Nuts , Berries , Dinosaurs and Counting .
9 June 2007
Have you ever wondered why plant seeds have a kernel and a surrounding layer of nutrient flesh (think peach) ?
In an extremely competitive environment , where the plants and predators have co-evolved , the plants do not have to worry about spreading seeds , as every plant-predator has evolved to get at the nutrients locked inside the seed-shell .
There is an arms-race between animals and the kernel .
Seed-eating organisms with beak-and-gizzard (like birds) , outperform teeth nutcrackers . The reason is teeth can only process one seed at a time , while a beak can pick up a lot of seeds and process them simultaneously in the gizzard .
This means a lot of extra calories in the same time .
The gizzard is simply a muscular pouch that grinds stones together . The stones macerate the seeds . Cracking open the protective shells of a lot of seeds is more efficient than teeth . Hence , birds and chickens have no teeth .
What has this to do with counting ?
The gizzard has a finite size . Also , the stones used get worn . Those too round to serve as efficient macerators (worn teeth) , get regurgitated . A competitive animal learns to keep track of the number of stones it swallows , as well as the number of stones it regurgitates .
This leads to Fibonacci type of counting . A chicken counts very differently from a monkey .
Why doesn’t mammals use gizzards ?
Now imagine a massive depopulation of species . (KT ) The successful plant survivors will be the plants that bait-make food accessible non-specialized animals . This is a sweetener around the previous shell . The surviving plants will be ones who made extra nutrients available after the previous nut-crackers became extinct . There is no need to re-evolve a gizzard . (The re-evolution of a gizzard in mammals is dicey.)
Eat a nutty fruit like an olive and notice how your teeth handle the pip . There is a primitive-handling mechanism at teeth and jaw level preventing teeth damage . It is a true hardwired instinct to eat soft-fruits with hard kernels .
Now notice how much better you are at throwing the pip into the wastepaper basket after eating the olive . (Try it)
The reason is that monkeys do not eat one fruit at a time . They cram them into their cheeks (an obvious evolutionary adaptation) . They then chew the flesh from around the kernels away (using some extremely sophisticated algorithms to avoid teeth damage) . They spit out the pits . But they cannot really macerate the resultant flesh unless they know that all the pips are gone . This mechanism is counting .
What does this mean to you ?
The relation between primitive counting nerve complexes and trajectory computation has been discussed before .
Chewing something will enhance trajectory computation (cf baseball)
Want to play better golf?
Chew a clove-ball .
The Roman empire’s military prowess was built on the humble olive pit .
All the others can be shown to have this component .
Put ball-bearings in your food and enhance your mathematical prowess .