only when some internal changes, depending upon stage of development or physiological state, have taken place in the animal. Such changes produce a certain "motivation" or "urge". Perception of some external changes may trigger expression of the urge. For example, an adult in breeding season has mature gonads and the hormonal make up needed for its nesting behaviour. Certain climatic changes, ushering in the breeding season, trigger the nesting behaviour.
2. Generally what we call an instinctive behaviour includes a chain of activities, and for each activity a separate "motivation" or "urge" is needed. For example, a bird in the breeding season feels an urge to collect nesting material, then transfers the material to a suitable nesting site, and then makes or weaves a nest. As per the explanation, offered by the author, development of a motivation leads to the first or initial activity. The result of the first activity becomes the stimulus situation for expression of another motivation, resulting in production of stimulus for still another motivation and so on.
The motivation concept is no doubt a more detailed explanation of instinctive behaviour, but, even when we use this concept, we are still using a garb or a cloak to a cover our ignorance. How otherwise do we explain in the example, cited above, why a certain bird, in the initial activity of its nesting behaviour, chooses pieces of straw and not pebbles?
In our opinion "instinct" continues to be a useful term for most biological writing, though one should be aware that often when we refer to an instinct, it may be a cluster of instincts or motivational urges.
Special features of human intelligence
Mammals, specially higher primates including humans, are markedly intelligent in their behaviour. They learn by those very basic learning methods which psychologists talk of, viz. habituation, imprinting, sensitization and classical and instrumental conditioning. But these animals have some special attributes to make their learning process and intelligence remarkable and complex. The following is an attempt to make out those special features.
1. Learning facility
Birds and mammals show a well marked facility in learning. They learn faster than lower animals. Mammals are superior to birds in this respect.
2. Capacity to reorganize elements of experience and to form principles on basis of learning.
Mammals, specially nonhuman primates and Man, have the capacity to reorganize elements of past experience to solve a new problem. Let us take a simple example. The following experiment is included in the text-book by Dethier and Stellar (1968). Some rats were taught two different activities separately. Activity number 1 : the rats learnt to use a ladder to climb down from a table to the floor and explore that floor for food. Activity number 2: they were later taught to climb up a ladder to reach a table top, from which they used a run-way or bridge to reach another table top with food. After the rats had learnt well the two activities, a special situation was created. Two tables with ladders were arranged in a room. On table number 1 some food was kept, but it was so fenced that a rat on this table could not reach it. The food, however could be reached from table number 2, the top of which was connected by a bridge with the food holding part of the top of table number 1 (see figure 2.2). When rats, trained for the two activities, were released on table number 1 out-side the fence around food, they readily climbed down from the table to the floor, scrambled on the floor to reach the ladder with the table number 2, climbed up this ladder, and, using the bridge, reached the food. Seemingly the rats were using elements of the past experience to solve a new problem.
Another example: young chimpanzees in captivity play with different objects variously. If in their enclosure there are empty packing boxes, they would arrange them on one another. If bamboo sticks are available, they would "eat" around an end of a stick to make it thinner, and try to fix this end into hollow of another stick to make a longer pole. During the World War I Kohler observed that his captive chimpanzees would climb on a packing box to reach a banana, suspended from the ceiling. If one box was not enough to reach the food, it would put another over it, and, if necessary, a third one, and then climb over boxes and get the banana. Similarly, if a banana were lying on floor out-side the cage, the captive chimpanzee used a bamboo stick to rake in the fruit. If one stick was not long enough to reach the banana, the animal would join to-gether two sticks to make a longer rake. Seemingly the Kohler's chimps were using elements of behaviour, learnt earlier during play, to solve new problems.
Nonhuman and human intelligence also includes the property of forming principles on basis of experience. Jane Goodall has put on record the story of a gorilla tribe in East Africa that avoided jeeps and cars years after one young gorilla had been shot at and killed by somebody on a jeep. As Goodall has pointed out, this observation suggests a communication system in the tribe. It also suggests that a principle had been formed in the tribe, that automobiles were too dangerous to be nearby.
FIG. 2.2: Diagram to illustrate an experiment with rats. Results of the experiment show that rats may use elements of past experiences to solve a new problem. For details see the text.
Conceptual thinking, consciousness and in-sight
Conceptual thinking or symbolization, that is concept or symbol formation, is a characteristic of human intelligence. These symbols may be expressed in an articulate series orally or by writing with hand on a flat surface. The former way of expression has led to speech and language, and the latter to writing and literature. These expressions have been of vital importance in communication in human society. There are some indications of this that apes too are capable of concept formation and articulation, though only to a small extent.
Another peculiarity of human intelligence is consciousness, the nature of which has been much debated. Roughly by consciousness we mean self awareness and self evaluation. The various attempts to explain consciousness fall under two categories, those which ascribe the phenomenon to a life force or soul, which is apart from the body, and whose presence in the body is necessary for life and consciousness, and those, which regard consciousness as a nervous phenomenon, as due to a highly evolved and intricate arrangement of synapses. The first category of explanations amount to metaphysics, an area out-side the scope of the present treatment. The other category of explanations seem to have a scientific basis, as the role of neurons and synapses in sensory perception, neural integration and in mediating motor responses are well established, though it has so far not been possible to adequately explain the mechanism of memory, reasoning and consciousness. Consciousness seems to have evolved gradually, as even primitive forms, like fishes and crustaceans, have proprioreception and statoreception, i.e. perception of body's own movements and of orientation of the body with reference to the direction of gravity respectively.
Of late the concept of voices, internal and silent in the mind shaping consciousness, has been gaining acceptance among psychologists. Lev Vyogotsky, a Russian psychologist, noted in 1930s that children, between 2 and 7 years in age, often take to self-addressed audible speaking, organizing their thoughts and planning. Later, when it has become well practised, this habit of self-addressed speaking become internal and inaudible mental working and consciousness. Psychologists regard this inner voice as memory and reasoning aided by the acquired language. Language audibly spoken, written or internal and inaudible, helps in carving out concepts.
But then earlier it has been said that language is a product of conceptual thinking. Now it is being said that language helps in making of concepts. Are the two statements not mutually contradictory? Well, the situation is roughly analogous to that of making tools, which then can be helpful in making more tools, including advanced ones and complex machines. After a growing human individual has acquired a good grip on a language, the language greatly helps him in concept making, reasoning, planning and making decisions. Perhaps ancient Hindu philosophers had realized the significance of language in learning and concept making, and that is why they gave the name "VANI" (=speech) to Saraswati, the goddess of learning and wisdom.
Besides the internal "audio" human mental working also includes an internal "video". A support for this notion: forms, preserved in memory, appear in varying sequences in dream.
Now let us turn to "in-sight". By "in-sight" is meant internal visualization of a problem and its possible solution. A good illustration of this is provided by classical and simple psychological experiments on "detour". One such experiment is shown in the figure 2.3. A mammal, say a jackal, has been tied with a cord, which at its other end has been tied to a pole, the pole number 1. The cord goes round an obstacle, say a pole, the pole number 2, before reaching the animal. When the animal is in position shown in the figure, it is exposed to food kept in such a position that the animal can reach it only when the cord does not go round the pole number 2, and is fully extended. How will the animal reach the food? We may think of three possibilities:
(a) The animal either altogether fails to reach the food, or runs about excitedly and solves the problem by "accident".
(b) It solves the problem by trial and error. On repeated exposure the animal may learn to solve it in fewer attempts or even in a single attempt.
(c) It solves the problem in one attempt on first exposure.
The third possibility obviously speaks of in-sight. Only primates among mammals show some degree of success in solving the problem of getting to the food in one attempt on first exposure.
FIG. 2.3: Diagram to illustrate an experiment on "detour". Only Primates sometimes are able to solve the problem of reaching the food on first exposure i.e. without trial and error.
In humans, and to a small extent in mammals and birds too, experience of previous generation is passed on to the developing generation through a long post-natal care and education. This socially accumulated experience and learning or social memory plays a very important role in shaping behaviour. The human capacity of symbolization or conceptual thinking, leading to language, writing and literature, has had a great impact in development of social memory in humans.
The special features of human intelligence, enumerated and discussed above (but for social memory), obviously depend to a large extent on the genetic make-up. But basic learning, through conditioning, imprinting etc., and acquisition of knowledge and skill through social memory depend mostly on environmental exposure. It is known now that in a child between the age of four and ten years a large number of synapses in the brain disappear. How many brain synapses survive in this phase of development has a relation to the extent and variety of learning experience, to which the child is exposed. Thus development of intelligence in Man has a strong genetic basis, and at the same time environment too plays a significant role in this.
Human intelligence, in association with social memory and technology, has led to development of civilization, which, besides being a unique and wonderful phenomenon, has been causing a heavy drain of resources on the earth, and has been responsible for extinction of a large number of animals and plants. It is high time that we intelligently evaluate human intelligence for its advantages and limitations, and plan and execute steps to minimize further damage to the biosphere.
3. EVOLUTION OF MODERN MAN
Human evolution is quite a common topic in text-books of zoology and anthropology. The topic, chosen for this essay, is somewhat different. The present Man is Homo sapiens as per zoological nomenclature. How, where and when this species evolved from early and more primitive members of the human family, Hominidae - this is the central question for the present discussion. But, as a prelude to this discussion, we may summarily recall the history of evolution of Hominidae.
Evolution of Hominidae
Members of the primitive primate subfamily Dryopithecinae were generalised apes, living in Miocene and Pliocene (i.e. more than 15 million years ago) in Europe, Egypt, South Africa, India and China. They are believed to have been common ancestors to the present day apes (Family Simiidae) and the family Hominidae. Earliest hominids, known to us, are Australopithecines (also referred to as Man-apes) from Africa. Oldest australopithecine fossils are about 3.5 million years old, and they seem to have become extinct about 1 million years back. A primitive australopithecine, like Australopithecus afarensis, discovered and described in 1974 by the American palaeoanthropologist Donald C. Johanson, is regarded as having been ancestral to the genus Homo, which includes the present day Man. Early fossils of Homo have been called pithecanthropines. Technically they are Homo erectus (in common reference ape-man). Their remains have been discovered in North China, Europe, all over Africa and warmer parts of Asia (Eckhardt, 1979). They appeared 700,000 years back, and were widely distributed 300,000 years ago. Some African pithecanthropines have been estimated to be 1 to 1.5 million years old. They seem to have become extinct nearly 100,000 years ago.
The pithecanthropines, specially the earlier ones, in their various features, were quite intermediate between autstralopithecines and the modern Man. Hence the former are regarded as having been ancestral to the latter.
The pithecanthropines are believed to have been progenitors of another species of man, the Neanderthal Man (Home neanderthalensis), who lived in Europe, Middle East and North Africa, and disappeared about 25,000 years ago.
This summary of human evolution is illustrated in figure 3.1.
FIG. 3.1: Evolution of the human family, Hominidae, shown diagrammatically. Note that the Neanderthal Man (Homo neanderthalensis) and the Modern Man (Homo sapiens) are believed to have evolved from Homo erectus almost independently.
The central question
Now let us return to the central question : how, when and where did the Modern Man evolve? The first two parts of the question are not very difficult to answer. As has been pointed out above, early pithecanthropines are regarded as progenitors of the Modern Man. In fact pithecanthropines were already quite similar to the present day Man. Some more directional changes in acquisition of erect posture, larger brain, receding of jawa etc., in response to continued similar selection pressures, and it would be the Modern Man. As an example of directional nature of the changes, comparative cranial volume in higher primates is shown in Table 3.1.
Comparative Cranial Capacity In Higher Primates (After Mayr, 1963)
Primate Cranial capacity
Larger apes (Chimpanzee and Gorilla) 325 to 650 ml.
Australopithecines 450 to 650 ml.
Pithecanthropines (Java Ape Man) 800 to 1000 ml.
Pithecanthrpines (Peking Man) 900 to 1100 ml.
Modern Man 1200 to 1600 ml.
The earliest fossils of the Modern Man (Homo sapiens) are known from the Klasies River Mouth Cave and the Border Cave in South Africa, and from caves at Skhul and Qafzeh on the Mount Caramel in Israel. Using modern techniques of dating relics, these remains have been found to be nearly 1,00,000 years old. Bones of anatomically Modern Man have been found in Kenya and Ethiopia. They have been dated as 70,000 years old or more. Middle palaeolithic culture is associated with early Modern Man, and earliest tools of this culture have been dated as about 1,30,000 years old. Hence it is believed that about 150,000 years back modern Man existed, and that about 200,000 years ago two lines of descent arose from a Homo erectus stock and led to Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens (Stringer, 1990).
Now let us turn to the remaining part of the question - where did the Modern Man evolve? It is quite a vexing part of the question, and it is important because it has some bearing with racial prejudices. Next part of the essay is devoted to this problem.
FIG. 3.2: Diagram to illustrate the Multiregional Model.
Place of evolution of the Modern Man
We are far from having reached a satisfactory solution to this query. Three main solutions have been suggested, which have been referred to by Stringer (1990) as the Multiregional Model, the Gene-flow or Hybridization Model and the African Model.
According to the Multiregional Model the racial features of any race have taken long to evolve. They have evolved in the region, in which the race is found, independent of racial evolution in other regions. Thus descent of races has taken place independently in different regions from the Homo erectus level. In other words, the Modern Man has been polyphyletic in origin, and, therefore there are several quite different and distinct human races in different geographical areas. Exceptions to this situation are areas, where recent migrations have occurred. For example, the North American continent is inhabited by American Indians, Europeans, Africans and also Asians. This model has been expressed by a number of palaeoanthropologists. A recent supporter is M. H. Wolpoff.
The Gene-flow or Hybridization Model is similar to the Multiregional Model, with the addition that there have been genetic exchanges through interbreeding between the different lineages. Such interchanges are believed to have become more frequent as Homo sapiens was evolving. Thus the Modern Man, as per this model, has evolved through a web of lineages. Erik Trinkaus and F. H. Smith are supporters of this model.
The African Model suggests that the Modern Man arose in Africa from a stock of Home erectus, and then migrated from here to the Middle East, and subsequently to other lands. The populations of Homo sapiens, settled in different parts of the world, due to continued selection in somewhat different directions, developed their own characteristics and became different geographical races. Thus, according to this model, Homo sapiens has been monophyletic in origin, and differences between races are not such deep clefts in their phylogeny or ancestral history as is suggested by the other two models.
Several recently discovered evidence favours the African Model. Hence most Zoologists and Anthropologists to-day find this model more acceptable than the remaining two. Now let us briefly examine the evidences, which have been provided mainly by three areas of study, viz. genetic studies, palaeoanthropological studies and language studies.
FIG. 3.3: The African Model of origin of Modern Man. (Arrows indicate initial migrations.)
