Stupid Design – Evolution really screwed us over! *Evolution #2*

Originally posted on Steemit: in the first part of this series, we took a look at convergent evolution – the process by which two or more separate species develop the same traits despite being geographically separated and isolated for millions of years.

This is, in itself, a demonstration of how brilliant evolution can be; eyes are so complex and specifically formed, yet they developed on SEVEN separate occasions.

Only birds have wings… EXCEPT BATS

Only reptiles have scal – PANGOLIN

SourceSometimes, a great idea is worth hanging on to, and mother nature knows that. But mother nature can also be quite moronic at times, and that’s where we start off; stupid design.

Stupid Design

People naturally look at animals and see the success of billions of years… ok, most smart people. And they’d be right. They’re alive today, or had survived for millions of years, because they evolved in a way that was perfectly adapted to their environment. When that environment changes too rapidly, well, that’s when things typically die off.

But there are some things that don’t seem like ‘adaptations’ at all, but managed to sneak through the evolutionary cracks and survive in animals even to this day.


Perhaps most famously, Richard Dawkins set out to hammer this point home through a dead giraffe.

What he demonstrates is that, given a slow enough process, badly designed elements of an animal can get through without substantial consequence.

In the example of the giraffe (For those of you who cannot watch the video), there is a nerve called the recurrent laryngeal nerve which goes from the brain to the larynx, but rather than taking a direct route of about 2 inches, it takes a huge detour straight down to the heart, U-turning back up and into the larynx, for a journey totaling 4.6 metres!

This inefficient process is a historical legacy going all the way back to fish, in the pre-neck ages. As necks got longer, the nerve subtly got stretched out with no real consequence. You can even see less extreme results in us humans and other animals – even dinosaurs:

SourceThere’s no better place to say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

But sometimes, it IS broken, and life has just has to deal with it

Giraffe 2

Also, ever wonder what it feels like to be born, only to be welcomed with a 5-foot plummet to the ground? Welcome to the life of a baby giraffe. These guys have to sort themselves out, seriously.

Human Stomachs

You know, our stomachs can’t digest the main component in plant matter – Cellulose. Typically, it’s bacteria that does all the breaking down, and cows, for example, have no problem with this. But we don’t have that bacteria at all.

Sea mammals

You’d think, given they spend 100% of their time in the water, they’d learn how to extract air through some kind of… I duno, gill system. This is what convergent evolution was invented for! But no, moving the nose to the top of the head and massively increasing lung capacity should be a sufficient workaround.

It really looks like a nose when you see it close up…

Human feet

26…That’s how many bones in the human foot. 26 moving parts for a rigid body part. Of course, this is another historical legacy from when our apey ancestors needed flexible feet to swing around and and grab stuff, but now, those 26 bones gift us with:

‘ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and broken ankles’ – Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University


The eye

As imperfect as they are perfect. As Claire Ainsworth and Michael Le Page in New Scientist Put it:

’Their light-sensing structure, the retina, is wired up back-to-front, with the light-sensitive cells behind the nerves and blood vessels that support it. Not only does light have to pass through this layer first, obscuring the image, but the nerves and blood vessels have to dive through the retina, creating a blind spot in each eye.’


Looking back at Part 1 of this series, I showed how the Octopus evolved eyes separately from us, but in the exact same way. They see like we do and the same genes were involved in its development.

However, they got it right. They didn’t have the same evolutionary path as us vertebrates.

Spot the difference
SourceNew Scientist continues:

‘when eyes first evolved in the ancestors of modern vertebrates, the retina arose from an in folding of the developing brain, and the cells that could form light receptors happened to end up on the inside of this fold.’

Having said that, new research supposes a decent reason why.

There’s a whole range of issues with the delicacy and disease-prone eye of a human, but we ain’t got time for that.

All of these are problematic and annoying, but we can just put up and shut up, right? Well… not always.

Fatal Design

If I ask you, you’ll probably start thinking about babies and birth. Correct! What a terrible design. Being bipedal has had a lot of advantages for us, and having a big brain has also had a lot of advantages. But put them together and what’s the solution?

Birth Canal

A narrow birth canal that can actually squeeze and potentially crush a baby’s skull, making it otherwise impossible to birth naturally. Without modern surgery, people just had to deal with it via death.



The pharynx shouldn’t even exist at all. This is the passage that allows food to pass through. It’s also the passage that allows AIR to pass through. How efficient, putting them both together! Sure, it dramatically increases the chances of choking, something we all do at least a few times in any given lifetime, but hey!



Speaking of breathing, how is it that we haven’t actually figured out how to do it?

The human breathing reflex happens due to the detection of carbon dioxide. Think about it. Our breathing reflex is NOT something that comes about directly from the absence of oxygen, the stuff that makes us not die. This indirect way of doing things means that in higher altitudes, humans basically suffocate without even noticing due to the lack of oxygen in the thinned air. Since there is not an abundance of carbon dioxide either, the human body can’t regulate its own breathing.

Wisdom Teeth

If you only have one argument against God, this is the one.
Not only are wisdom teeth vestigial – totally useless – but they are downright painful, and before medicine, ensuing infections could often lead to death. All for a couple of teeth you don’t even need.


Hyena Clitoris

Prepare your imaginations. During Hyena pregnancy, the mother provides a high level of hormones to strengthen the babies within. Unfortunately, these androgens damage ovaries and make it difficult for those children to conceive when they grow up.

What’s worse, is that the clitoris, which also serves as the birth canal in Hyenas, grows up to 7 inches, protruding like a penis from her body.


“Imagine giving birth through a penis,” said study co-author Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University

Errr, no thanks.

The consequence of this is that the tiny shaft – barely an inch in diameter – is ripped apart during birth, providing hyenas with a particularly high death rate in pregnant mothers.

