New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Deepening the Time Scale

September 28, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Walt Anderson

An Evolutionary Puzzle in Southern Arizona

by Walt Anderson

Though each organism is inherently a time traveler, its genes a partial chronicle of its evolutionary history, we may be the sole species to be able to reflect on that deeper history.  People with deep imaginations can visualize the ape in our behaviors, the prototypical vertebrate in our embryos, the symbiotic merger reflected in our mitochondria.  Some can look at a hillside and envision it as a product of tectonic upheavals, erosional incisions and depositions, the lithification that turned sediment into rock that has weathered into a substrate supporting juniper, cactus, and spiny lizard.  With some training, there is hope for those of us who don’t normally see so well.  Our temporal blinders may be lifted, our spirits uplifted by the joys of discovery and insight.  Informed imagination — that greatest of time machines — can take us further toward understanding the Sky Islands than mere physical descriptions ever will.  Join me, then, for a little time travel, not to see it all (who has time?), but for a sample of how informed imagination works… (more…)