Evidence from Genetic Studies
DNA, the genetic material, has been studied in different humanpopulations. In a human cell, as in cells of all higher organisms, two types of DNA are found, nuclear DNA or n-DNA, which is in nucleus and chromosomes, and mitochondrial DNA or mt-DNA, which is the DNA found in respiratory organelles or mitochondria.
From the present view-point mt-DNA is specially suitable for study. It is inherited only from the maternal side, and, therefore there is no mix-up of maternal and paternal DNAs during fertilization and formation of a new individual. Due to these circumstances inheritance of mt-DNA is a simple lineage, theoretically traceable to a single woman far back in past. Allan C. Wilson and his group of workers have used mt-DNA as a molecular clock. They have comparatively studied a segment of mt-DNA in different human populations, and have tried to imagine the ancestral condition, and have studied accumulation of mutations in the chosen segment of mt-DNA in different populations. Keeping in view the present rate of mutations in the mt-DNA segment, and presuming that this rate has been consistent throughout, they have tried to work out how long a particular population has been evolving beyond the ancestral condition. Main inferences of their study : (1) that the mt-DNA has been evolving for the longest period in Africa, to be more exact in the Khoisan or Bushman population, (2) that it has been evolving in certain Homo sapiens populations in Africa for nearly 1,50,000 years. This estimate agrees so well with inferences from Anthropological studies.
n-DNA has been studied in human populations to solve the problem, under discussion, from two standpoints, viz. through expression of certain genes and by preparing DNA profiles. Studies on these lines have been based on the principle that greater the period of separation between two populations greater the difference in their DNA. It will happen even if there is no natural selection; it will be through random mutations and genetic drift.
Cavalli-Sforza of Standford University, USA, and his colleagues Menozzi and Piazza have studied frequency of some 100 genes (e.g. the gene for Rh factor) in 1800 different populations, each sample consisting of several hundred individuals. It was a 12 year project (Cavalli-Sforza, 1991). Their results clearly suggested that the genetic distances between Africans and non-Africans were greater than in any other inter-continental comparison.
DNA profiles or DNA finger printing for different populations have been studied by Cavalli-Sforza and also by Kenneth Kidd and Judith Kidd of the Yale University. From these studies the inferences, in words of Cavalli-Sforza (1991), are, "The genetic distance between Africans and Non-Africans is roughly twice that between Australians and Asians, and the latter more than twice apart than between Europeans and Asians. The corresponding times of separation suggested by Palaeoanthropology are in similar ratios....."
Evidence from Palaeoanthropology
Earliest remains of the Modern Man are known from the caves at the mouth of the river Klasies in South Africa. They are nearly 100,000 yearsold. From 1930 onwards in a number of caves in the Middle East human remains have been found. They seem to be remnants of burials. At some places indications of burial rituals have been discovered. In an Iraqi cave, called Shanidar, remains of a man, two women and an infant have been found. The relics are about 100,000 years old, and pollen of early spring wild flowers have been noted around the human remains (Anonymous, 1996).
Two caves, those of Skhul and Taboon, in Israel have been found to hold very old human skeletal remains. The fossils at Skhul have been identified as of early modern humans, and, using reliable modern techniques, have been dated as nearly 100,000 years old, and those at Tabun as of Neanderthal Man and about 120,000 years old. Nearly 1,00,000 years old remains of the Modern Man have been dug out also at Qafzeh. Neanderthal fossils, dug out at Kebara, have been estimated to be nearly 60,000 years old.
Thus earliest remains of the Modern Man, Homo sapiens are known from South Africa and also from that part of the Middle East which is close to the present location of the Suez Canal. Very early Modern Man's remains (70,000 years old or more) are also known from East Africa. These finds suggest that the Modern Man arose from the Homo erectus level either in South-east Africa or in the Western part of the Middle East (figure 3.3).
In the foregoing account the Neanderthal Man has been mentioned. This species has been so named because its fossils were first discovered in the Neanderthal Valley in Germany. The species presents a number of specialised features, such as heavy brow ridges, flat skull roof or platycephaly, large cranial capacity, even more than in the Modern Man, and cheek bones presenting out-ward angles. They are believed to have been quite intelligent, and having their own primitive culture and language.
We are still not quite clear about Modern Man's relations with the Neanderthal Man. In Europe the Neanderthal Man appeared first, and Homo sapiens later. Hence it has been often suggested that the former was ancestral to the latter. But as we have noted above, the Neanderthal Man with his specialized features was present not only before but also after the modern man appeared. Hence now generally the Neanderthal Man is not accepted as a progenitor of Homo sapiens, confirmed by mitochondrial DNA sequencing.
In Europe primitive Homo sapiens, called the Cro-Magnon Man, appeared about 40,000 years ago, whereas in the middle East and also in Africa, who were living even nearly 100,000 years ago. In Europe the Neanderthal Man lived and had acquired Neanderthal characteristics about 125,000 years back. Nearly 10,000 years after appearance of the Cro-Magnon Man, that is nearly 30,000 years from now, the Neanderthals disappeared. We do not know what happened to them. One suggestion is that they interbred with Modern Man and lost their identity. But Stringer (1990) points out, "The Kebara Neanderthal (i.e. the Middle East Neanderthals, some specimens of which have been discovered in the Kebara Cave) may have lived 40,000 years after the two populations (i.e. the Neanderthals and the moderns) could have come in contact, yet this specimen (i.e. the Kebara specimen) shows no signs of hybridization with the modern humans - in fact it is one of the most robust and characteristic of Neanderthal skeletons." Similarly human remains, discovered in the Middle East, 30 to 40 thousand years old, show no sign of hybridization between Neanderthals and moderns.
In view of these facts it is generally accepted now that the Neanderthal Man was a different species from the modern. It is further believed that the pithecanthropines (Homo erectus) gave rise to Homo neanderthalensis in Europe, and to Homo sapiens in Africa/Middle East. How did the moderns replace the Neanderthals in Europe and Middle East? Perhaps they proved superior to Neanderthals in competition. Anonymous (1996) pointed out the possibility that "That (the moderns) survived the glacial cold as they were equipped with better shelters, tailored clothing and more efficient hearths". Anthropological finds indicate that the Neanderthals had fairly well developed stone age culture, but moderns were culturally more advanced.
Palaeoanthropological studies suggest separation between Africans and Asians about 100,000 years ago, between Asians and Australians nearly 50,000 years back, and between Asians and Europeans about 35,000 years ago. Thus separation between populations of moderns, in different areas is in the same proportion/ratio as genetic distances between them (vide supra).
Another significant inference from such studies : fossil record of hominids about 300,000 years old indicates close relation between populations of Europe and Africa on one hand and of China and Indonesia on the other. By about 100,000 years ago hominid populations in different regions looked quite different. Now there were Neanderthals in Europe and West Asia, modern humans in Africa and West Asia, Homo erectus and other primitive forms in China and Far East. 20,000 to 30,000 years from now very much similar primitive moderns were inhabiting Europe, Asia and Australia.
Evidence from Linguistics
Languages have been evolving with people. Some linguists have tried to prepare evolutionary tree for world languages. There is a remarkable correspondence between an evolutionary tree for languages and an evolutionary dendrogram for human populations based on genetic distances between them (Cavalli-Sforza, 1991). This situation attests the naturalness of the tree based on genetic distances and showing origin in Africa.
It may well be asked why there should be correspondence between a genetic tree and linguistic tree, when we know that it is not the genes which decide the language one speaks. One's tongue is decided by the environment in which one grows up. That even then there may be correspondence between the two evolutionary trees is explained by Cavalli-Sforza (1991) as follows. Genes are inherited from generation to generation, that is in a vertical manner. Language on the other hand is learnt both from the parents and also from the members of the same generation, that is both vertically as well as horizontally. Horizontal language learning is more pronounced in urban areas. Adoption of language of another population due to cultural or political invasion is also more marked in urban areas. On the other hand vertical learning of language is more pronounced in rural areas. Linguists, keeping in view this situation, have mostly confined their study among tribals and aborginals.
If a population gets divided into two parts, and the two move into different areas and become isolated from each other, the two isolated parts will become genetically somewhat different due to evolution taking place in a little different directions. Their language may also become somewhat different due to local influences. But both the gene pools as well as their languages will retain the same basic structure/constitution as at the point of bifurcation. Thus courses of genetic and language evolution are close and parallel. This explains why there should be correspondence between linguistic and genetic trees.
Thus the African Model is gaining ground, and we are inclined to believe in African and monophyletic origin of the Modern Man, and in that the races of Homo sapiens are local and geographical races.(In a symposium, held in October 1997 at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, geneticitsts, who had before them an immense amount of data regarding human populations, upheld the African Model of origin of the Modern Man.)
4. APES TO MAN - WHY NOT NOW?
Quite a few times we have faced an innocent but baffling question - if Man has evolved from apes on loss of forest cover, and if there are apes at present and also fast receding forests, why apes are not changing into Man now.
The question is baffling because we tend to forget that cases of organic evolution are actually experiments in nature, outcome of the experiments depending on a complex of factors and not on just one or a few factors alone. A successful evolutionary experiment is due to a rare combination of certain favourable factors. On basis of what we know of human evolution, let us try to make out those favourable factors which led to Man descending from apes. Let us begin with primitive apes, which are believed to have been ancestral to Man.
By primitive apes we are here referring to the apes living in the geological periods Miocene and Pliocene, that is nearly 20 million years ago. Their fossils have been discovered in different parts of Africa and Eurasia, including the Siwalik deposits of India. There are strong indications that the living great apes as well as Man have descended from the primitive apes.
It is important to note that the primitive apes were much less specialised than the present day apes. Mayr (1963) has quoted the following from the anthropologists Le Gros Clark and Leakey (1951) to point to lack of specialised skull features of the modern apes in the apes of Miocene and Pliocene. The anthropologists concluded, "that the characteristic features of the skulls of the African apes of to-day, such as the powerful supraorbital torus, the large circular and forwardly directed orbits associated with a strong development of their lateral margins, the broadening of the lower extremity of the nasal aperture, the extension downward and forward of the subnasal part of the premaxilla, and widening of the symphysial region of the mandible in association with a relative hypertrophy of the incisor teeth, and the development of a simian shelf, were probably all secondary developments which appeared at a later stage of evolution (i.e. beyond the primitive ape stage)".
The present day apes are specialized for brachiating, that is moving from branch to branch by swinging with the help of arms and hands. Their fore-limbs are as a result longer than hind-limbs. It is due to this difference between the two pairs of limbs that, when moving on land on all fours, the body is semierect or stooping forward, and not horizontal as in monkeys. However, this specialised feature, viz. the longer fore-limbs, was not there in the primitive apes. Describing the situation in the primitive ape, Pliopithecuse of Europe, Mayr (1963) points out, "The discovery of some fairly complete skeletons..... has revealed that this form was not yet a specialised brachiator, and that the proportions of the anterior extremities (in relation to the trunk) did not deviate materially from those of man....".
Such primitive and unspecialised apes could be fore-runners of the specialised apes of the present fauna as well as of Man. Specialised forms, like chimpanzee or gorilla, if faced with a large scale environment change, such as disappearance of forests and their replacement with grassy plains, the fate of such animals would be extinction and not modification through evolution.
Tendency to evolve in the hominid direction in the primitive apes
Some among primitive apes were with features suggesting beginning of the human family, Hominidae, while some others suggested transition to the modern apes.
The living apes differ obviously in the form and arrangement of cones, ridges and furrows on the grinding surface of cheek teeth or molars. Primatologists can easily identify the ape from the molar pattern. Chiefly on basis of molar structure Palaeosimia and Sivapithecus from among the primitive apes, known from the Siwalik foot-hills of India, have been regarded as progenitors of orangutan. (It may be pointed out here that fossils of orang have been found in the Asian mainland, though at present this ape is found only in Sumatra and Borneo.) Similarly Proconsul descending from Dryopithecus fontani - like form, has been taken to represent ancestors of chimpanzee, and Dryopithecus punjabicus as those of gorilla. The earliest known primitive ape, Parapithecus from early Caenozoic deposits of Egypt is believed to have been the starting point of not only the above mentioned phyletic lines, but also of one including Propliopithecus, Pliopithecus, and Prohylobates leading to the present day gibbon (figure 4.1).
FIG. 4.1: Evolutionary tree showing evolution for living apes and Man. * = living apes.
FIG. 4.2: Lower molar tooth pattern in some dryopithecines and the Modern Man. Note that, while in Dryopithecus chinjiensis the pattern comes close to that in modern apes, in Dryopithecus darwini, with only a small change, will become similar to that in Man. (After Nesturkh, 1967.)
Humans are characterised by a cruciform molar pattern. There are four main elevations or cusps on the molar surface, and they are nearly equal in size, and are separated by a cruciform furrow. Beginning of this molar pattern may be seen in the fossils of some dryopithecine primitive apes, Dryopithecus darwini, Ramapithecuse and Kenyapithecus. Moreover in Ramapithecus the gap or diastema between the upper canine and the first premolar tooth has disappeared as in Man. Such features suggest tendency of evolution of these primitive apes in the human direction.
Dryopithecus fontani is believed to represent the common ancestors of Dryopithecus darwini-like forms, evolving into the human family, Hominidae, and also of Proconsul, which is believed to have been ancestral to the modern chimpanzee. Thus the human family has its closest cousin in chimpanzee among the living primates.
The above account of primate fossil record provides substantial support for the notion that the primitive apes of Miocene and Pliocene have been the common ancestors of the specialised living apes as well as humans.
Prerequisites of human evolution
The fossil study, which has been summarised in the previous section, tells only a part of the story of origin of Man, because of its inherent limitation that only hard parts, bones and teeth fossilise. However, by comparing structure and life of living apes and Man, we can well imagine what other requirements, other than the features revealed by fossilised bony remains of the relatively unspecialised primitive apes, were there for the onset of the evolutionary journey in the human direction.
Apes possess increased intelligence and stereoscopic vision, as also monkeys (see experiment on "in-sight" in the Essay 2, suggesting increased intelligence in Primates). Hence there is a basis to believe that the primitive apes had these traits.
Prehensile fore-limbs are found throughout the group of Primates, being a feature of arboreal adaptation. Hence this also may be safely presumed that the primitive apes had such fore-limbs.
One important difference between living apes and Man is that the former do no have voice and speech. Chimpanzee can, however be trained to communicate with some amount of articulation, using either "Ameslan" (=American Sign Language) or a modified computer key board. Lack of voice and speech is because chimpanzee does not have such vocal cords and such lower jaw articulation as permit producing a variety of sounds. Somewhere in human evolution it seems that vocal cords became a little changed and mandibular articulation adapted for a greater variety of movements making voice and speech possible. According to Nesturkh (1967) the place of inarticulate sounds in communication was taken by articulate speech for the first time in the Neanderthal Man. We doubt if Homo erectus had speech, though Dubois, interpreting the convolutions on the frontal lobes of the brain, as seen in a cranial cast of a pithecanthropine skull, believes that this early hominid had primitive speech (Nesturkh, 1967).
