Evolution of Death

We speculate how life began and how it developed into the millions of forms it did. Often, we draw a line between ourselves and the other forms and just as often we don’t draw enough of a line and think of all life in terms we understand from our own experience. We think of life beginning as it does for us from two parents of different sex and as ending with death; death from old age, if accident, murder or disease don’t get us first. Neither this beginning nor this end is necessarily so.

If you think of single-celled animals, and plants as well, you will realize that they multiply when one divides into two. There was one ‘parent’ which has gone, but there are two ‘children’. Each generation is a fresh start and nobody dies of old age. But, when animals grew into many cells, we had division of labour and some cells were muscle, some nerve, and only a few got the job of continuing the race by way of eggs and sperms. They went on living in the new generations as their ancestors had, but the muscle and nerve and gland and bone cells couldn’t start new individuals, so they had no chance to begin again at the beginning and, eventually, as we all must, they grew old and died. That is, if accident, murder or disease didn’t get them first.

So the idea of death isn’t part of the idea of life; but if you stop to think what has been made possible by brains and muscles and all the specialized tissues we have, perhaps the ability to play the violin and to look out in wonder at the universe is worth the penalty. You wouldn’t want to be a protozoan or a bacterium, and I wouldn’t either.

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~ by dkcrowdis on February 25, 2008.

17 Responses to “Evolution of Death”

  1. Really, really glad to have you back, Don. How are you? How have you been? Great to read your new blog (hmm but does it have to be mini text on black… I’m getting on a bit a my eyesight is starting to fail :). However, I will come back here for more pearls of your wisdom! Have a good week! Anita

  2. i have finally found this new site after being quite convinced that Don was gone from this world for the past year—he has been writing all this time and the family could not see fit to set up this site sooner—or even post a note on his blogspot to say what was up? very inconsiderate for his readers and for Don, I must say. I question who the current author is to be honest–seems different in tone and nuance from the blogspot……

  3. So glad to have found your new blog.

  4. Don, I have found you again through an email I got from a woman named Norma, and I am happy about that. I wish you had let us old readers know that you had a new blog.

  5. Good to see you back in action!

  6. SO many people don’t know where you moved to…there must be a way to let them know where you are!! Stay happy!

  7. Maybe a pink paramecium….or the MRSA bacteria, since that little bugger is tenacious. I’m glad I poked around and discovered your new blog, I’ve been missing your words.

  8. I was a huge fan of your old blog. You might want to at least point people to this new blog to keep the old readers coming here instead.

  9. Like so many others, I’ve been missing your posts for so long. I didn’t think we’d ever hear from you again. I checked the comments on your last post today on a whim, wondering how long it’d been since you’d last written. And here you are!

    So glad to have you back. I enjoyed everyone of your posts at your previous blog. πŸ™‚

  10. I had never thought of it the complexity before of the millions of cells that make me up to be everything I am today, and I feel blessed to not be a single-celled organism. Thanks for reminding me about the wonder of it all.

  11. Hello Don…and here I thought, at 58, I was an old blogger. My What Would Dad Say (http://blogs.jobdig.com/wwds has been great fun, and I hope I am still writing it in 36 years.
    Well done.

  12. Hello Don. And here I thought your disappearance must have been all my fault. The day I found your blog and got in touch re the old Science Centre days was the day you seemed to have given up blogging. So glad you are back. Since Duncan’s death last year, the CCST folks are few and far between. It’s good to know there are still a few of us around even if we are superannuated.

  13. Hi Don, I am also glad to have found your new blog, I really enjoyed reading your former site and was wondering what happened to you. I found your new site through a link to Wikipedia on your old blog, hopefully others will investigate and find you and once again enjoy your wisdom.

  14. I am so glad you are alive and well adn still writing. It was painful to wait for your new post to appear. Your former website was a great inspiration and I look forward to reading more..
    Best wishes from a 30-something addicted to your blog..

  15. I am so glad you are here and writing again and like some others implore you to please point out on the old blog that you are here on the new one. You were missed.

  16. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation πŸ™‚ Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Pounding!

  17. Hi Donald. It’s great to see you are up and about again.
    You may like to see a story about the world’s oldest blogger,just posted at http://english.ohmynews.com/ArticleView/article_view.asp?menu=A11100&no=383146&rel_no=1&back_url=

    Best wishes, Eric.

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