Evolution Of The Land-Walkers
From the first moment that anything moved
Methods of motion have ever improved
Self-preservation may be the objective
But “getting somewhere” is the Prime Directive
Millions of years before joggers evolved
The problems of motion had still to be solved
By the very first creatures to travel intentionally.
Mobility started one day in the water
When a minuscule, sea-going, single cell’s daughter
Decided to fight_ with all of her might_
To get from point A to point B.
Most protozoan were loath but to move
By flowing wherever the waves would behoove
And chaffed at the thought of attempting to stray from the herd.
So while they went off in their haphazard fashion
Aimlessly driftin’, splashin’ and crashin’
She squirmed and she struggled with all of her passion
Till something amazing occurred.
Her nucleus shuddered and split with a spasm
And then there were two in her cytoplasm
Which quickly expanded, preparing to further divide.
But ere separation was thoroughly done
She noticed that two “selves” were stronger than one
And agreed there and then_ with her “Siamese” twin_
To keep struggling side by side.
She continued to ‘multiply’ as she ‘divided’
Till hundreds of millions of cells were united
And as they progressed in the purpose to which they had sworn,
They then formed a few synergistic conjunctions
With various cells of assorted compunctions
Who signed on providing their own distinct functions
Rather than sit there and scorn.
And the first social system was born.
Like kinds of cells gathered into divisions
The group at one end handled all the decisions
The rest began work on the vast architectural plans.
Messenger cells formed a chain of corpuscle
That prompted the proteins to hustle and bustle
Producing a primordial system of muscle
That flexed when the head sent commands.
A stomach-like organ came into ascension
As soon as necessity caused it’s invention
Energy needed a rapider means of renewal.
An army of enzymes got into the act
And built her a crude sort of digestive tract
A simple esophagus hooked to a sac
That turned carbohydrates to fuel.
The total assemblage consisted of flocks
Of regeneratible building blocks
Pulling together like so many soldiers at drill.
With each loyal member performing it’s role
The cells lived and died on behalf of the whole
Faithful to reaching their ultimate goal
To move through the water at will.
A vessel that moved of it’s own accord
Required a shape that was wont to go for’ard
And had to transcend the amorphous design of a germ.
At last they came up with a flexible frame
That went the direction in which she took aim
And she, with her proud maiden voyage, became
The aqua-dynamic___ worm.
She propelled this gelatinous mass through the ocean
Achieving the power of self-locomotion
By wriggling this-way-and-that in pursuit of her lot.
Her lot, none other than insouciant mates
Who’d heedlessly chaffed at controlling their fates
Now found themselves turning to carbohydrates
Deep in her fuel burning pot.
Whether they liked it or not.
Prior to food, even shelter and clothing
Without locomotion, survival is nothing
Having motility sends a clear message
Method-of-movement becomes rite-of-passage
This daring new prototype proved so efficient
That every component was nearly omniscient
Able to “ape” the entire design on it’s own.
If part of her tail-end broke off into space
Another one merely grew back in it’s place
And the end that came loose_ ended up the caboose_
For the front-end’s identical clone.
So, as she continued to metabolize
Her single-celled cousins began to get wise
Taught by a series of hair-raising, narrow escapes.
They too started forming their own “Socialisms”
And turned complex cellular organisms
And found an assortment of ways to convey
Geometrically practical shapes.
One took the form of a five-fingered star
And traipsed off in search of caviar
With tiny tube feet on the tips of each leathery ray.
Others evolved into flaccidy jellies
They moved through the water like pumping “umbrellies”
With tentacles dangling from under their bellies
That stung their unfortunate prey.
Reacting to such predatory invasions
Many developed defensive persuasions
Ranging from passive-resistance to counter-attacks.
Some produced chitenous calcium cell
And covered their vulnerable vitals with shell
They crawled on their bellies and lived very well
Transporting their homes on their backs.
Some sought protection through camouflage
Disguising a defenseless fuselage
With colors and patterns that blended right into the rocks.
Others, with greater sensational sense
Found an aggressiver means of defense
With sharp bristly scales_ or barbed pointed nails_
Protruding right out of their hocks.
That conducted electrical shocks.