Most monkey and all living apes live in herds, small or large (Nesturkh, 1967). Hence it can be presumed that the primitive apes too had the herd instinct. This situation falls readily in line with the Crowd Theory of Achildiyev (see Essay 6), and can explain the origin of human social life.
One significant difference between present day apes and Man is in the posture in their locomotion on ground. Man is erect and bipedal. His fore-limbs have become fully liberated from locomotion. In a modern ape the posture on land is semi-erect and stooping forward; while most of the body weight is carried by the lower extremities, knuckles of the long and brachiating fore-limbs reach the ground and provide supplementary support to the body. It is tempting to imagine that an ape-like semi-erect posture has changed in course of evolution to the erect posture of humans. But then we believe that the primitive apes of Miocene and Pliocene have been ancestral to Man, and, as we have noted earlier, they were having fore-limbs with almost the same proportionate length as in Man, and not as extra-long brachiating limbs. How do we explain the situation then?
On basis of fossil studies it has been inferred that long brachiating arms and the habit of brachiation have evolved independently in the four species of living apes, gibbons, orang, chimpanzee and gorilla, that is these characteristics have resulted from evolutionary parallelism (Mayr, 1963). Various skeletal features, such as position of the foramen magnum and development of the occipital torus on the skull, form of pelvis etc., suggest that posture in australopithecines, the earliest hominids known, was nearly erect. But at the same time higher location of the shoulder blade on the trunk and longer fore-limbs, suggest "that the locomotor behavior of the australopithecines' ancestors included arm-swinging or brachiation" (Eckhardt, 1979). It seems, therefore that the primitive apes of Miocene and Pliocene had potentials to evolve brachiation adaptations as well as those connected with transfer of cursorial locomotion to the hind-limbs, and that these potentials found expression repeatedly and independently among evolving anthropoids through parallel evolution along different lines.
Thus there are grounds to believe that presence of certain features or traits and evolutionary potentials in the relatively unspecialised apes of Miocene and Pliocene as a rare combination made it possible to turn the evolutionary journey in the hominid direction.
Interaction of traits in human evolution
The various traits and evolutionary potentials have interacted in various ways in the course of human evolution. These interactions have been discussed in the Essay 1. Some of them may be briefly recalled here. Growing intelligence and conceptual thinking or symbolisation, coupled with suitable vocal cords and jaws with greater freedom of movement, have led to words and speech, and in association with prehensile hands to writing and literature. Speech and writing, besides making interhuman communication efficient, have contributed significantly to development of cumulative learning or social memory. The combination of intelligence and prehensile hands have led to making and using of tools, which augmented by social memory, has developed into a highly complex technology. Speech and capacity to make drawings, using object-holding hands, have permitted expression of esthetic feelings and development of arts. Thus the traits interaction has resulted in development of the whole complex called civilization. It is said that intelligent dolphins could evolve their own civilization, if they had prehensile limbs. One may add another similar statement-blessed with human vocal cords chimpanzee could have a language resembling humans.
From the foregoing account an inference is obvious, that appearance of relatively unspecialized apes in Miocene and Pliocene with a unique combination of traits and potentials made human evolution possible. The traits and potentials have interacted in a complex way resulting in a singularly astounding (and also destructive) phenomenon of the organic world, the development of human civilization.
5. THE PROBLEM OF EQUALITY
Equality or equal status for all is a sociological need. Efforts to achieve equality, inspite of prejudices, based on caste, profession, earthly/physical belongings etc., started quite early in human history. Several religious leaders tried to undo the caste system. Different religions promoted "daan"/alms/donations to reduce the extent of material inequality. Such efforts have continued to date. Even then we are far from having established equality in our society. Why have we not succeeded?
Let us take an extreme example. Recently in the Soviet Union, a big sociological experiment failed completely. It has been an experiment with communism, and communism is based on the principle of equality. Failure of the Russian communism took place inspite of careful and rational shaping of the social structure, ignoring all traditions, myths and taboos. Kapitza (1991b), a Russian Professor of Physics, writing on anti-science trends in the USSR, has described the Russian communist society as "a society that until recently was purportedly proscientific, rational and even 'scientifically' designed". Then why has the experiment failed? Another example of reversal from hard core communism: China, though still professing to tow communist lines, is experimenting with open or market economy with encouraging results. Vietnam is following the lead (Kaiser, 1994).
One reason for failure of communism may be pinpointed; the communist planning did not take into account the biological variability in a human population. It would be more correct to say that the variability was willfully ignored. Infact there is need to redefine equality in view of biological variations. Let us become familiar with the phenomenon of variation in an organic population before proceeding further with our discussion.
Variability is a rule in the organic world. In a population individuals differ among themselves in their various features, such as height, complexion, proportion of different organs, intellectual capacity, general body build etc.. Such differences have been referred to also as individual variations. Infact such variations ascribe individuality to members of a population. To a foreigner all Chinese may look alike at the first sight, but a little familiarity with a Chinese population will reveal that individuals in the population have their own peculiar features, and thus each is as much individually recongnisable as any other. Seeds, collected from the same plant, when sown, produce plants, showing varations in numerous different features. Infact a population of any organic species presents such varations.
Individual variations are known to be of two kinds, genetic and environmental. Genetic variations are due to changes in genes or the genetic material (technically such changes are called mutations), and also due to recombination and reassortment of such changed and normal genes during production of gametes , that is sperms and ova, and during fertilization. Genetic varations will appear, even if two individuals grow up and live under uniform environmental conditions. Environmental variations, on the other hand are due varying conditions of the environment. An individual plant, growing in a well lighted and well irrigated part of a garden plot becoming taller and healthier than another plant of the same variety, which is not getting enough light and water, is an example of environmental varation. Another example: an almost oriental browning of skin shown by an English sailor spending most of his time exposed to harsh sun.
In the human species, among the environmental factors, cultural influences play a very important role in determining the non-genetic part of variability. Infact cultural inheritance, that is inheritance not due to genes but due to influence of the cultural surroundings, in which one grows up, plays a significant part in shaping individuality in Man. Such features, as state of health, feeding habits, language, tendency to obey or violate prevalent social laws and moral codes etc., are determined to a considerable extent by the cultural environment. Often it is very difficult to decide whether a particular human trait is genetically or culturally controlled or is under influence of both. Though cultural inheritance is important in shaping individuality, one should not underestimate the role of genetic inheritance. As Mayr (1963), discussing humans as a biological species, puts it, "...(genetic) inheritance does play a considerable role and it can only do harm to ignore this role".
In this context it may be pointed out that the human species presents a lot of variability. In fact humans are more variable than most other animal species. The factors, accentuating human variability, include : (i) reduced selection pressure due to cultural/technological protection, and (ii) human restlessness and large scale migrations, which were taking place even very early in history, when technologically advanced transport was not available. Such migrations resulted in genetic intermixing among geographical isolates. This situation has been mainly responsible for the human species not speciating any further.
It is a fundamental concept of the present day science of Genetics that environmental variations do not affect the genetic mechanism, and are not genetically inherited, though some environmental factors, such as ultra-violet radiation, nuclear radiations and some chemical irritants, accelerate the process of mutations. Children of a 'brown' English sailor will have normal 'white' skin, until they themselves take to sailor's life.
Individual variations permit adaptations to different environmental conditions and needs, and are significant for survival of the species. They help a fine distribution of labour, as is found in the human society. They are significant also from the standpoint of evolution. It is believed that Darwinian selection occurs on the basis of the genetic part of the individual variations. In animal and plant breeding selection to get desired varieties on the basis of genetic variations.
Lamarckism and Russian Genetics
A French biologist, Lamarck, who came before Darwin and who also wrote about organic evolution, had a different story to tell. He believed that individual variations were all due to use and disuse of organs and effect of environment. According to him the more an organ is used the better developed it becomes. Further he believed that variations among individuals, acquired through extent of use of organs and effect of varying environmental conditions, become absorbed in the hereditary mechanism, and thus they become a part of heredity. Two populations of a species, living in different areas, isolated from each other, may thus come to absorb different changes into their heredity, as their conditions of life and environmental needs may differ. They may become, due to such changes, different subspecies, or given more time different species. Thus new species are formed.
The present century has witnessed a rapid development of the science of Genetics. We have even achieved capability of tinkering with genes, and doing what we call Genetic Engineering. As we have learnt more and more about mechanism of inheritance, we have developed a better insight into the mechanism of evolution, because evolution is only descent with modification. While Darwin's concept of selection (with some changes) and Lamarck's concept of isolation of similar populations have been accepted as essential parts of the mechanism of evolution, Lamarck's concept of inheritance of variations, acquired through use and disuse of organs and effect varying conditions of environment, has not been found acceptable. The unacceptable concept of Lamarck has been referred to as the Lamarckian Principle or Lamarckism. In this context it may be noted that parental imprinting of the genic set is known, but the imprinting effect is temporary and erasable (Sapienza, 1990).
The science of Genetics, however "progressed" along different lines is USSR. Though there were such front-line geneticists in Russia as Koltsov, Sakharov, Dubinin, Chetverikov, Vavilov and Timofeyev-Resovskiy during 1920s, T. Lysenko, who was personally known to Stalin, came up with a revolutionary theory of Genetics, and could catch fancy of politicians. Lysenko's theory may be referred to as Neo-Lamarckism. According to this theory changes, produced in organisms as environmental effects, become incorporated in the hereditary mechanism, and thus organisms undergo genetic changes (Lysenko, 1953). In support he pointed out his experiments on vernalization of wheat, which were only incompletely described and could not be repeated elsewhere in the world. (By treating a winter variety of wheat with moisture at a low temperature it can be made to flower early like a spring variety. This effect, called vernalization of wheat, was known to western scientists, but they found the effect temporary and environmental. Lysenko, however claimed that by bringing about vernalization in a special way a permanent hereditary spring variety could be produced. The special way was never disclosed to the world.) Some contemporary Russian biologists offered similar inconclusive and unverifiable experimental support. Stalin personally supported Lysenko's views. Julian Huxley, after his visit to USSR along with some other English biologists to have first hand information about this revolutionary development of Genetics, described Lysenko's Genetics (which had come to be known in 1940 as the Russian Genetics) as a political controversy in the disguise of a scientific revolution. Kapitza (1991a), discussing the state of Soviet science, says, "Basic research in Biology was dealt a deadly blow by Lysenko".
Neo-Lamarckism or the Russian Genetics seemed to agree well with the communist philosophy. Given uniform environment, uniformly able and useful citizens would be produced. Stalin's support gave it further strength. Thus wishful neglect of the genetic part of biological variability continued.
Leaving genetic variability completely out of consideration has been one of the factors leading to failure of communes as production units. A person, who was not inherently inclined to hard labour and who would idle away his time in a commune farm, had an undesirable effect on others in the commune. The role of this factor could be seen also in some members of a Chinese commune, before the period of the 'great leap', working extra in their private kitchen gardens and animal farms, and thus affording to spend on Hong Kong luxuries, while others were critical of them for their capitalists' tendencies. Ignoring the existence of genetic variations also led to lack of appreciation of the situation that all in a society would not think alike, and even if someone reasonably expressed his dissent against some part of the existing system, he was branded as bourgeois agent, and he was criticised and punished. All repression of the rigid communist rule and all the heavy indoctrination, accompanying it, led to apparent uniformity of thinking and ideology. As soon as the repression was removed, which happened with introduction of Mikhail S. Gorbachev's "perestroika", not only diversity of opinion came to surface, but there also appeared a reaction so strong that the Soviet Union broke up into a number of independent nations.
With "perestroika" came open acceptance by Russian authors of unscientific nature of the Russian Genetics, which flourished during the days of Stalin and Khrushchev. As the Russian biologists Surikov and Zakharov (1991) have written, "The gloomy epoch of Lysenko's rule ended after Stalin's death and Khrushchev's removal from power in 1964, but effects of persecution of Genetics are felt even to-day".
Such disenchantment with socialism has not been confined to USSR. Describing "New" China Butterfield (1992) said "....... Deng (Xiaoping) allowed a return of family farming in the country side, permitted the revival of private enterprise and tried to introduce the profit motive in industry". Similar changes in Vietnam have been hinted at in the introduction part of this essay. Johnson (1992), referring to the victory of the Conservatives over Labour in British parliamentary elections, said, ".... interviews with voters leaving the polls made it clear that Labours' call for redistribution of wealth held less appeal than the Conservatives' promise of greater economic opportunity." This greater economic opportunity actually means opportunity to struggle and compete. Struggle and competition improve not only individual performance but also performance of the population as a whole. Biologically speaking struggle and competition are ingredients of the mechanism of development of adaptations.
Equality in Biological Perspective
Having become familiar with the genetic part of individual variability let us now turn to the problem of equality in scientific perspective. While a human population exhibits rich variability, humanity demands equality. The demand is based on sympathy and good-will for the like, and it has it roots in the instinct for species survival, and it has become accentuated by the social instincts. (As Hinde, 1974 has pointed out, human social behaviour is guided by several different instincts.) A leading modern evolutionist, Dobzhansky has clarified that equality is a social or ethical concept, and not a biological one. The modern pioneer taxonomist Mayr (1963) has said "Equality inspite of evident non-identity is a somewhat sophisticated concept, and requires a moral stature of which many individuals seem incapable". Sophistication, in this statement, obviously refers to a high placement in the scale of human refinement and morality, and to the capacity to decide socially wrong and right. That these human qualities are necessary for achieving true equality will be appreciated when going through the following discussion.
Equality, according to Mayr (1963), means "equal opportunity to all to make the best of one's genetic endowment". In view of genetic variability identical opportunity to all will not mean real equality. In the present human society there is such a fine distribution of labour that vast majority of us can find, inspite of our variability, a suitable or near suitable social "niche" each. The main constraints in this are the following:
material inheritance. Such inheritance determines in most cases the facility
with which one is able to get trained for and reach a suitable social niche.
(Material inheritance means inheritance of wealth, property and social status.)
(b) Social prejudices. An individual may be specially suited for a particular job, but he/his elders/people around him may be having an unfavourable opinion of the career.
(c) Large population size. This does not permit the society to pay attention to needs, including genetic needs, of individuals.
From the above discussion it is obvious that to control or to minimise the influence of material inheritance on development of individual career would be a necessary step in society's efforts to achieve true equality. Our perception of social niches has also to change. There are a number of trades or jobs, which are not glamorous from the current standards, but are essential for running the society. We have to learn taking them this way, and should appreciate the dignity of labour. Haldane (1949) pointed to the need of "tolerance of those who fail to conform to standards which may be culturally desirable but not essential for functioning of the society". If a society were made up only of faithful copies of the most cultured members of the present society, such a society will not only be drab but also incapable of functioning and surviving. For negating/reducing the effect of all the three constraints to achieving true social equality, educated thinking is a prerequisite. Equality in education is another but relevant problem.
