It all started with a question about zebra stripes.
Someone asked why they have such uniform-looking, distinct markings, and naturally I jumped in with the flourish of a long-time busybody. With facts. So I explained it has to do with the lion that eats them. That nature, in cooperation with evolution, had evened the playing field for predator and prey by making it difficult to discern one single zebra amongst a whole herd. Any lion looking at a herd of zebra cannot make out the one it will stalk, hunt, and rip apart, because of all those stripes. That's evolution. Then nature comes in and determines the lion should at least have a chance, and through trial and error, the lion learns that if it charges the herd, they scatter everywhere which makes it easy to find the weak or young ones. An evolved trait is balanced out by a learned behavior.
So that makes sense. And look at the predators, their evolved eyes are always dead-center, keeping keen vision at the most proximate advantage to chase and catch prey. Look at most prey - think of a gazelle. As grazers, they don't need to focus straight ahead, their eyes are on either side of the head giving them the peripheral vision needed to find and eat the best grasses. This mode of sight also makes it easier to turn on a dime while being chased by that hungry lion. Evolved traits.
This is a pretty common fact in most species. If you examine the placement of their eyes, you can usually determine what their diet consists of. Except one...
Apes carry 97% of all the constituents found in our DNA. They are chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas (all the rest are monkeys and have tails). Look at any ape, their eyes are close together but they are grazers and fruit-eaters. In the natural world, they don't hunt for their food, they're walking on it, climbing in it. Why are their eyes fixed in an evolutionary position dictating a predator? Wouldn't their eyes be more advantageous if situated on either side of their head? It would seem ... except for that one item which, after 240,000 years of evolution, we possess with such reckless pride: our oversized brain.
Could it be imbeded in genetic codes still to be discovered that evolution is somehow predisposed to the knowledge of certain traits, to appear later in a developing species? Almost too neat, too tidy. But look at us:
We are long-since past the hunter/gatherer stage, we don't need to stalk and kill for food anymore, we do that at the Shop-Rite. Our eyes, however, betray a predator species needing front-focused vision having nothing to do with survival. Or does it?
We're the only species besides the bonobo ape who procreates face to face. You need front-focued eyes to do that, if you're human, because our instinctual need is to gaze at our partner - it enhances the sex act thereby securing a better chance of continuing the species. (Oh Cathy you're so cold about this...) So part of insuring our survival dictates that we be able to see each other. Not all, but part.
Then again: Would we make better drivers if our eyes had better peripheral vision, placed farther apart? Or is it best to keep the narrow focus we now have? Certainly driving for humans determines something of our survival, as does so many of our big-brained inventions. Nevetheless, we're of the belief that more people benefit from our discoveries than not, and when thinking of penicillin I agree. In part. Penicillin also introduced many weak but uncontrollable viruses. But back to the point:
Do we look the way we're "supposed" to, like zebras?
Clothes are the conceit of modesty, another product of the human brain. Then nature steps in to defend evolution and tells us that without clothing we'd freeze and die. Seems to balance out. I think I'm nearing the point:
Does some equation exist in evolution that has a kind of forecast as to what a species will require, far into its future? And if so, how does nature know for certain a species will be successful? I can't imagine any thing or act going to waste in the cool waters of natural selection, so perhaps there exists some factor we'll never understand but still be able to question.
And as long as we question, that's enough for me.