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Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The coincidental evolution hypothesis

There are almost 8 billion humans on this planet. Hence, we often think that we are the center of Evolution. In some ways, this view is similar to the heliocentrism debate during the Roman Catholic Inquisition and the trial of the Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642).

The coincidental evolution hypothesis views humans as passengers in evolution, compared to dominant species like bacteria. I noticed the coincidental evolution hypothesis in an excellent 2014 Aeon article: When bacteria kill us, it’s more accident than assassination.

An analogy with Galileo Galilei may clarify the article’s relevance: bacteria equal the Sun, while humans are a moon orbiting one of many planets orbiting that Sun. Nature‘s updated 2016 diagram of the Tree of Life argues the same: most of evolution is about bacteria. Humans are hardly visible. See note below.

As noted in my 2016 blog, Nature’s Tree of Life does not even show viruses as these are not alive, at least according to Nature’s definition.

Most bacteria and viruses live in our oceans as that (probably) protects them from ultraviolet sunlight. Ocean bacteria are the most likely hosts of marine viruses (the Conversation). The volume of ocean bacteria and marine viruses is well beyond our comprehension.

From a species and from a volume perspective, humans may indeed be considered as passengers in Evolution. My 2018 blog: “In [the updated 2016] Tree of Life, humans only represent less than 0.0000004% of all species. Volume wise, this % of humans must be much lower given the enormous volume of bacteria.”

Many bacteria live in symbiosis – or cooperation – with animals, humans, and/or plants. Sometimes, innocent bystanders (eg, humans) get hurt in a conflict – or competition – between dominant species (ie, bacteria). Hence, the article title: When bacteria kill us, it’s more accident than assassination.

Similarly, many viruses are key in the evolution of species (eg, Science Daily, Science Focus, Wiki). It may well be argued that a virus and its host also represent symbiosis. Sometimes, a virus kills its host. This is by accident and not by intent. A virus needs its host.

Any life on planets is facilitated by their Sun. Perhaps, the analogy above is still valid: bacteria facilitate(d) human life. Probably, to be continued.

Source: updated 2016 Tree of Life by the journal Nature

Note: animals and humans are hidden within the Ophistokonta, part of the Eukaryotes. See lower-right corner.

No Coincidence (2002) by Kelly Rowland
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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