Equality in Education
Pupils in a class vary as much among themselves as members of any population. It follows, therefore that identical teaching to all would not mean equality. Teaching should vary in rate and contents from pupil to pupil. When all are to be educated, impracticability of this situation is obvious. However, a situation close to this may be achieved by dividing students of a class, as per their learning capacity and aptitude, into batches, and the teacher paying attention separately to the batches. In doing this size/density of population will be a major constraint.
Mayr (1963), referring to the present common policy of the same education to all, says, ".... the free spirits of young men and women should not be shackled by leveling restrictions of a false identicism".
The foregoing discussion clearly brings out two prime needs for social improvement, one to develop general awareness to the facts of life, and two to control population size. At the same time it should be realized that all well directed efforts to achieve equality will only lead to less of inequality, a situation sociologically more desirable than the present disparity. Another desirable situation would be to have room for a fair amount of competition in the society.
6. WAR - A BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
What is war?
In biological terms war may be defined as an organized conflict between two groups of individuals belonging to the same species. It is almost a human innovation.
The famous biologist-philosopher Julian Huxley (1959) pointed out that in the animal kingdom war was an extremely rare phenomenon, found only in the human species and in certain ants, called the harvester ants. These ants live in arid areas, and are in the habit of collecting in their nests grass seeds as provision for future use. Often inhabitants of one nest launch an organised attack on another nest of the same species to snatch away the stored food. Usually this leads to heavy casualties on either side. It is interesting to note that both in Man and in the harvester ants one of the factors leading to war is amassing of wealth or property. No other species shows true war.
It is important to realize that the two groups, involved in war, are of the same biological species. Among animals often there are group conflicts, but the two groups, involved in the conflict, belong to distinct species. Worker ants, from a colony of Formica sanguinea, may at times attack a colony of Formica fusca to catch the fusca workers and bring them into their own colony as "slaves". There is a conflict between the attackers and the attacked. This case is analogous to war, but cannot be called a war, as the conflicting groups are not conspecific. Another analogous situation: a pack of wolves attacking a herd of deer.
Is war a biological need?
Animals, including humans, have an instinct for aggression. This instinct leads to fighting between individuals of the same species for food, mate or territory. It finds expression in wars in the human species. The instinct is useful, as it produces struggle, helps selection and thus leads to better adaptation of the population to the existing environment.
Lorenz (1970), the author of the well known book, "On Aggression", in his long essay "On killing members of one's own species", describes two different situations for expression of the aggression instinct. Situation number 1: the individuals of a species do not live in groups, i.e. they are not gregarious or social. In such a species the instinct of aggression finds uninhibited expression, and often leads to death of the loser in the conflict. On the other hand, if a species is gregarious or social, the instinct of aggression is counter-balanced or moderated by an inhibitory instinct, the instinct of species or race preservation (situation number 2).
Let us see a few example of the situation number 1. Pike is a fish with solitary habits. A large pike eats up a small member of its own species. Lorenz (1970) says that once he came across a pike within a pike within a pike. Some fishes are prolific breeders. In such a species, if some members get killed, it does not mean a serious threat to the continued existence of the species, and an adult often eats up, along with small fish, young ones of its own species.
Now let us turn to the situation number 2. In most species of bony fishes living is gregarious, and within species fight is a much milder affair. Such fight mostly involves threatening and intimidation techniques. Fins and gills may be extended, and broad side may be presented to the rival. Side way push, a stroke with the tail and such other non-damaging and intimidating methods are used. Lorenz (1970) cites specially the case of small bony fishes called cichlids, which are very efficient predators, and have fierce fighting habits. They would attack and eat up anything alive, but not members of their own species. They take good care of their young ones. There is often fierce fight among members of the same cichlid species, but the losing contestant does not get killed. Role of the species survival instinct is obvious.
A particularly good illustrative instance of the self preservation instinct we saw in one of the TV serials of the National Geographic Society. This one was on the African lions. When a prey had been killed by the mother lion, all the cubs shared the prey, and in the process each would try to get as large a share as possible. In the ensuing struggle, which was quite fierce, a cub may try to grab rival's neck between its jaws, but would not actually bite. No cub would be killed. The gravest injury, caused by all the use of teeth and claws, would be a few scratches, and a few drops of blood trickling out of them. Here is an obvious case of intraspecific struggle with some cubs getting more food than others, and an equally obvious moderation role played by the species survival instinct.
Man, with his highly developed social pattern of life, has both, the instinct of aggression as well as the instinct of self preservation or species survival. Individual quarrels and wars are expression of the former instinct, and all the philanthropy of the latter. Lorenz (1970) points out that Man is most hesitant to kill those forms life, which are most like him-self. While he does not feel much of hesitation in crushing an insect, he will feel a lot of repulsion to killing and dismembering a rabbit. A butcher, to attain his livelihood, learns to overcome the hesitation and repulsion. Role of the instinct for preservation of the like is readily discernible in these instances.
Man in his consciousness has developed religions and morals. All religions preach sympathy and kindness for fellowmen. Lorenz (1970) asks, when we feel pity for another human individual or take to a kind act, does this attitude or action originate "in the deepest prehuman layers of our personality or whether it is the result of our highest ability - the power to reason"? In other words the question is whether our attitude/action is under influence of a primitive instinct or due to our conscious and reasoning mind, which has received religious and moral training. Though one is generally inclined to take such a behaviour or attitude as a result of religious and moral education, Lorenz prefers to take the species preservation instinct as an important factor in determining this attitude, albeit the instinct and religion tend to reinforce each other's effect. In the opinion of the authors of these lines religions with their moral codes, during their development, have been guided by the basic instinct of species survival as well as by the social instincts. That is why they, however different in their mythologies and rituals, have quite similar ethical component. In-fact the so called religion-free communism, based on the concept of equality for all, also has its roots in these instincts.
Then why does Man kill so ruthlessly during war? According to Lorenz (1970) there is one situation when the inhibitory effect of the species preservation instinct totally disappears. According to him, "Any trace of pity disappears instantly if we are in serious fear of the attacking animal or human". Agreeing with him we would like to add that war psychology, shaped by teaching of war ethics and propaganda, narrows the area of allegiance and pity. Now a man feels oneness with the group he is fighting for, rather than with the humanity at large. In-fact communication gap and misunderstanding between the conflicting groups increase so much in extent that to members of one group those of the other seem to be another species.
Lorenz (1970) mentions another reason for large scale killing in a modern war. He says that the instinct for preservation of the like specially makes it-self felt in one who sees the suffering and hears the cries of a dying man. A warrior fighting with his sword is more likely to be affected this way than a modern soldier using his weapon for distance killing. The pilot of a modern fighter plane goes on pressing switches for releasing bombs and rockets without having their sense of pity aroused by the sight of killing and destruction they are effecting.
In view of well developed social organisation, religions and morals, which have come up on the foundation on the self preservation instinct, wars do not appear a natural or biological need, though occasional skirmishes, due to communication gap or uneducated/inadequate leadership, are not unexpected among human follies, and follies are expected in a relatively instinct free and intelligent species.
Origin of war
Wars have been fought since very early days of human history. Even in prehistorical and early historical paintings, left by primitive Man in caves and rock shelters, war scenes have been depicted.
A clue to the origin of war is in the Crowd Theory of human evolution, given by Igor Achildiyev, the author of book "Power of Prehistory" (Goldman, 1991). This author has discussed the circumstances, in which Man differentiated from apes. He has referred to four hypotheses, given by earlier authors, to explain the circumstances, and has found them all unsatisfactory. Then he has given his own hypothesis, the Crowd Theory. Out of the earlier hypotheses here we shall briefly discuss only one, the one which is generally accepted by anthropologists. This hypothesis may be referred to as "Descent from trees" hypothesis. It is not doubted now that Man has descended from primitive apes, which have been forerunners also of the modern apes. Like the present apes, the ancestral apes were arboreal and brachiating, i.e. moving from branch to branch by swinging with fore-limbs. Hence their fore-limbs were prehensile, i.e. capable of holding objects like tree branches. When at the dawn of the human family the evolving ape descended from trees and took to life on grass lands, his posture on the ground was semi-erect, as in the present chimpanzee, In this posture the body is stooping forward, with hind-limbs carrying out most of locomotion, and the fore-limbs merely touching the ground. The evolving Man found it advantageous to transfer all locomotion to the hind-limbs, and to retain fore-limbs for grasping and modifying foreign objects as weapons and tools. Thus he took to an erect posture, when moving on land.
Achildiyev, as has been mentioned above, rejected this hypothesis. His main objection: several other animals also changed from life on trees to that on grass land or savanna, but they did not evolve into bipedal forms. This objection speaks of his lack of training in Biology. Infact Achildiyev is a lawyer, who has taken Philosophical Anthropology as a hobby. Into which form an organism evolves is determined not only by the demands of the environment, but also by evolutionary tendencies and potentials of the organism. Though the Crowd Theory of Achildiyev was intended by the author as an alternative to the "Descent from trees" hypothesis, it is a supplement to the latter.
According to the Crowd Theory the period of transition from life on trees to that on savanna was a period of stress for the evolving Man, as one pattern of life was giving place to another. Now the evolving Man had to locomote by a new method, face new kinds of enemies, and had to collect new kinds of food. Achildiyev says, "...... in any critical situation, whatever its cause, a more or less large group of individuals is formed acting according to the laws of imitation". Hence groups or crowds were formed. Bipedalism meant a disadvantage to the evolving man; as Achildiyev has put it, "... when anthropoids were only transferring to vertical walk their defensive and offensive abilities reduced drastically, because it is easier to run on all fours quicker and less tiresome as muscles of each leg have more time to rest". It is to be remembered that in a grass covered field the best way to escape from a predator is to run away fast, and bipedalism is a hindrance in this. Under these conditions the habit of living in a crowd had a selective advantage. As the author visualizes, a crowd of early humans, running towards a predator, shouting and howling, and wielding stones and sticks with their hands, would be a formidable sight, enough frightening to drive away even the most dreaded predator. Thus living in crowd continued.
Achildiyev, however has not been the originator of the Crowd Theory. Several authors expressed similar views before him. Bates (1963), writing on "Man in Nature", said, "Man, as solitary individual, is basically helpless, despite his vaunted intelligence. If we try visualize the life of the human animal in the Old Stone Age, we realize that only cooperating groups could catch needed animal food or ward off enemies such as the big cats". Achildiyev is notable for elaboration of the concept.
Territoriality is a well established instinct in many animals. Every individual occupies a well defined territory and actively defends it against conspecific invaders. Territoriality defense is particularly evident in the breeding season in birds. Andrewartha (1970), in his book on animal populations, points out that territoriality is for ensuring adequate resources to the occupants. A territory may be occupied by single individual, a couple or by a number of individuals. To illustrate the last situation Andrewartha (1970) mentions the example of the Australian Magpie, Gymnorhina dorsalis, which lives in the form of 'tribes', each tribe consisting of 2 to 12 birds. A very large area in Australia, consisting of several thousand acres, was found divided into a large number of territories, and each territory was occupied by one tribe of the bird.
In Man the sense of territoriality is strongly developed, as shown by Ardrey (1967) in his book "The Territorial Imperative'. Human nationalism and patriotism have their origin in the territorial instinct.
If territoriality and crowd living are put to-gether, we may readily visualise the origin of war. If a territory, occupied by one crowd or group, is invaded by another group, war would result.
FIG. 6.1: Warriors on move. Early historical painting on a rock surface, Bhimbetka, near Bhopal, Central India.
FIG. 6.2: An artist's attempt to illustrate Achildiyev's Crowd Theory of human evolution. According to this theory the habit of evolving man of moving about in a crowd promoted bipedalism.
Does war help in improving the human species?
An attempt is sometimes made to prove that wars as biologically meaningful. It is said that war reduces population pressure, leads to Darwinian selection in favour of strength and manly virtues. That small scale primitive tribal wars had some advantages has to be accepted. They led to lessening of population pressure and to some heritage mixing between otherwise close bred communities. But modern wars, total wars, as they are called, are gravely disadvantageous to the human species. The large scale killing of able bodied persons certainly does not lead to any favourable change. The human species is characterised mainly by its civilization or culture, which is based on its social memory, and centres of the social memory are our museums, libraries, institutions of learning and technical establishments, most of which heavily suffer in wars. Thus wars are contrary to preservation and development of culture.
War essentially involves an intraspecific struggle. In a modern war the struggle is so much exaggerated that the species is too weakened for interspecific struggles, which are many sided and are significant for survival of the species. For example insects, with their remarkable reproductive potential and also well marked capacity to develop resistance to insecticides, and microorganisms, often developing resistance to antibiotics and ever emerging in new disease forms, are severe challenges to the human species.
War and human group organisation
Any functional group of human individuals presents a certain uniform organisation, which has been candidly brought out by Berne (1973). He illustrates this organisation by taking a simple example, which is being discussed below.
One Mr. X claims to have some supernatural powers and ability to communicate with "souls". In order to demonstrate his special attributes and impress people he has invited a small gathering in his drawing room. He is sitting in a central position with his gadgets. Around him are seated the audience. Mrs. X and some close family friends are moving about, getting people seated, maintaining order in the room, looking to the needs and convenience of Mr. X etc.. Infact they are behaving as go-betweens for Mr. X and the audience. There are some more friends of Mr.X, who are taking care of external work, such as distribution of invitation cards, arranging for necessary furniture, guarding at the periphery so that there are no undesirable intruders etc..
Now let us analyse this functional group. Mr. X is obviously the leader of the group, while the audience are members. In a tribe the tribal head is the leader, while in a democratic state the legislative body is the leader, i.e. there is collective leadership. Citizens of a nation are comparable to the audience in the above described gathering. There is an invisible but definite line of separation between the leader's position and the audience/citizens area, the "Major Internal Line". Mrs. X and the family friends, who are maintaining order and are taking care of the convenience of the audience, and are also behaving as go-between the leader and the audience/citizens are to be compared to the home department and the police of a country; they are referred to as the "Internal Apparatus". The friends helping the group at the periphery are comparable to the external affairs department, defence services and the embassies of a nation. They have been called the "External Apparatus" of the group.
