The grandeur of lice

The creation myths I've heard really turn pale when compared to the breathtaking epic science tells of several milliard years of organisms living, interacting with other individuals, other species, changing and being changed by the environment, generation upon generation, event upon event, atomic level events affecting the development of macroscopic features, life spreading over, above and into the Earth. Of course, as a non-biologist, I only have a very general idea of the details of this story, but there are of course those who do and are in even deeper awe of the story of life.

Michael Suttkus describes the

…adventure story of struggles between the forming broadleaves and the dominant connifers in the Cretaceous, a romantic drama between plant and insect, a comedy as white-bracted sedges evolve flowers, drop the flowers, then evolve them all over again!

and then points out that flowers that naive persons would just look past also have gone through just as magnificient an evolutionary history, and indeed that lets the knowledgeable person be even more impressed by the amazing world we live in.

On this theme, Samir Patel writes in Seed Magazine how we may strive to protect endangered species that look special to us, such as the California condors, while ignoring or even actively extinguishing species just as endangered, because we consider them yucky, such as the California condor lice. Patel concludes, a bit sadly:

…perhaps, in some sense, a California condor without its lice is not quite a California condor.

Darren Naish shows in two articles on parasite-host relationships and co-evolution that this is very literally true.

So, treat those icky bloodsuckers with the respect they are due.

No comments: