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manatee from top

dentistry and Transformers and intelligent design

Today I had a crown prep.  That is to say, my dentist did horrible [but generally not painful] things to a tooth well in the back that has had a root canal [sometime in the forgotten past], but has decayed.  In three weeks, he'll put in a crown.

My dentist has various kewl things in his office, including these screen jobbies on arms on which you can view your x-rays while someone points out exactly what the problem is or, alternatively, DVDs while you're waiting for the xylocaine to kick in or whatever.  So they had Transformers in the DVD player.  I would never have intentionally watched it.  But now I'm going to have to rent it, because I didn't get to see it all and because I'm not entirely sure of what was going on in the parts where my view was blocked either by the dentist or the tech.  And because I was mildly amused.

But the question is:

Why would living 'bots from outer space choose bipedal locomotion?  It's not a particularly stable design. 

So I was fussing in a mildly stunned way to the woman who collects the money afterwards [the stunned part was a result of having horrible things done to my mouth and, possibly, the new anti-depressant I'm on] and remarking that vertebrates are set up the same way with bilateral symmetry and four limbs and all, but that's no reason for 'bots from outer space to be and I said, as an explanatory aside, that I believed in evolution.  She's a very nice person and quite good at interpersonal relations, but it turns out that she believes in intelligent design.  [We agreed to disagree.  In this part of the world -- maybe everywhere -- quite a few people turn out to think evolution didn't happen.]

I realized later that I'm not exactly sure what that means.  I don't _think_ it means believing that God built each creature from scratch, which I know the Biblical literalists [like my tame Jehovah's Witnesses] believe.  But if it does, and definitely for the literalists, why believe that God could only come up with one basic vertebrate body design?  What poverty of imagination for an all-powerful deity!

And, if you were going to make a large animal that lived on bamboo, would you start out with a bear?  Seriously.


I prefer to believe in evolution. Because if the entire process of menstruation and gestation was deliberate, then I'd just be cross!
"And, if you were going to make a large animal that lived on bamboo, would you start out with a bear? Seriously."

No, but I might start out with a raccoon... Oh, wait, that makes me an evolutionist!
Hmmm. Just now, overwhelmed with uncertainty by this comment, I checked out my source for these things - the Animal Diversity Web by the UofM Museum of Zoology.

According to them:

1. Giant Pandas are in the family Ursidae, along with other bears.

2. Raccoons are in the family Procyonidae, and are a New World animal, although they've now been introduced in various spots in Eurasia.

3. Red Pandas are in the family Ailuridae, all by their lonesomes, and are an Asian animal.

I wouldn't start with a bear, a raccoon, or a red panda.
Here's the background on my reference.

The last time I took a science class dealing with the material, the contention was that pandas were more closely related to racoons, as the Schaller excerpt indicates (it was published in 1993,) which is more recent, or contemporaneous with, most of the research cited on the Diversity Web. The most recent, dated 2005, I may just go looking for...
How about this?

I wouldn't start with a carnivore.
great gray owl

April 2013

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