A group, such as the one described above, may suffer from a number of different kinds of disturbances. Some members of the audience may challenge the genuineness of the proceedings and may express skepticism, they may insist on doing so inspite of efforts on part of the internal apparatus to calm them down (conflict number 1, see figure 6.3). There may be a conflict among the audience, say, when some are expressing skepticism, some others are asking them to keep silent and not to disturb the proceedings (conflict number 2). Some neighbours may approach the police, reporting to them that black magic is being practiced in their locality, and demand that it should be stopped. Police may enter the drawing room of Mr. X and disturb the gathering inspite of resistance from external apparatus (conflict number 3). Conflict number 1 may be compared with a civil war in a country, conflict number 2 with gang warfare, and conflict number 3 with a typical war involving foreign invasion.
In all the three kinds of war two main factors are involved, viz. territoriality and leadership. In conflict number 3 the territory of group is violated, and victory of the invaders is not complete unless the leadership is won over. In gang wars or conflict number 2 two minor leaders, around whom gangs have been formed, are involved, and also minor membership territories around them. If the internal apparatus is not able to pacify the conflicting gangs, the gangs may look to the leadership area for support, and with this the conflict may change to conflict number 1. Conflict number 1 is obviously a challenge to the leader, and the leader among the challenging group is the potential leader of the whole territory in question. Thus the primitive instincts of leadership and territoriality are involved in all the different kinds of war. Among group living or gregarious mammals the leadership instinct is generally well marked. The instinct for territoriality has been discussed earlier.
War of any kind is obviously undesirable, because it leads to suspension of the normal functioning of the group, as under condition of war maintaining integrity of group, through protection of its leader and territory, becomes of paramount importance. In the above described example Mr. X, on being disturbed by a war-like situation, will suspend his supernatural demonstration, which is clearly the main function of the group. Now he and his associates will take steps to restore order in the gathering. In case of a country, which is a welfare state, on start of a war, the welfare work will be mostly suspended.
Wars may be avoided, if leadership is strong and popular in the membership area, and also if the internal and the external apparatus are adequate to resist any "misadventurist" forces trying to start a war.
FIG. 6.3: Diagramatic representation of organisation of afunctional human group, with nature of human conflicts indicated.Conflict No. 1 - a civil war. Conflict No. 2 - a gang war. Conflict No. 3 - a foreign invasion. (The figure includes some features of diagrams by Eric Berne.)
It is a general belief that tribal people everywhere have been feroceous and war-loving. This myth has been broken by Ferguson (1992), who has carried out researches, along with Neil Whitehead, on history of tribal wars. In his 1992 article he has demonstrated that invasion and activities by colonialists have created unbalances among tribals, and have been promoting tribal wars. In this respect tribals have been mostly misrepresented by colonialists, who have tried to make their adventures more colourful, have wanted to prove their racial superiority, and have tried to disown the credit (?) of divide and rule.
What should we do about wars?
Thus war, which is a human innovation, is not a biological necessity. It can be avoided, and should be avoided, as it is antagonistic to development of human civilization and culture. Modern warfare is so extensively destructive that it is a serious threat to the existence of humans and other species on this planet.
War is a compounded expression of instincts of aggression, territoriality and leadership, and of gregarious/social living. As Julian Huxley has suggested, the instinct of aggression may be usefully expressed through competitive sports. If the leader is popular and enjoys support of most of the civilians, and if internal and external defences are strong enough to repress a misadventurist, wars should be largely avoided. A collective leadership, chosen by people, is to be preferred to monarchy or dictatorship, which involves the risk of a person, with psychological repressions, coming up as a leader and behaving as (using expression of Huxley, 1959) "a jealous God" or "an infallible Fuhrer", and creating situations of war. It should be remembered that colonialism, including neo-colonialism, which amounts to economic subjugation of smaller nations, promotes war.
Above all, people have to be educated about the wastefulness of war, and about the urgent need to conserve resources. The need for global efforts to protect and conserve environment has been beautifully brought out by US Ambassador Stevenson, who gave the "Space-ship Earth" concept in his 1966 address before UNESCO in Geneva (Khozin, 1976). He compared the planet earth with a small space-craft, which was being shared by people of all nationalities. As in a small space-craft, resources are limited on the earth, and there is need for protection, conservation and recycling of the resources, which can be achieved only through international cooperation. The concept brings out the need to make our nationalism compatible with internationalism. Shall we go international without violating the feelings of territoriality and leadership ? There are ways to achieve it. As Taylor (1974), discussing Canadian nationalism and internationalism, points out that the way to solve gobal environmental problems is to form a supranational tier of sociopolitical organisations. Such organisations are being formed, and they are getting some degree of success also. Ross (1974) has described the various steps taken and the various commissions/bodies formed by Canada and USA to solve their mutual problems, chiefly concerning common rivers and lakes. Many other countries too are frequently arranging meetings of their representatives to settle bilateral and multilateral issues. SARC, British Commonwealth, European Economic Community etc. are bodies, which have proven quite viable and have served to solve many problems. With spread of such international efforts, and such efforts becoming more rational, less instinctive and free from colonialists'/neocolonialists' tendencies, wars should become a thing of the past.
7. NATIONALISM AND INTERNATIONALISM
What is nationalism?
Nationalism is the concern one feels for the nation-state, of which he is a citizen, concern for nation's security, integrity, development and prestige. Nationalism comes to a person easily and naturally. Tell an illiterate and poorly informed villager that a part of his nation's territory has been invaded and occupied by forces of another nation, his immediate response would be that of anger and pain. On being told that his nation's hockey team has won a match with another nation's team, he will express satisfaction and happiness. Such responses do not require any education or indoctrination in nationalism.
Nationalistic responses, mentioned above, lend support to the view that nationalism is only an expression of the primitive animal instinct of territoriality. This instinct, including group territoriality, has been discussed in Essay 6.
Erosion of nationalism
As Roy (1996) has pointed out, a number of changes in society have been eroding nationalism "both from above and below". Such changes as development of efficient and very fast means of communication and travel, of global media like satellite T.V. and internet, spread of multinational commercial giants, and formation of trasnational groups for cultural, political and trade purposes, for example the European Economic Community, SARC, the British Commonwealth compel people to think internationally, that is the upper limit of nationalism. On the other hand in ever increasing crowds (due to population explosion, urban growth and industrialisation) people try to search for their identity by asking for autonomy in the name of language, region, religion and ethnic group. Infact the way religious fundamentalism is raising its head now is surprising. Such tendencies are resulting in narrow nationalism, and nations breaking up into smaller nations. Roy (1996) points out that in 1989 there were nine nation-states in communist Europe, and now there are 27 nation-states. Canada recently came quite close to breaking up into French and English speaking parts. The story of the former Yugoslavia is well known. Some have expressed the fear that India also is about to break up into smaller nations.
Nationalism vs. internationalism
Erosion at the upper end of nationalism blurs the boundary between nationalism and internationalism. One extreme we can theoretically visualise is removal of all political nation-state boundaries and the resultant one-nation-world. But, as can be readily realized, this is not feasible. Every geographical area has its own local problems and assets, and they have to be managed locally. Besides a healthy and "civilized" competition among nation-states is a stimulus to progress.
But nationalism, as it is, has some obvious demerits. Rivalry between two nations may become so deep and chronic that it may take on pathological proportions. The game of cricket between Pakistan and India has reached this stage. If Pakistan loses a cricket match playing against India, it is catastrophe in that country. If India wins against Pakistan, even the Indian Parliament congratulates the Indian team, something not given if the win is against another country, say Australia. When relations are such between two countries, war is a grave possibility. As discussed in Essay 6, wars at present are so destructive that we should do all possible to avoid them.
There is another negative feature of nationalism. A large and well developed nation-state may start behaving as a "big brother". With rapid industrialisation and high material standards of its people, USA has nearly exhausted its natural resources. Now it has started suggesting coordinated exploitation of minerals and oil in the North America, including Canada. Canadians are naturally worried, as they are about to lose their natural resources. Describing this situation Taylor (1976) painfully said, "There is a widely-held belief in Canada that what the United States wants, the United States gets". In this context he pointed out, "At present time, the United States comprising some six percent of world's population, is consuming upwards of half the planet's resources - to a large degree through its control of vast deposits of minerals and fuels all over the world - while contributing close to half of the pollution".
What should we do about nationalism?
We consider it is neither wise nor feasible to do away with nationalism and national boundaries. It is also true that nationalism, as it is, often takes us close to war. Then what should we do about nationalism ?
Obviously, in view of new needs and circumstances, it should be "educated nationalism", and not primitive and raw nationalism. People should be educated on the following points.
(a) At least the better informed amongst the citizens should have the feeling of world citizenship. People of another nation-state should not appear such strangers that they seem to be another species. Such extreme alienation is conducive to hostility. Frequent exchange of people among nations, in connection with commerce, sports, academic and cultural persuits, generates familiarity and friendliness.
(b) In a democratic set-up the government of a country reflects thoughts and aspirations of people. The people should clearly realize that their peace, prosperity and stability depend on different nations mutually respecting each other's integrity and sovereignty.
(c) Of late we have become acutely aware of the large scale damage humans have unwittingly inflicted on our environment. Many of the ecological problems are such that they can be tackled only through international cooperation. Let us see a few examples.
(i) In the outer or stratosphere part of the earth's atmosphere is a layer rich in ozone, which acts as a shield against the ultraviolet (UV) component of the solar radiation. If most of UV radiation is not cut off by the ozone layer, it will have a pronounced cancer producing effect and also other undesirable effects on humans and other organisms. CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) and certain other compounds, prepared and released in industrial activities, have been depleting the ozone layer. This problem was considered in 1987 in an international convention, the Montreal Protocol. The decisions, taken in the convention, were amended in London in 1990. According to the decisions 15 CFCs and some other compounds were to be gradually phased out. Observations made in 1994 revealed that the measures taken under the Montreal Protocol had yielded encouraging results. It was noted that during 1980s there was a steady 4% increase yearly in the atmospheric concentration of CFCs. But this rate of increase was found to have fallen to 2% yearly in 1994 (Cowen, 1994). Studies in Australia in 1994 have led to the inference that by 2030 AD the atmospheric concentration of ozone destroying substances will return to the 1970s level. The success in tackling this problem could not have been achieved without taking to international coordination.
(ii) In the early part of this century and in earlier times (even in the Biblical period) locusts caused acute problems. Huge locust swarms were formed at an interval of 3 to 4 years, they covered long distances and ate away nearly all vegetation in their way. There would be famine in all the countries covered by the swarm. Locusts breed and swarms are formed in oases in deserts. As the number of locusts and their population density increase in such a breeding area, the insects start showing some special structural and behavioural features, and also a tendency to form a swarm and to migrate. Soon after a swarm leaves. The most effective and economical way of locust control is to monitor the locust population in a breeding area, and to reduce the population density by application of insecticides, when the incipient swarming stage has reached. Exchange of locust information and coordination among different nation-states in a desert area are necessary; otherwise the effect of timely application of control measures in one country may be diluted by lack of similar efforts in another country in the area. Moreover information about incipient swarm formation from one country to its neighbour helps the latter to forearm it-self to fight the possible swarm. By taking to such coordinated efforts the locust problem had become almost non-existent, but due to frequent skirmishes and discord among countries in the Middle East and North Africa in recent times, swarms of the desert locusts have again stared invading the northern part of the Indian sub-continent.
(iii) With spread of industrialisation there is increased accumulation of CO2 and other green house gases, resulting in global warming. This will not only affect climate and agriculture but will also bring about a reduction in the quantity of water stored as ice in the polar regions, as a consequence of which some coastal areas of each continent will become submerged. Through coordinated efforts of about 1000 scientists from more than 70 countries it has been inferred that in the next 100 years Earth's temperature will increase between 1 to 3.5 degrees Celsius, and the sea level will increase by 15 to 95 cms. (News item, 1996). [see Nature 1997 paper, quoted in EJAIB] Global warming will create new health problems, and there will be additional deaths every year, though in some quarters these predictions have been doubted (White, 1990; News item, 1996a). Nevertheless it is wise to study the problem in coordination, so as to take timely steps to avert a possible catastrophe, as seen in COP3 conference held in Kyoto in 1997.
(d) It should be clearly realised that a nation is not a nation just on basis of one language, religion or race. The necessary binding force for a nation is a complex called "common cultural heritage", which comes from a long history of living to-gether. Demanding breaking up of a large nation into several smaller ones on basis of language, religion or race is neither natural nor politically wise. Smaller nations have fewer resources, and they fall easy prey to economic subjugation or neo-colonialism. In a large nation there may be several religions, languages, or races. But the multiplicity of religion/language/race adds colour to the national life. Mutual respect and tolerance should help removing fear of loss of religious/lingual/racial identity among citizens of a nation with such plurality.
Thus, though nationalism is quite natural and beneficial to us, there is need to modify and "educate" nationalism in view of present needs.
8. HUMANS AND RELIGION
In the "Life" book, "The Epic of Man", it has been pointed out that, "Man, according to one definition is an animal that prays." It is true that we are not aware of any other animal species having religion. Thus religion is one of the characteristics of the human species.
It is also notable that religion is universal among people. Every human population practices some sort of religion. Besides, as we shall realize in course of this discussion, all religions have the same essentials. This situation suggests that religions are in response to certain universally felt human needs.
Religion - a big force
Religion is certainly a very strong force. Swami Vivekanand, speaking on the "Necessity of Religion" in London, said, "Of all forces that have worked and are still working to mould the destinies of the human race, none certainly is more potent than that the manifestation of what we call religion." Further he said, "It is a well known fact that persons worshipping the same God, believing in the same religion, have stood by each other, with much greater strength and constancy, than people of merely the same descent, or even than brothers."
Besides being a very strong cohesive force, religion has proven to be a very strong divisive force. Much of the turmoil and conflict in human history has been due to religion. Understanding religion, therefore is likely to be beneficial.
In communist USSR a strong effort was made to create a scientific society with no place for religion or faith in God. As Schell (1992), in his essay "Moscow's churches reborn", has pointed out, "He (Stalin) dynamited churches, lavelled neighbourhoods and razed historic monuments." and further, "But in 1941, as German armies attacked, Stalin was so desperate to rally the country against the Nazi invasion that he shamelessly appealed to people's religious faith. He approved the opening of some 20,000 new churches (in the entire Soviet Union)." This shows that even in the heyday of the Russian Communism people's faith in religion and God had not died. In Mao's days communism in China was not less rigid. Even in those days people derived strength from faith in a God-like figure. There were reports of patients in China undergoing major surgery without anaesthesia with Mao's Red Book in hand and reading it with full faith. With Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika not only churches have revived and multiplied in a big way in Russia, as Schell (1992) has described, people in Russia have readily taken to magical and metaphysical practices, amounting to a primitive religion, much to the chagrin of Kapitza (1991) and other scientists.
Components, origin and evolution of religion
A religion is as complex as the human brain. Every religion has its own proportion of mysticism and dogma. This part is often misunderstood and misinterpreted. A comparative study of established and organized religions, however reveals that each such religion has two essential components, namely ethical and spiritual.