In millions of years there were all shapes and sizes
Each with their own unique gimmicks and guises
Marching and flouncing, cavorting and bouncing about.
The simple physiques that they had to discover
To ferry themselves from one place to another
Provided the basic designs from which more
Variations continued to sprout.
Some felt the problems of motion were solved
And though they continued, no longer evolved
Not adding even so much as a tooth or a limb.
Meanwhile, our leader’s descendants were growing
A “rudder” for steering and “paddles” for rowing
Destined to be_ the first in the sea_
To actually learn how to___ swim.
In millions of years her corporeal form
Went so far beyond the original norm
That self-replication depended on farming a brood.
A partner of opposite gender was needed
One fertilized while the other one seeded
And from a duration_ of group incubation_
Miniature copies ensued.
The copies continued evolving, unhurried
Long after their ancestors’ bodies lay buried
Pressed between gathering layers of sand, stone, and lime.
Each new morphological link in the chain
Endeavored to master it’s salty domain
Ever improving the shape it attained
One modest step at a time.
Their segmented spines were the culmination
Of hundreds of eons of cultivation
And gave them the means to proceed with the greatest of ease.
Their streamlined physiques, so sassy and smart
Their methods of movement, state of the art
Were works of devotion_ to pure locomotion_
Advanced to it’s furthest degrees.
Deep in Devonian seas.
Long before history started to dawn
Upward Mobility had to catch on
Needing a lengthy head-start to develop
Once it got going, broke into a gallop
After epochs, give or take a millennium
The process was still in a state of momentum
But now the most daring way-farer of all was at hand.
For there on the edge of a fresh water lake
An heiress apparently started to take
Her very first steps_ from out of the depths_
And try moving on to dry land.
Most brothers and sisters were not interested
In having their tender extremities tested
And so they continued exactly as they had been spawned.
But she, never satisfied swimming in schools
Managed to break an assortment of rules
By poking around in the shallows and pools
That led to a whole world beyond.
Now walking one’s fins was an odd way to travel
The going was rough on the shore-bed of gravel
Muscle and tissue were pushed to the utmost extreme.
These efforts at first had no outward results
Aside from sore fins and a number of welts
But by being so bold_ a critical toe-hold_
Was gained in her far-reaching scheme.
The exercise caused her pituitary organ
To alter her chromosome’s programming jargon
Affecting the genes in the next generation of eggs.
The DNA molecules then rearranged
The offspring adopted the pattern and changed
Eventually trading their flippers for lobes
And lobes for a real set of legs.
This painfully slow but complete transformation
Included a new mode of oxygenation
For venturing out of the water, each day a bit more.
Exchanging their gills and their sea-going status
For actual air-breathing apparatus
A branch of the species was finally reached
Completely at home on the shore.
And so they went off to explore.
At first they were still the most primitive crawlers
Limbs splayed out sideways, no better than sprawlers
Scraping their bellies and dragging their bulks thru the swamp.
A few individual creatures believed
The ultimate walking gear had been achieved
And chose to remain_ in the marshy terrain_
Content with the clumsiest stomp.
While this group wallowed in Cambrian mud
Their cousins, with hotter, competitive blood
Were urging the species away from the mire and peat.
With each generation the stance was enhanced
The pelvis adjusted, the shoulders advanced
Until situated_ to points elevated_
Straight over their scaly-skinned feet.
A host of new environmental conditions
Brought further enhancements with future editions
That slowly refined along various structural themes.
Every advance in their methods of movement
Added things where there was need for improvement
Unused appendages shrank out of sight
While useful ones grew to extremes.
The planet played host to an agro-agora
Of fauna in search of digestible flora
Mountains and seas were now teeming with organic life.
As more and more members replaced their deceased
Our single-celled daughter’s descendants increased
Like branches and stems on the trunk of a tree
Mutations were steady and rife.
Building on matters of food predilection
And some anatomical means of protection
Each generation brought larger designs than the last.
Though something within their molecular chains
Restricted the size of their Jurassic brains
They carried them off in gargantuan frames
That have never yet been surpassed.
For sheer disproportionate mass.
