Re: misusing systematics

Glenn A. Friedrich (
Sat, 06 Jul 1996 17:42:29 -0500

Elaine Morgan wrote in article <>:


: But what I am interested in is why we split from the apes, and what
: happened to the hominid line after that, so that it led to such an
: anomalous end-product as Homo sapiens.


"Anomalous end-product"? I'm curious as what you mean by this (do I
have to read your book to find out?). Is it that humans are unexpectedly
different from all other primate species? This seems odd as the number of
primate species is relatively small and the morphological diversity among
them is quite large.

Is it that humans are just an outrageously fantastic species next to
all the rest of the Earth's biota? Hardly even a contest, I'd say. Humans,
with our mammalian physiology and anatomy are rather prosaic next to the
likes of the fungus _Entomophthora muscae_. _E muscae_ grow on the
exoskeleton of the common house fly searching for access into the body;
once achieved, the fungus takes over the fly's nervous system causing it
to fly upward until it hits the rafters. The fungus then excretes a sticky
substance causing the insect to become lodged in place. From this high
perch, _E muscae_ disperses progeny far and wide. There's more: while in
control of the nervous system, _E muscae_ manages to make the fly zombie
look sexy to passing, clueless flies. This ensures propagation (of the
fungus...). What caused this demonic mushroom to diverge from the "grow on
the rock" variety of fungi? Is this an 'anomalous' organism? It is all a
matter of perspective, methinks. Or, methinks it is meaningless to call
any species "anomalous."

And what is this "end-product" business? Have humans stopped evolving? Or
put another way: have humans stopped reproducing and become immune to
mutations? I don't think so.


--Glenn A. Friedrich

Postscriptum: In the zeal generated by rhetorical excess, I am spurred
into formulating the "Demonic Mushroom Hypothesis". Stay tuned...