The ethical part sets out norms of life. It includes mostly "dos and don'ts". It largely consists of philanthropy and sympathy for needy and poor. A religion includes mythology and scripture, which generally contain history and also embody the ethic
al part. The ethical part may be interpreted as social laws, which are necessary for maintenance of the social structure and function. Every society, however primitive, needs such laws. Even social insects seem to have their own laws. Rodionov and Shabarshov (1986) writing on bees, say, "Naturalists, scientists and bee-keepers have always been fascinated by the most logical pattern of honeybees, life, remarkable order in their hive, where everything seems to be wonderfully thought out and perfected, down to the finest trifles. There are never any conflicts between the members of the bee community, as if all of them were guided and governed by some laws accepted once and for all, though the meaning of these laws is clear only to the bees ...".
The ethical part is obviously important. B.N. Kohli (1994), writing on religion and morality, says, "Bereft of its moral content, religion is just a bundle of inane rituals and dogmas". Further he has pointed out that ethics are much the same in different religions. In this context he says, "Barring some insignificant changes ... due to historical or environmental reasons, morality based on the bed-rock of basic human values of truth, honesty, integrity of character, compassion and good neighbourliness etc., holds good for all time and clines. It is thus eternal and universal."
The ethical part of a religion generally includes notions of "heaven" and "hell" and of punishment and reward in the "next birth". Perhaps such notions are dogmas meant to ensure adherence to the social laws, it is up to personal reflection. We think that, minus these dogmas, the ethical laws would be as easy to ignore by many of us as any Man made or government laws.
Now let us turn to the other essential component of a religion, the spiritual part. This part, in essence, is concerned with realization and worship of a superpower or God. About form and abode of God and about rituals involved in worship and evoking blessings of the superpower, different religions differ widely. But a study of scriptures of different religions reveals that all religions offer the concept of God as a support for the fear stricken human mind.
The above discussion clearly drives home the point that in essentials different organized and established religions are very similar. Swami Vivekanand observed, "....whether a religion is taught in the forests and jungles of India or in Christian land, in essentials all religions are one. This only shows us that religion is a constitutional necessity of the human mind".
Let us try to imagine how religion could have evolved. Development of the ethical component must have been in response to human social needs, which are much the same everywhere; hence there is a very similar ethical component in different established religions. Some differences in this component, due to varying environmental needs, are quite expected. As Swami Vivekanand has put it, "Though all religions are essentially the same, they must have the varieties of forms produced by dissimilar circumstances among different nations."
Discovery of God has been a consequence of human intelligence. In human evolution instinct may have become largely replaced by intelligence. Intelligence, while it has been crucial for development of culture and civilization, is unable to satisfy the basic instinct for survival, and this we realize in our consciousness, which it seems has evolved along with intelligence as its corollary. It is necessary for evaluating a situation in relation to ones-self and for planning an intelligent action in response. Intelligence does not explain or account for all that is experienced or observed by the conscious human mind, for example death, sleep, dreams, natural calamities etc. This situation generates fears. Socioeconomic situations in the human society also lead to fears. Imagining and praying a superpower helps humans face the fears.
It is a property of human mental working to comprehend and explain what we observe or experience. If we imagine a superpower, not only he is helped in living with fears but also we are able to offer some sort of explanation for such phenomena as death, misery, a difficult social or economic phase etc., that is such phenomena we are not able to explain with intelligence.
Human obsession with death is obvious. Probably it is human preoccupation with death which has led to ancestor worship, which is an ingredient of many religions.
The above explanation for the concept of God amounts to describing it as a working hypothesis. Here we wish to point to our lack of spiritual training/perception to qualify us to present the concept with greater conviction or to discredit those, who fortunately (fortunate because they are better equipped to face the realities of life) have firmer faith in the concept.
Religions have shown gradual changes or evolution, from a diffuse and confused state to a more rational form. The biologist-philosopher Julian Huxley (1959) writing on religion, has pointed out that early or primitive religions included magical rites and attributed supernatural power to various objects, inanimate as well as living. Later the supernatural power was concentrated in gods. Thus primitive magical religions gave place to theistic religions. Further he believes that among theistic religions earlier ones spoke of several gods (polytheism), and later, in a more evolved form, of a single god (monotheism).
Julian Huxley has ventured to predict the future course of religious evolution. He believes that with growing rationality the followers of different religions will come to believe in a common Superpower or God (universal monotheism). Further he has predicted that with progress in scientific knowledge a superpower will not be necessary for help of Man, and a rational religion, with no theism, and comprising most ethical or social laws (social religion), will replace theistic religions. He has regarded the Russian Communism and the German Nazism as crude beginning of social religion. Huxley's notions about evolution of religions may be illustrated as shown in figure 8.1.
That with growing rationality and enlightenment people, following different religions, will be led to believe in a common God (universal monotheism) is quite foreseeable. But we do not quite agree with the suggestion that social religion will be able to replace theistic religions in foreseeable future. Though our progress in science has been phenomenal in the recent past and we have been increasingly more scientific in our thinking, it does not seem likely that man will be relieved of his fears and insecurity atleast for quite sometime to come. In fact self generated socio-economic problems and continued damage to the biosphere, which he is unwittingly causing, are adding to his fear and insecurity. We have witnessed that hard core communism and Nazism have proven to be ephemeral phases of extremism.
In view of all this our social thinkers and leaders should aim at reaching and establishing universal monotheism.
FIG. 8.1 : Diagramatic presentation of the views of Julian Huxley on evolution of religions.
Hinduism is an ancient religion of an ancient people. It encompasses such a bewildering variety of beliefs and practices that it has been often misunderstood. It has been sometimes described as "amorphous". However, understanding Hinduism in a correct and unprejudiced perspective will perhaps help understanding of religions in general.
There is some remarkable parallel between human evolution and evolution of Hinduism. Just as the modern human species (Homo sapiens) has been evolving both culturally as well as genetically without any further speciation, that is without breaking up into newer species, Hinduism has been evolving within limits of a broad based religion, that is without breaking up into newer religions. In an ancient and evolving population, like our own, we may still find iron age culture surviving in isolated tribal pockets, on the other hand we have quite advanced computer age culture in our cities. Similarly within the realm of Hinduism one may find magical practices and rites, polytheism and also monotheism.
The broad based Hinduism offers one obvious advantage. Its followers, at whatever stage of cultural evolution and whatever be their natural aptitude, find a suitable "niche" for their solace within the realm of the religion. Thus they are saved from the trauma of religion hopping in search of solace.
It is important to note that culmination of evolution of the Hindu religion was reached long back, in the days of creation of the "Vedas", in the form of "Adwaitvad". According to this concept God or the universal life force is not in the heaven, but within individual men, women and infact within every living being, however simple, like a worm. "Adwaitvad" amounts to monotheism, and, as has been well demonstrated by Swami Vivekanand, it is in hormony with the well proven concept of organic evolution. (There is difference of opinion among authorities as to when it was the Vedic Period. Roughly it was around 1000 BC.)
A religion should not be static
Religions have evolved, but generally very slowly, like biological evolution. Usually no change is noticeable until the hands of time have marked hundreds or even thousands of years. But a religion, which offers a good support to its followers and expects spirited following from them, should not remain, relatively speaking, static, and should readily mould it-self in view of current social needs. Some churches in England run and maintain old people's homes, and some Hindu temples in India support hospitals, universities and colleges. These are some examples of such awareness to existing social needs.
Old rites and rituals should be retained, as they add colour to social life, and ascribe identity to the followers of a particular religion. But such rituals and practices, as have become harmful in the present circumstances, should be given up. Dhirendra Sharma (1994), writing on environmentally harmful Hindu practices, has referred to use of wood in cremation. In view of dwindling forest resources electric cremation should be preferred. Development of solar crematoria should be still better. Disposal of dead bodies, as such or partly charred, and of bony remains of cremated bodies into rivers should be stopped, as our rivers are already badly polluted. Use of "mrigcharma" (=deer skin) and "vyaghracharma" (=tiger skin) by "sadhus" or saintly people is another undesirable practice. Special efforts should be made for garbage disposal and for maintaining cleanliness in places of pilgrimage and worship.
Perhaps it is needless to repeat that religion, which is sensitive to new priorities, in view of changing circumstances, will be more satisfying to and will hold greater appeal for its followers.
Science and religion
Often there is a bad mix-up of science and religion. For example, astrology is included in Hindu scriptures, and some leading astrologers, regarding astrology as scientific, desired that it be included in the proceedings of the Indian Science Congress, and a distinguished astrologer be awarded in the 1993 meet of the Congress. When organizers of the Congress refused to do so, it led to great annoyance among astrologers. A very angry rejoinder in this context by Dr. B. V. Raman was published in "Blitz" in April 1993.
At time religious writings have been described as scientific. Attempts have been made to explain facts of science with religious mythology and vice versa. Sometimes science is blamed for not being able to explain certain phenomena, which religion is able to account for.
In order to avoid such misleading mix-up it is necessary to realize the basic difference between science and religion, and the following under this section is an attempt in this direction.
Science represents a certain attitude of mind; it is attitude of enquiry through analysis and classification of data, collected through observations and experiments. Observations are made using usual and normal senses, and inferences are reached through simple logic. Care and objectivity are expected, when deriving inferences or reaching results, so that the results are verifiable. Enquiries are made and results are drawn keeping in view what has already been discovered by earlier workers in the field, so that duplication of efforts is avoided, and a gradual and continuous growth of our knowledge in the area of enquiry is made possible. This gradual development and growth of science leave some areas and patches uncovered. Naturally, therefore there are many questions, which pertain to such uncovered areas, and thus they cannot be answered in terms of science. AS Julian Huxley has said "The supernatural is in part the region of the natural that has not yet been understood, in part invention of human fantasy, in part unknowable."
It may be emphasized here that no sixth sense or metaphysical capability is required for work in a field of science. All that is needed in a scientist is usual senses and simple reasoning. Anyone with average intelligence and faith in his normal senses can be trained to become a worker in science. Science is for common people, and, unlike spiritualism, persons with special attributes/perceptions since birth, are not needed for its growth. A man of science does not hesitate to accept that a certain phenomenon or experience is inexplicable in terms of science, as it stands to-day. In any higher treatise on science it is frequently pointed out that certain areas or portions have not been adequately studied so far, and that further efforts are required to shed light on those areas.
Thus science is an unpretentious and humble approach to learn about things/forces around us through normal human capability. The glory, that is ascribed to science, is partly because of dazzle of technological development based on science and partly because the common man is not familiar with methods and limitations of science. It is to share this glory that some such faculties/ approaches that do not follow the discipline and methods of science, are associated with it. Why otherwise do some people call their studies or pursuits scientific, though they have not taken to scientific methodology? Why should astrologers not find it more satisfying to honour the top ranking astrologers among them in a national or international astrology convention than to await their turn in a scientific gathering?
The spiritual part of a religion is based on supernatural experiences, which are not everybody's field. People with "extra-sensorial perceptions" are supposed to be specially gifted. It is said that "yogis", who achieve high supernatural levels, have special capabilities since birth, and that these special endowments develop through training under gifted "gurus".
Both science and religions are efforts to unravel the truth. But approaches in the two are quite different. At present and for quite sometime to come we should avoid mix-ups between the two. Sri Aurobindo's school clearly suggests keeping the spheres of spirituality and science apart, as intrusion of one into the other will lead to distortion and perversion (Mukherji, 1990).
What should we do about religion?
A religion, any religion is a great moral force, and it makes life in a society worth living. Unfortunately the "rationality", which has been developing after the Second World War, has made deceit, hypocrisy, double talk and lack of reliability prevalent, under the garb of "diplomacy", "politics" and "business acumen", even at the highest levels in the society. Truth, compassion, reliability and simple logic, even in politics as taught by Mahatma Gandhi, appear "rural" now.
Leaders of different religions should rise to the occasion, make their religions more appealing and useful, and convince people about the need of a religion for a healthy social life. Revival of general acceptance of religion by the masses will help revival of a "rural" society, which will be definitely much less complicated than what we are at present, and more in tune with the basic instinct of survival and the social instincts. At the same time clear realization that essentials of all religions are the same and of faith in universal monotheism might take away much strife and conflict. People then should be able to concentrate on real problems like declining life supporting capacity of our planet.
9. THE FUTURE OF HUMANKIND
We hesitate to regard this essay an attempt in the field of Futurology, as here visualization of human future is not based on elaborate data and models. At the same time it seems to fall on the side of Futurology, as it is developed on basis of Biology and evolutionary history of Man, and thus should not be classified as Astrology.
In a non-astrological effort to have a glimpse of things to come, the basis is the present day knowledge and trends, which may be in the field of Economics, Sociology, Politics or Biology. The basis of present treatment would be understandably mostly biological.
In a futurology treatment predictions are flexible and conditional. Statements that follow about future changes and events are followed by such conditional clauses as "provided there is no large scale upheavals or nuclear holocausts".
Man - a great geological force and a species with consciousness
All organisms are influenced by the environment and in turn affect their surroundings. Human influence on the environment is enormous and conspicuous. Through his agriculture, mining, grazing of live-stock, road construction and making of dams, discharge of pollutants from factories and automobiles and urbanization we have vastly changed the landscape and have taken away much of land from natural ecological succession. Through large scale and mechanized fishing, through churning of propellers of water-crafts, and by spilling of oils and other pollutants, seas and oceans have also been affected. Almost all these changes are harmful to the biosphere, and have led to extinction or near extinction of a large number of species. Now continued existence of those species, which are still surviving, as well as our own survival depend upon our future course of action. Hence humans have been rightly described as a major geological force. So large is the effect of this force that the natural biosphere is gradually and largely being replaced by the Man-made world or "noosphere", a term suggested by Vernadsky (1945) ("noos" - Greek for human mind).
While Man is a great geological force, he has been mostly acting contrary to survival of life, including his own. However, there is a silver lining in the cloud, his consciousness.
As to the meaning of consciousness opinions differ. In biological terms it is a corollary of human intelligence , and makes possible perception and evaluation of one's own activities. Learning a language and inner talking help consciousness. This mental attribute of Man may help save the life sustaining capacity of the planet from further destruction by human activity.
Human intelligence and Man's quest for truth have led to development of Evolutionary Biology and Ecology. He knows his own evolutionary history, and has fairly good understanding of the evolutionary process. It is clear to him now that, though he is a product of evolution, over which he had no control, now he has emerged as a huge ecological force, which can control not only his own evolution but also evolution of other types. As Crow et al (1970) have said, "..... evolutionary biology has ......shown us the central role that man is destined to play in evolution from now on - unless of course, he engineers his own extinction", and also, "the future evolution of the orangutan and the whooping crane and of most other species will be determined by human decisions and hardly at all by anything done by the species themselves".
