Evolution Did Not Design an Optimal Human Body

(p. A15) In Alex Bezzerides’s entertaining “Evolution Gone Wrong: The Curious Reasons Why Our Bodies Work (or Don’t),” the author’s quest is to determine the origins of the “aches and pains of the masses and why they happen”—not the mechanical causes of our maladies but the evolutionary ones.

. . .

. . ., according to Mr. Bezzerides, . . . four million years ago our ancestors transitioned from a fruit- and leaves-based diet to one of grasses and sedges. Their molars ballooned out to gargantuan proportions, which was not at first problematic, since their substantive jaws readily accommodated the newly enlarged teeth. But as humans controlled fire, learned to cook, became cooperative, and developed hunting techniques and an accompanying armamentarium of cutting implements, the requirement for robust dentition diminished. We were nevertheless stuck with the legacy of “a mouth full of large teeth.”

. . .

One requires no better evidence of our design’s lack of metaphysical oversight than the absurd configuration of our esophagus and trachea—so near each other as to invite trouble. A benign creator would surely have designed a respiratory system in a way that did not leave us in perpetual fear of choking. But once again this apparently bizarre arrangement results both from our evolutionary origins—the lungs began as an offshoot of the digestive system—and from the requirement for a descended larynx. This “clunky anatomical fault” may give us a fright every time a “hot dog takes a wrong turn at the intersection,” as Mr. Bezzerides writes, but it also facilitated the origin of human speech.

. . .

. . . , he has provided us with a timely reminder that we, as a species, may be outgrowing our evolutionary history and the biology we are constructed from. The emerging technology of genome writing may offer an opportunity to take human design back to first principles.

For the full review, see:

Adrian Woolfson. “BOOKSHELF; Our Fallible Bodies.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, June 1, 2021): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date May 31, 2021, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘Evolution Gone Wrong’ Review: Our Fallible Bodies.”)

The book under review is:

Bezzerides, Alex. Evolution Gone Wrong: The Curious Reasons Why Our Bodies Work (or Don’t). Toronto, Canada: Hanover Square Press, 2021.

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