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Why We Don't Have Tails

There is a general belief that evolution always leads to positive change - its incremental and linear in direction. It leads to species improvement and refinement. We take this idea into our general lives believing in "survival of the fittest" and a sense that if we set goals and meet our targets we will improve too.


But what if that is not the lesson from evolutionary change?


Research for years tried to discover why our ancient ancestors lost their tails. All kinds of arguments were proposed on the benefits of this adaptation but none truly felt right. In fact, it seemed that given the adaptation came into being when our ancestors still lived in trees it was really a disadvantage to lose them and in fact some reseach shows that if we still had tails our balance would be better. We are in fact less adaptive for the loss that tail!


It appears that what happened was a fairly random genetic mutation and it surviving to be passed onto you and I be no more than an evolutionary fluke; perhaps a seperation of a small group of primates followed shortly afterwards by an enviromental disaster that meant the tailless group accidentaly survived despite not being the best adapted. A random freak of nature and not "survival of the fittest." The tailless primates were not really the fittest to survive.


What are we to make of this? I would say it tells us that sometimes things just happen - not because we have failed or because we are better but sometimes just because its the way things turn out. Things just get that way. The word is fairly chaotic and unpredictable.


If we accept this, we might just be able to ease up on ourselves a little and not think everyting will work out if you have the perfect plan or if you optimise all your strengths. It might allow us the freedom to experiment a little - given that we don't fully control the outcome why not be a little more inspired and take risks?


Instead of being focused on goals all the time perhaps instead it might be worth setting intentions - something more general that allows space for movement and flexibility and unpredictability. Something that allows us to lose our tails without losing our heads.


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