The problem of future human evolution will be separately discussed in the following sections of this essay, but discussion so far has hopefully made it clear that the adverse effects, Man has been inflicting on the Biosphere, may be stopped by developing "educated" consciousness among masses.
The problem of population growth
In the recent past, human population has been showing rapid growth. World population in 1968 was 3.4 billion, and is expected to double itself and become 7.5 billion by the end of this century (Stern, 1970). Now that we are nearing 2000 AD, we can appreciate the correctness of this prediction.
The pattern of growth of human population is well illustrated by the population history of the Indian subcontinent. As Bates (1963) has described, "The American sociologist, Kingsley Davis has made a special study of the history of population on the Indian subcontinent. He concluded that the population at the time of Chandragupta, in 300 BC, was between 100 to 140 million. Since he estimated that the population in the year 1600 (AD) was 125 million, it appears that the population of this great region changed very little during the 2000 years. Rapid population growth did not start in India until about 1850, but in the next 100 years it more than trebled, reaching 433 million (India and Pakistan combined) in 1950, with no limit in sight".
At this juncture let us learn something about population growth pattern among animals. On entering a new or previously unoccupied habitat an animal may show sigmoid-shaped (S - shaped) or J-shaped growth pattern (figure 9.1, (a) and (b)), names of the two patterns indicating the shape of the growth curve. In the former population size increases for sometime, and then some factors, like dwindling food supply, crowding induced sterility, increasing frequency of infection with a pathogen, or some other natural density dependent and population controlling factors, come into play, and put a check on further population increase. Beyond this point the population size remains more or less unchanged and close to the limit defined by such factors. Different density dependent factors become effective in population repression at different population densities; in other words the factors differ in their thresholds of vulnerability for a certain population (Kendeigh, 1975) and they become effective/operative at different population sizes. The limit shown with broken line in the figure 9.1, (a) and (b) is decided by the entire gamut of such factors. Such a limit may be referred to as the carrying capacity of the environment.
If one or more of the natural controlling factors fail to produce population repression due to environmental changes, and if the failing factors happen to be important among the natural population controlling factors, there will be a rapid population build up, and the population size will overshoot the carrying capacity limit. This results in a J-shaped curve. In such a case the controlling factors, which have their thresholds of vulnerability considerably above the limit, become operational after the overshoot, and this produces a rapid decline or crash in the population. Hereafter the population remains close to the limit until some among major controlling factors fail and there is again an overshoot followed by a crash.
A J-shaped curve may also result from the failing controlling factor becoming operational again. For example, emergence of an insect pest on a field crop is primarily due to abundance of food available, that is due to the controlling factor "limited availability of food" failing. With harvest of the crop the factor becomes effective again in population repression, and crash in pest population occurs. If a field crop pest feeds on the milky stage of grains, ripening and hardening of grains will result in cut food supply, and crash will follow.
If now we consider the above given data about population history in the Indian subcontinent, the data obviously suggest a J-like growth form. If it is this growth pattern, it should necessarily include a crash. It is believed that improved medical aid and abundance of good nourishment, due to improved agricultural technology, have been mostly responsible for the overshoot. But improved agricultural practices can help increased food production to some extent, and not indefinitely. Similarly improved medical aid and health care can reduce mortality and increase longevity upto a certain limit. After that crash through famine, diseases and wars can be well imagined.
The problem of growing human population is considerably more grave than what appears from the fore-going discussion. The problem of population growth is specially more marked in developing countries, e.g. India and other countries of the Indian subcontinent, China and other Asian developing countries (Stern, 1970). In these countries most people have long lived in great deprivation with respect to food, space and clothing, and, now when the economy in these countries is looking up, these people are striving to achieve better standards of living. While such changes are sociologically desirable, they do put increased strain on resources. In view of this Stern (1970) predicted that by the year 2000 AD the total human population would become two fold of what it was in 1960s, and at the same time drain on natural resources would increase 3 to 4 fold.
If no strategy is developed to face the problem of rapid population growth, consequences would not be desirable. The consequences, as foreseen by Stern (1970), would include "Hunger, pollution, crime, despoliation of the natural beauty of the planet, irreversible extermination of countless species of plants and animals, overlarge, dirty, overcrowded cities with their paradoxical loneliness, continual erosion of limited natural resources, and the seething unrest which creates the political instability that leads to international conflict and war.....". These consequences, though foretold more than 25 years ago, still are looming large.
The main strategy to tackle this situation should be population control. But, because of lack of education among masses, especially in developing countries and due to sociological, religious and political reasons, the desired level of success in population control cannot be quickly achieved. Stern, writing in 1970, did not expect any significant restrain in population growth in the next decade. Now, more than two decades since, we are still far from achieving the required restrain. We, therefore have to think of including some more steps in our strategy in addition to population control.
While population control through mass education is to be relentlessly pursued by all state governments and non-governmental organisations, efforts should also be made for searching out and developing : (a) alternative sources of human nourishment, (b) alternative sources of energy, and (c) technology for recycling of waste. While all the three, (a), (b) and (c) are specialised areas and require long and separate treatment, here we choose to say a few things about (a). Conventional agriculture can be further improved only to some extent, and not indefinitely, and, therefore search for alternative sources of nourishment is needed to make further population growth sustainable till efforts at containing population growth become substantially effective. That algae can be a good source of proteins for human consumption is noteworthy. Stern (1970) points out, "Approximately one acre is required to feed one man by efficient current agriculture - yet a one square yard tank growing algae can produce all of his caloric, protein and vitamin needs". Off-shore culturing of molluscs is another promising area. That Indian scientists are trying to develop a technique for making a curd-like preparation from leaves of a number of different plants is another notable effort in this direction. The Society for Development of Appropriate Technology (SOTEC), a non-governmental organisation in India, have developed a technique for preparing "leaf curd" from leaves of 47 plants, the preparation being 30 times more nutritious than curd from animal milk.
Here it would be appropriate to point out the need for advances in basic sciences. Developing countries have been mostly borrowing technologies from developed countries, and adopting them with some modifications, feeling satisfied about their technological and scientific progress. But all the three thrust areas, (a), (b) and (c) require progress in basic sciences, which have to be developed in view of local needs, resources and preferences.
FIG. 9.1 : Population growth patterns.
Are Humans still evolving?
By evolution is generally meant "speciation", that is formation of new species. In that meaning the present Man, Homo sapiens is not evolving, and has not speciated during over 100,000 years of his existence. Mainly technology and migratory habits have been responsible. The technology makes creation of a microenvironment around our-selves with favourable and comfortable conditions possible, and, therefore we can invade different habitats successfully without evolving adaptations in our own organisation for conditions in those habitats. For example, clothes, dwellings and heating devices help him in creating a microenvironment with desired temperature even in the coldest places on the earth. On the other hand, air conditioners and coolers make it possible to live even in tropical deserts. His breathing mask and gear permit him spending hours under water. Moreover, Man, for his survival, does not depend only on the ecosystem, he lives in, but also exploits, with aid of his technology, ecosystems far away from him. Bates (1963) points out that people in the United States gets, "bananas from Honduras, coffee from Brazil, sugar from Cuba, spices from the Orient, vegetable oils from Africa, olives and wine perhaps from California but also perhaps from southern Europe." This invasion of very different ecological niches by Man has been feasible without corresponding evolutionary changes in his own organisation due to use of artefacts or products of his technology. Mayr (1950) said, "Man occupies more different ecological niches than any known animal".
For speciation, besides development of adaptations through variations and Darwinian selection, another factor is needed, viz. similar populations, living in different areas, should remain separated and thus prevented from interbreeding, that is they remain geographically isolated, long enough to acquire such differences between their genomes to make them incapable of interbreeding, even if later they come close to-gether and their geographic isolation breaks down. Thus now they are in position to evolve independent of each other.
Similar populations, incapable of interbreeding even when in the same general area, are regarded as distinct species. This reproductive isolation from similar other populations is a necessary feature of a biological species.
Man presents a number of distinct races, but these races are connected through intergrading populations, and are fully capable of successfully interbreeding and producing normal and fertile offspring. Hence, even if two populations, e.g. a negroid population and one from North Europe, look quite different, they cannot be regarded as distinct species. Man has been evolving into these races without speciation, because of his restless and migratory habits. Frequent racial intermixing through migrations took place throughout human history, and no population remained effectively separated from neighbouring populations long enough to become genetically so different as to become reproductively isolated. Development of transport technology has been promoting human migrations.
Evolution, however is not necessarily speciaton. Evolutionary changes may take place within limits of a species. Evolution means changes in the average genotype of a population. It may take place with or without speciation. A specially notable case of evolution without speciation has been described by Remmert (1980). It is of forest trees in Europe. Remmert tells, "It is a regular feature of the leafing-out of woods in spring that certain individual trees are ahead of the main group and others far behind. In favourable years without late night frosts, the leaders are genetically at an advantage, because they have the opportunity for greater production. In years with late frosts they are in danger of producing nothing at all, for all their buds and leaves are irreversibly damaged. The extreme individuals also represent genetic reservoirs upon which the species draws in adjusting to long term changes in climate. As the growing season shortens or lengthens over centuries, the population can respond without requiring a single mutation". Thus in this instance the trees, without speciating any further, may get their average genotype changed in the direction of early leafing out or late, depending upon shortening or lengthening of winter in consecutive years due to climatic changes.
Numerous examples of such intraspecific evolutionary changes in humans may be cited. In 1960s the Time magazine conducted a survey of I.Q. among children born in a US university campus, and noted that there was literally a burst of I.Q.. Several children were having I.Q. close to that of Newton. Obviously in the university environment selection had favoured high I.Q.. But this did not result in formation of a superintelligent human species, as the population in the university campus was not isolated from the rest of the US population.
Remmert (1980) has given this example. People in Central Europe have long been consuming milk and milk products as main and regular ingredients of their diet. It has not been so in Asia and Africa. In a Central Europe population only 2 to 10% adults are not able to digest the milk sugar or lactose (that is they do not have lactose digesting enzyme in their intestinal secretions), whereas in an Asian or African population 90 to 98% adults show this deficiency. In such adults, on consuming milk or a milk product, lactose undergoes fermentation in the intestine, resulting in intestinal disorders. Some lactose may enter blood, decomposes uncontrollably there, disturbing acid-base balance in blood and causing illness.
DNA is the substance, of which genes are made up. With accumulation of changes or mutations in genes the complex chemical organisation of genetic material or DNA changes, and these changes are shown in DNA finger-printing. Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University and Kenneth Kidd and Judith Kidd of Yale have studied DNA finger-prints of a number of populations, living in different parts of the world, and have come to infer that greater the time of separation between two populations, as deduced from anthropological studies, the greater the difference in their DNA profiles (Cavalli-Sforza, 1991). This again speaks of gradual accumulation of mutations in the genotype and evolution without speciation.
Smith (1973) says, ".. man is evolving anyway. That is to say, changes are taking place in the genetic properties of the human population whether we like it or not ...".
Now that we know that Man is still evolving and is bound by the same evolutionary laws as any animal species, that evolution is essentially accumulation of changes or mutations in the heredity of a population, and that we have fairly good knowledge of the hereditary mechanism, can we not direct future human evolution in desired directions? Application of our knowledge of Genetics for bringing about desired changes in human population has been called eugenics, and that is what we shall discuss in the next section.
Strictly speaking eugenics is application of our knowledge of Genetics for amelioration of Man. But the term is generally more liberally used to cover all measures aimed at altering human biological capacity. Forced abortions and sterilization under the name of eugenics in Nazi Germany gave some notoriety to this area of science application.
Smith (1973) has broadly classified eugenic measures under two categories, viz. unintended by-products of current social and legal practices, and the other category of deliberate eugenic measures. Unintended measures include growing tendency of marriages between unrelated or distantly related individuals, and long term imprisonment and capital punishment. Let us consider in brief the eugenic value of these measures. Most changed or mutant genes are harmful under current conditions and are recessive, that is capable of expression only when received both from the paternal as well as maternal sides. When unrelated or distant individuals marry, chances of the same mutant gene being inherited by the offspring from both the parents are remote, and thus undesirable expression of the gene in the progeny is avoided. Capital punishment and long term prison sentences help curb propagation of the genetic basis, if any, of criminal tendencies through the following generations.
Eugenic measures may be classified also as positive and negative. Positive measures are those which aim at promoting development and frequency of beneficial traits. Negative Eugenics, on the other hand aims at repairing/replacing harmful genes, or at totally or partly nullifying the disadvantages resulting from such genes.
An eugenic step, while it is useful, may entail a genetic disadvantage, that is it may be dysgenic at the same time. As Smith has put it, "... you rarely get something for nothing".
As deliberate eugenic efforts we may have a selectionist approach, a transformist approach or we may take to biological engineering. First let us consider biological engineering. It includes use of artifices and techniques to minimize the effect of undesirable traits, such as use of glasses for correcting myopia and other defects of vision, and surgical treatment to correct limb deformities resulting from poliomyelitis and some congenital problems. The usefulness of such measures cannot be doubted. But they have a dysgenic aspect too. The harmful genes, as those for myopia, may not be removed by selection, as with help of an artificial aid the possessors of such genes are not losers in selection and are able to grow to the reproductive age. Now efforts are being made to develop techniques to detect congenital defects in the foetus in mother's womb and to correct them by intrauterine surgery.
A selectionist approach may be social or biological. A selectionist social eugenic program is involved in such suggestions as "family allowance to university teachers and tax on children for all families". But for social reasons only such suggestions could not be implemented. One may reasonably ask - why not selection in favour of farm labourers, who are capable of hard manual labour? If we consider the fine distribution of labour in a human population, we should infer that best is not to interfere and meddle with human variation.
Perhaps the only selectionist measure, which has been actually practiced, though without clear eugenic intentions, is selection of a suitable mate by either sex. Possibly because of this selectionist approach that Hrdlicka (1929) suggested that in future general features would become more beautiful (from present standards).
Deliberate selectionist measures include artificial insemination and cloning. H.J. Muller, Julian Huxley and some other leading biologists suggested, in the early part of this century, use of sperms of specially gifted males to father most of the next generation for betterment of human population. With development of the technique for sperm preservation using liquid nitrogen, artificial insemination is quite feasible now. But there are a number of points of demerit that has kept us from taking to any large scale experiment with this method; some such points (mostly as per Smith, 1973) are as follows:
(1) There are psychological barriers to accepting the child by some parents, who have volunteered for artificial insemination.
(2) Artificial insemination is much more feasible with cattle than with Man. With the former one may proceed with a well defined end in view, for example increased milk yield. When selection is done with this aim, higher milk production is achieved, though in the cattle, produced, some undesirable changes may appear, such as decreased mobility and intelligence. But in Man, even if we are able to define the goal for selection, appearance of harmful traits in the progeny would not be acceptable. In the fruit-fly, Drosophila and in several other organisms selection for certain traits generally leads to a number of harmful traits concomitantly appearing.
