The Fruit, the Tree, and the Serpent: Why We See So Well by Lynne A. Isbell

By Lynne A. Isbell

From the temptation of Eve to the venomous homicide of the robust Thor, the serpent seems all through time and cultures as a determine of mischief and distress. the global prominence of snakes in faith, fantasy, and folklore underscores our deep connection to the serpent—but why, while so few people have firsthand event? The fabulous solution, this publication indicates, lies within the singular influence of snakes on primate evolution. Predation strain from snakes, Lynne Isbell tells us, is eventually liable for the very best imaginative and prescient and massive brains of primates—and for a serious point of human evolution.

Drawing on large learn, Isbell additional speculates how snakes can have inspired the improvement of a distinctively human habit: our skill to indicate for the aim of directing cognizance. A social task (no one issues whilst on my own) depending on speedy and exact localization, pointing could have decreased lethal snake bites between our hominin ancestors. it will probably have additionally figured in later human habit: snakes, this e-book eloquently argues, might have given bipedal hominins, already outfitted with a non-human primate communique process, the evolutionary nudge to indicate to speak for social strong, a severe step towards the evolution of language, and all that undefined.


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One of the early problems with the Visual Predation hypothesis was that not all predators have forward-facing eyes. Mongooses are one such example of a carnivore with more laterally placed eyes. To account for this, in 1992 Cartmill modified his hypothesis by stating that only those visual predators that are nocturnal need orbital convergence and forward-facing eyes in order to see clearly that which lies in front of them. Diurnal predators do not need to have forward-facing eyes because their pupils constrict in bright light and serve to sharpen the image so that they are still able to see clearly even with laterally placed eyes.

Their ability to reach for and manipulate objects with the digits of their forepaws has led some to suggest that reaching and grasping evolved even before the rodent and primate lineages diverged (Whishaw et al. 1998; Iwaniuk and Whishaw 2000; Whishaw 2003). While the presence of nails and grasping hands in Carpolestes and other plesiadapiforms may reveal little about the evolution of primate characteristics, they may shed light on the characteristics of the common ancestor of Laurasiatheria and Euarchontoglires before those taxa dispersed from South America.

As so often happens in science, the information to put together the Indo-Malagasy Eden hypothesis was all out there, available for anyone to assemble the threads. It turns out that at least two people have done that, and done it independently of one another. My own trajectory toward the Indo-Malagasy Eden hypothesis began in the early days with my Snake Detection theory. I actually included it in the first version of my Snake Detection manuscript but removed it when it generated strong negative emotions from the reviewers.

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