Last night Emily and I were flipping through channels and came across NOVA. They had a special about a family that had four members that walked around on all fours. They didn’t crawl like babies do, but “walked” bent over, using the bottom of their feet and their palms to get around. The scientific interest in them is that some believe they can help lead to a discovery of the gene that enables us to walk upright, and possibly the gene that increases our intelligence and allows for language. It went on to explain that all animals have the same set of genes. It’s the difference between which ones are active and which ones are dormant that make up all of the differences seen in the animal kingdom.
What’s really interesting is I’m currently reading the Uplift series by David Brin. These books take place in the future when humans have made contact with other alien species, and apparently there’s been a multi-billion year practice of one highly advanced species “uplifting” a much less advanced species to the same level. Of course the newly advanced species will have to repay this honor through a few million years of indentured service. Anyways, humans had uplifted chimpanzees and dolphins by the time contact was made and saved us from being “uplifted” ourselves. The whole point of this, is that right now, we are at the beginning of the process. We’re taking the first tiny steps towards being able to genetically modify a species, enabling them to speak and have higher thought processes. I love it when science and science fiction begin to meet.
Talking animals?! But who will listen?