(3) Most protagonists of the selectionist approach have regarded intellectually advanced males as specially endowed. Smith has approached the problem of effect of selection for higher I.Q. statistically, and has inferred that the extent of success would be only small. Besides, a population, which has taken to this method, would not remain isolated long from other populations. Hence, whatever has been gained with difficulty against psychological and social barriers, would diffuse out.
(4) In a statistical treatment of the problem of effect of artificial insemination aiming at higher I.Q. it is assumed that parents have been randomly chosen. But in practice, when couples are persuaded to take to this method, those, who agree, are likely to be more intelligent and rational than others. In case of such couples, therefore artificial insemination would not produce much improvement.
(5) Cultural (or environmental) effects play a large role in shaping the abilities and achievements of a person, whereas in selection through artificial insemination we concentrate only on genetic inheritance. Smith brings home this point by citing the example of the classical and Byzantine Greece. The former produced a number of intellectual giants, but none appeared in the latter. Obviously in the Byzantine Greece the gene pool was much the same as in the Classical Greece, but for intellectual achievements, besides the genetic make up, a suitable social environment is needed.
(6) A child, resulting from sperm donation from a great man and made aware of his origin (it will be neither practical nor desirable to keep his biological origin a secret from him), would be under a great psychological pressure, as people around him will cherish high expectations from him. This situation could greatly hamper his development and progress.
(7) Moreover, this selectionist approach would tend to reduce the variability in a population, and, as has been pointed out earlier in this section, reduction of variability in a human population, in view of fine and detailed distribution of labour, is not desirable.
Cloning means asexually producing a "carbon copy" or duplicate of an individual. Method for cloning has been developed for animals keeping in view the following facts of biology. A cell in the body of an animal has two sets of chromosomes; every chromosome in one set has its counterpart in the other set. Thus, in a man's body cell, the nucleus contains 46 chromosomes, that is two sets each of 23 chromosomes. Such a nucleus is called "diploid". Reproductive cells, ova and sperms are, however "haploid", that is with only one set of chromosomes, 23 in case of Man. In fertilization a sperm nucleus fuses with that of the ovum, and, thus, a fertilized egg has a diploid nucleus. Immediately following this restoring of diploidy developmental changes start in the egg leading to the formation of a new individual. Such an individual, produced by the normal sexual method, has one set of chromosomes, and, therefore one set of genes from the mother, and the other set from the father. Hence the new individual is not genetically identical with either parent. These facts suggest that, if in an ovum or egg cell the haploid nucleus is removed and replaced with a diploid nucleus, which has been taken out from a body cell, the egg may be induced to develop. The individual, resulting from this development, will be an identical copy of the donor of the diploid nucleus, as it will be having the same set of genes as the latter. Thus several identical copies or clones of a chosen individual may be prepared.
Working on these principles frogs could be successfully cloned in 1960s. Donors of the diploid nuclei were frog's embryos. It was difficult to visualise then how cloning could be achieved in mammals, in whom fertilization as well as embryonic development take place inside the mother's body.
With development of "in vitro fertilization" technique or "test tube baby" technique cloning in mammals became feasible. In this technique eggs are removed from the mother's body, kept in a petri-dish in a suitable liquid medium, sperms from a male are added to the medium and thus fertilization is achieved out-side the mother's body. The fertilized eggs are allowed to develop to some extent before transplanting them in the womb of the original or "surrogate" mother. If in this technique the eggs in the petri-dish are subjected to replacement of the original haploid nucleus with a diploid nucleus from a body cell, and, after the eggs have shown developmental changes, they are transferred to the uterus of surrogate mothers, making of clones should be possible in mammals. In fact following this technique Dr. Ian Wilmut and his colleagues in the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh could successfully produce cloned sheep [Reference in Nature]. They had taken diploid nuclei for transplantation into eggs from embryos of sheep. Their success was announced early in 1996.
One tempting possibility with cloning is that we can produce duplicates of a person with outstanding qualities, say Einstein or Kasparov. But, if the diploid nucleus is to be taken from an embryonic donor, cloning of a man of achievements cannot be done, because potentials of an embryo are still unexpressed. Could we not take the nucleus from a body cell of an adult for this purpose? In early 1997, Ian Wilmut and his group announced that they could successfully produce a clone sheep, "Dolly", using the nucleus from an udder cell of an adult sheep. This experiment has taken us very close to possibility of cloning in Man and of producing clones of persons with remarkable achievements.
Cloning has an obvious advantage over artificial insemination. The genetic contribution from "specially gifted male" (in case of cloning it may be a "specially gifted female" too!) is not diluted by the contribution from a "randomly chosen female". As a result the progeny will not show unexpected undesirable traits, which are due to coming together of certain recessive genes in two doses, and also due to formation of new genetic associations. But for this point, that is point (2), all other points of demerit of artificial insemination, hold for cloning also.
Both artificial insemination and cloning are proposed selectionist steps of the nature of positive eugenics. Genetic counselling advises a Rh negative woman to look for a Rh negative groom, may also be regarded as a selectionist approach, but is of the nature of negative eugenics. This negative eugenic step, in contrast with the positive eugenic selectionist methods of artificial insemination and cloning, is more acceptable and useful, and is being practiced at present.
Next let us discuss the transformist approach. This approach involves transformation of or introducing changes in the genetic mechanism for human benefit. Like the selectionist approach, the transformist approach could also be negative or positive, that is for repair/replacement of harmful or disease producing genes or for introducing genes for such desirable traits as those for high intelligence or for high artistic ability. While the former approach appears feasible, the latter neither feasible nor desirable. Genes for some hereditary diseases could not be identified, and, therefore their replacement/repair is foreseeable. But genes for such traits as intelligence, good health etc. could be similarly identified. Moreover, indications are that such desirable traits are due to large complexes of genes, rather than due mostly to specific loci. Besides most demerits, enumerated above, to positive selectionist approach, hold for the positive transformist approach too. Thus feasible transformist approach consist of replacement/repair of defective or disease producing genes, or "gene therapy", as it has been called.
As Verma (1990) has pointed out, there are more than 4000 known inherited disorders, and for most of them there are no effective therapies. Most suited for gene therapy are those genetic disorders, which are caused by defect in single genes. Diseases, caused by malfunctioning of multiple genes or due to loss or addition of parts or whole of certain chromosomes are unlikely to be covered by gene therapy in foreseeable future.
In gene therapy, healthy genes may be introduced theoretically either into germ cells (=sperms/ova/early embryonic cells), or into somatic cells, that is those cells which are not going to give rise to sperms or eggs. (It may be noted that the germ cells give rise to germ and somatic cells of next generation, whereas somatic cells die out without contributing to the following generation.) So far gene introduction has been tried only in somatic cells, because such a change in the genetic mechanism will remain confined to the individual, whose somatic cells have been given the treatment, and will not be handed over to the following generations. If germ cells are given a similar treatment, the change will be for generations to come. The human genome has been shaped through evolution for lakhs of years, and, a change in it, while helping amelioration of symptoms of a genetic disorder, may have some undesirable effects too, as it will be a departure from the long evolving and well balanced genotype. In view of this only limited risk is taken; the genetic mechanism of only some somatic cells is manipulated.
Introduction of a healthy gene into a cell with the corresponding defective gene, has been imagined for quite sometime. The main hindrance in actually implementing it has been lack of suitable recombinant DNA techniques. The technique involves use of certain enzymes, obtained from bacteria, viz. restriction enzymes, which break up DNA molecules into fragments, and ligases, which splice or rejoin the fragments into various combinations. Automated cloning of DNA and preparation of rough computerised DNA maps have also been helpful. A DNA fragment, including the desired gene may be introduced into a cell using a suitable vector. The best vector for this purpose has been found to be a retrovirus. Such a virus is an RNA virus. A strand of RNA constitutes its chromosome, and there is no DNA in it. When the virus infects a cell of a higher organism, not only the viral RNA chromosome but also a viral enzyme, reverse transcriptase get injected into the cell. The enzyme induces formation of DNA against the viral RNA strand. The DNA gets incorporated in one of the chromosomes of host cell. Now against this "foreign" DNA new viral RNA strands are synthesized, using the host enzyme system. In the host cell there are synthesized also viral core and coat proteins and the enzyme reverse transcriptase, using host's protein synthesis mechanism. Now virus particles get organised around the viral RNA strands. Thus the virus breeds it-self with the help of cells of higher organisms, and in this it "donates" to the host some DNA with its own genetic information (figure 9.3).
For gene therapy the middle part of RNA strand of a retrovirus vector can be replaced with a RNA fragment with the nucleotide sequence of the healthy gene to be implanted. In the host cell, under influence of the reverse transcriptase, a DNA strand with the healthy gene is produced. This strand gets incorporated in a host chromosome. The host cell now starts producing the protein, which it was not able to produce earlier. Thus the physiological deficiency, resulting from the defective gene, is got over and remedied. As the viral RNA has lost a middle portion, which controls formation of viral core and coat proteins, the viral proteins are not synthesized in the host cell, and, therefore new virus particles are not formed. This prevents repeated infection of the host cells, and consequently complications, including cancer induction in the host, are avoided.
There are numerous workers in the field of gene therapy. The first case of gene therapy was for the genetic disease "severe combined immunodeficiency" (SCID). About 25% of all cases of SCID are due to deficiency of the enzyme adenosine deaminase (ADA), which is necessary for functioning of the T-cells, a type of white blood cells. These cells are a very important part of our immune system. Structure and location of the ADA gene on the chromosome number 20 are known. The first experiment was done on two young female children in Ohio, USA, Cynthia and Ashanthi, who had been diagnosed as suffering from SCID due to ADA deficiency. The team led by Blaese, separated T-cells from blood of the girls, and cultured them. Specially prepared retrovirus particles, with "ADA gene", included in their RNA genetic strand, were added to the culture. The ADA gene got incorporated in the genome of the T-cells in the culture. Such T-cells were injected into the patients, This treatment brought about marked improvement in the health of the girls. But as T-cells in blood have limited life, it was necessary to repeat the treatment periodically. It was thought that, if the stem cells from the bone marrow could be removed, cultured, exposed to ADA-gene carrying virus and then injected into the body of the patient, the cells would somehow find their way back to the bone marrow, and, as these cells are long lasting and give rise to T-cells, it would be a near permanent treatment of the disease. Blaese and Anderson did exactly this in 1990 with the two girls, and in 1994 both the girls were doing well, though the results were not formally published then (Elmer-Dewitt, 1994). The results were announced in Washington in October 1995 in the journal 'Science'. Both the girls had developed a strong immune system, and were leading a near normal life. Both the patients, however were being given doses of a preparation containing the ADA enzyme as a precaution. (Injections of bovine ADA is the conventional therapy for this otherwise lethal disease.)
Experiments on gene therapy for several diseases, using different techniques, on experimental animals like mice, are being done in a number of different laboratories around the world.
Among deliberate eugenic measures the only feasible ones (as shown in the figure 9.4) have been biological engineering, gene therapy and genetic counselling. It is notable that all feasible measures are of the nature of negative eugenics.
All negative eugenic measures have a dysgenic aspect; they allow disadvantageous recessive genes to accumulate in the population. But for this reason, use of spectacles and other products of biological engineering, gene therapy and genetic counselling cannot be done away with. The dysgenic effects are to be tolerated, as in words of Smith (1973) the undesirable effects are "part of the price we pay for being civilized". Besides we hope that technological advances are so rapid that we would be in position to counteract effect of accumulating recessive genes through use of new technology. Moreover, there is the possibility that, given time, some of the recessive genes would improve through mutation.
FIG. 9.2: Diagram to show effect of gene therapy on a somatic cell and a germ cell. Thick black lines and arrows indicate cell lineage. "Hollow" lines with "dots and dashes" denote propagation of genetic changes, introduced into germ cells in gene therapy, while "hollow" line with only "dashes" is meant to indicate blindly ending genetic changes, introduced into a somatic cell.
FIG. 9.3: Technique for Gene Therapy. (Simplified from Verma, I.M., 1990) (A retrovirus particle has only a strand of RNA, and no DNA. It also includes an enzyme, reverse transcriptase, which is not found in cells of higher organisms. When the virus infects a cell of a higher form, the RNA strand and enzyme molecule make their way into the host cell. Here, under influence of the viral enzyme, a strand of DNA is synthesised. This DNA strand contains the same genetic message as the viral RNA. Somehow the DNA finds its way into the host cell nucleus, and gets incorporated in one of the host chrmomosomes. Now, with help of host cell enzymes, the viral DNA starts producing viral RNA and proteins, and from these new viral particles get organised. In gene therapy the viral proteins producing part of viral RNA is replaced with an RNA version of the thrapeutic gene. In the host cell the viral genetic strand has the same fate as the viral strand in normal viral reproduction, but now in brings about production of the therapeutic protein, and not viral proteins. Actual technique is more complex than what appears from this diagram.)
FIG. 9.4: Eugenic Measures.
What is in store for us?
From the foregoing account it is obvious that our future will be largely shaped by our own activities. Man, with his civilization and technology, has emerged as a major geological force. But human activities so far have been mostly damaging to the life sustaining quality of our planet. However, our consciousness allows us to evaluate our own activities. We have capacity to learn through our experience, and we diseminate what we have learnt both horizontally within the generation as well as vertically down the generation series. There is growing environment consciousness amongst us. This gives us hope for a future not so bleak.
According to Toffler (1980) our civilization is now entering the third phase. The first phase has been agricultural, and the second industrial. The third phase has been referred to simply as the third wave by Toffler. The author foretells the following features of the third phase.
(1) There will be amazing variety of energy sources - hydrogen, solar, geothermal, tidal, biomass, lightening discharges, advanced nuclear technology, and also energy sources not yet imagined. Emphasis will be on renewable rather than on exhaustible sources.
(2) Information and imagination will play very significant role in technology, considerably more significant than in the second or the industrial phase. Computers and computer chips will play a very pronounced role both in disemination as well as development of imaginative plans.
(3) Technology will be far more diversified, base being provided by Biology, Genetics, Electronics, materials science etc.. Outer space and under the sea operations will be used.
(4) Factories will not be massive and polluting, as they are at present. They will be much smaller and more environment friendly. Many factories and offices will be located in homes.
We are taking eugenics more seriously now. Negative eugenic measures, like gene therapy, genetic counselling and biological engineering appear quite practical. But population control tops our priority list. Smith (1973) said, "Eugenics can wait, birth control cannot". If we do not effectively control population growth in a decade or two through spread of "educated" consciousness, we shall not be able to eliminate from our not so distant future such population crash phenomena as wars, famine and epidemics.
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