The brain

The mother of all f**k ups. I mean, it’s wonderful and all, but there’s a phenomenal amount of inbuilt imperfections that are simply inexcusable. Wisdom teeth, for example. You can blame big brains for those.

Mental conditions are so rife in the human brain that we need a giant, 947 page book, the DSM-5 just to remember them all.

Many of these ‘disorders’ which lead us to shortened lives, suicides, homicides and more were actually evolutionarily advantageous back in the day, but our rapid change in lifestyle and culture made them a hindrance.

Bi-polar disorder, for example, is considered a mental tool that would have had a couple of advantages. First, mood swings would align with seasons and light, in the same kind of way bears hibernate or other creatures change their persona rapidly.

Second, bipolar disorder in women could have been advantageous for procreation, being more ‘manic when it’s summer time and convenient to get busy. This is backed up by the fact that bi-polar disorder is most prevalent in women of reproductive age.

Others include:
• OCD, which served as a psychological immune system
• ADHD was a great tool of innovation
• Dyslexia was a side-effect of a creative, problem-solving mind (only made a hindrance since the invention of writing)
• Austism, which served as a kind of survival superpower back in the hunter-gatherer days, working solo rather than in social groups.
• Stress, another wonderful survival skill now used to make us sick and die more easily.

So there you have it. A small sample of a huge, tangled mess we all put up with; humans AND animals. Next time you look in the mirror, admiring your own perfection, think again.


Theft and loss.

Got my camera stolen the other day in Hong Kong, New Territories.

When I say stolen, I mean I left it on a bench, and then when I came back about 20 seconds later, it was gone.

And when I say 20 seconds, I mean about 5 minutes.

The notable detail about this situation was my lack of emotion toward it. I really didn’t care deep down, nearly as much as I care about how many umbrellas people use when walking side by side in the streets, or the inconsistent line that walking pedestrians seem to insist on following, causing me to weave and dodge unnecessarily. These things really, really irk me.

This happens whenever I lose things, really. And it happens more often than it really ought to, I’m just that vacant minded. Once I left my wallet on an ATM machine in a bank to go upstairs when some bank person called me personally. Distracted, I went up half a flight, remembered it was still there, ran down to get it and, tadaa! Gone. They saw the guy on tape but that’s about the last I heard of it.

That wallet had my bank cards, my collection of notes from around the world, about $70 and various other things, including my drivers license (the one where you can’t drive but it can be used for ID) and my residence card, which is needed to leave the country, which I was going to try and do the next day.

And again, very little emotion about it. What happened inside my head? A series of immediately logical possible outcomes, solutions, Worst-cases, justifying the fact that it was stolen, and that it doesn’t really matter because, honestly, it was old and needed replacing anyway, or it was only $70, A mere 3 hours of work, and how to explain to friends without coming across as an absolute fucking moron. People who happen to be with me, or people who I share the misfortune with are often surprised about how nonchalant I can be about it. I mean, the camera was over $250.

But really, the things I get annoyed about are fundamentally different from the ones I *should* get annoyed about. When I lose something, or when I’m late to leave my apartment for falling asleep or whatever, it’s MY fault, MY mistake, MY stupidity and lack of responsibility. I lost that camera because I was too busy trying to avoid rain and I was too stupid to realise putting it on the bench in the first place rather than my pocket was a bad idea.

When it comes to OTHER people or other factors in life that do no live up to standards to make my life run as smoothly as I expect, THAT annoys me. For example, the traffic lights in Vietnam are set up in a way that, if you are caught on a red light, you can be damn sure that the next 15 will be on Red when you arrive, too. They have it timed perfectly. I honestly remember counting 13 straight red lights until I took an unpredictable road and the alignment was altered. This is just a flawed design.

Late trains, Phones that run out of battery too quickly, or turn of in the middle of the night for no reason, causing my alarm to not happen, making me late. No free wifi in a hyper modern city, or no easy access to toilets in what you’d think would be a toilet-necessary environment.

It just really grates my groin when stuff that should work, doesn’t. When I only have myself to blame, getting angry seems a bit meaningless, and I have to just take logical steps to improve and make sure it doesn’t happen the next time.

So here is the process, as close to how I remember it, from the moment I realised I lost my camera:

– Walking back, tributaries of hopeful thoughts and pessimism on best-worse case scenarios, along with logging the possible losses (A life without a camera, the 20 or so photos I had on there, a couple with my own face involved etc).

– Noting somebody who was currently smiling with a hand placing a mystery object into their own bag, which says ‘I.T. Sale’. Yeah, I bet. Buy NON get ONE free, eh? I know your type, man. That glee in your eye stinks of guilt.

– Realising upon arrival that it is definitely gone, I shrug it off, state the annoyance of it all, look around like someone might run up to me and return it, and then walking off dejectedly.

– Then comes the stage where I have to plan my life without it. Do I buy a phone with an extra good camera so I no longer need one? If I buy another camera, I’d have to get one better, which would mean at least $400. Can I afford that? What would I have to do to make that less of a pain. I will have to take up a second job or a few hours of work outside of work to catch up on the loss. I’m couchsurfing so I’ve technically saved more than that just by living for free on holiday rather than the huge hotel prices.
But the idea was to save money, not to break even comparative to hotel expenditure.
Suspect everyone.

– Then there are the stories that I shared and the friend I was with shared to make it seem less of a blow compared, the shrugging of the shoulders, with a slight financial calculation going on in the background.

– Then it sort of faded off, changed subject and other than a few moments where I appear in a place or see a sight that I would usually snap old snappy out to immortalise, realise that this action is no longer a part of me and then slunk off, I was pretty much over it.

Maybe if I panicked a bit more each time, I would learn to stop losing my stuff and save thousands of dollars a year.