Handy Mutations


Added dexterity

Our hands are unusually dextrous, allowing us to make beautiful stone tools and write words. That might be partly down to a bit of DNA called HACNS1, which has evolved rapidly since our ancestors split from the ancestors of chimps. We don’t know what HACNS1 does, but it is active in our arms and hands as they develop.

See other: What Makes Humans Human?

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9 thoughts on “Handy Mutations

  1. If HACNS1 causes human hands to make beautiful stone and write words, can we identify which part of that DNA causes hands to make weapons? If we could isolate that, if we were no longer able to make weapons, perhaps we could be on the way to some sort of peace? :-)

  2. Oops, darn typo again, that would be “beautiful stone tools” since we’re not the ones who make the beautiful stone, we just use our HACNS1 to turn it into tools… Come to think of it, we don’t make beautiful stone tools anymore, do we? Does that mean the HACNS1 was stored in our appendices and the doctors removed it? Just thinking out loud and seeing if I can’t find another conspiracy theory about stone tools. Well, Arch where are you when we need you? Surely you’ve got something to add, I know you love math.

  3. …Arch where are you when we need you?” – Be careful what you ask for —

    …can we identify which part of that DNA causes hands to make weapons? If we could isolate that, if we were no longer able to make weapons, perhaps we could be on the way to some sort of peace?

    That would allow us entry to the wonderful world of human genetic engineering, and I can’t wait to see where that would lead! Some flawed human would ultimately decide for the world what the ‘perfect‘ human being should be like. Quirkiness would become an extinct attribute, then where would someone like me (or you!) be in a cookie-cutter world of perfect little automatons?

  4. I see your point re: genetic engineering, but I, for one, having had contact with non-earth sentience, do not worry about the issue. Gen. engineering is a fact and the process, as of now, irreversible: it is going to go forward, whatever that means, and whatever it means, Earthians will adapt as they always have. Good or bad? Hmm… irrelevant. If climate change is not man-made but a serious dogleg into a global climate change lasting thousands of years, perhaps also irreversible, then perhaps also, man will re-engineer itself to survive the changes. If I had my choice, I’d like a body that can live in vacuum space, that can instantly program itself to survive rapidly changing environments, and can maintain itself without ingesting “food” for months, even years. The alternative may well be extinction. I would always choose survival because life is a quest; change and surprises is what makes it real. Even now, knowing what I already know, if I had the choice to become an android I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute. The trick, of course, is to be fully aware that “sentience” is not dependent upon any material state; that it is mind, and mind exists with or without a body. This is suspected by most, known by less but generally rejected because of Matrix programming. Mind beings cannot be controlled through inducements, cannot be frightened, cannot be enslaved to any limited belief system.

  5. I, for one, having had contact with non-earth sentience” – Yes, I recall your mentioning that at some point about a year or so ago (Earthtime).

    The trick, of course, is to be fully aware that ‘sentience’ is not dependent upon any material state; that it is mind, and mind exists with or without a body.

    Yes, I saw that Star Trek episode – season 2, episode 20 (1968), “Return to Tomorrow” —

  6. Well there you go: the ultimate in reliable information. If it’s good enough for Mr. Spock, it’s good enough for me. Those off-earth Teachers had this information as part of the whole program: if you can think it, imagine it, image it, draw it, describe it, then “it” by definition exists. On earth you have a whole different (very limited and I would say, coarse) sense of existence. You can actually conceive of your beingness ending. I never had that and I don’t understand it. I cannot imagine termination or end. And speaking of Star Trek, I cannot imagine “fiction” as something that does not exist. To me everything is real, if in different, how to put it, dimensions?

  7. If it’s good enough for Mr. Spock, it’s good enough for me.” – I met Nimoy, at the Director’s Guild showing of ‘Star Trek IV, The Search For Spock,’ and producer Harve Bennet, as well.

  8. Now I’m truly jealous… and I don’t do jealous! Leonard Nimoy is probably my number one TV-movie hero of the twentieth C. I hope it was a wonderful meeting, Arch.

  9. Yeah, it was – it was special for me, but I doubt that he remembered it ten seconds later.

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