Movers and shakers, what all of them do
Is carry themselves from square one to square two
And capitalize on the progress they’ve made
By constantly looking for ways to upgrade
Web-footed genotypes paddled up creeks
And scooped leafy greens with their shovel-nosed beaks
Which used in defense an opponent would want to avoid.
Bone-headed bipeds grew tubular shoots
That swept back in long hollow arcs from their snoots
They courted each other with amorous toots
And bellowed out threats when annoyed.
One super-genus preferred to make feasts
Of smaller or helpless herbivorous beasts
And as a result of the habits to which they were prone,
Their forelimbs retarded from utter disuse
Their teeth became tools for inflicting abuse
Their jaws could expand_ on a moment’s demand_
For swallowing muscle and bone.
Some were content eating grass on the ground
But others insisted on pulling things down
Extending their reach to the fruit at the tops of the trees.
Their neck-bones grew ‘roof ward’, their tail bones grew ‘floor ward’
Keeping their front ends from toppling forward
Until they were standing sufficiently nor’ ward
To grasp the high branches with ease.
While stretching themselves to incredible lengths
Others developed great weapons and strengths
Bone-plated armor of various styles was contrived.
With horns on their faces and spikes on their flanks
They marched through the forests like four-legged tanks
Fiercely defending their place in the ranks
From those that would eat them alive.
In millions of years there were so many models
Each with their own distinct shuffles and waddles
The Earth was a showcase of colorful gadgets and gear.
And somewhere amidst all this clatter and clamor
Of amphibian fashion and reptilian glamour
A creature of radically different manner
Slowly began to appear.
And quietly brought up the rear.
It’s costume severely diverged from those
Who had to spend half of their time in repose
Absorbing the warmth of the sunlight before they could stir.
This timid new-comer had hit on a way
To quickly traverse to point B from point A
With equal efficiency, night time or day
In a soft coat of something called___ fur.
Deep in the bushes and shadows beneath
It barely evolved by the skin of it’s teeth
While titans around it were plundering untold domains.
It ‘doggedly’ clung to the end of the age
When Natural History turned a new page
The sovereign saurians walked off the stage
Relinquishing reptilian reigns.
As undersea volcanic action occurred
Continents shifted, ecologies stirred
Habitats shrank and their tenants were jostled about.
With narrowing climatic temperature ranges
Behemoths no longer could weather the changes
And mammals, though small_ inherited all_
As the cold-blooded giants went out.
Many a petrified part became locked
In stratified, time-table layers of rock
That show where the old ages end and the new ones unfold.
All the way back in the tell-tale progressions
Their skeletal structures and footprint impressions
Attest to the fact complex systems evolved
From the simpler versions of old.
The dinosaur fossils beneath the Earth’s surface
Suggest they had finished fulfilling their purpose
Whatever phenomena led to their rapid decline.
For traits to live on it’s expressly inherent
There have to be offspring to mimic the parent
But the mightiest land-walkers ever to roam
Stopped reproducing their kind.
Sometimes Nature changes her mind.
Rise Of The Bipedals
Something all creatures unconsciously know
is how to instinctively get up and go
Upward mobility is nothing other
than working to keep going further and further
This fossilized history of locomotion
Is what has inspired the scientists’ notion
That Man can be traced to a creature now found in the zoo.
We ended up having the foot and the hand
Because we descend from the Cro-Magnon man
Who’s tree-climbing, primate, precursors began
From an ambitious, poly-pawed Shrew.
Protected by layers of heart-warming fat
It carried it’s own built-in thermostat
A custom unknown to a distant and earlier ilk.
It’s young were not laid, incubated, or hatched
But emerged from the parent live and attached
And drank from the mother’s mammary sac
A peculiar new substance called___ milk.
And one prehistorical day in the thicket
One raised his front paws on the trunk of a cycad
While stretching his back, perhaps, in the afternoon heat.
And just for a moment, before he was settled
He let go the tree trunk, becoming bi-pedaled
Which helped to inspire the sudden desire
To balance on only two feet.
And from the new angle he now had his eyes on
He noticed a brightly expanded horizon
And started to see the advantage now at his command.
If he could remain for a moment this way
His progeny prob’ly could do it all day
And some instinct told him_ if two legs could hold him_
He’d give his descendants a hand.
Because of this type of A-typical action
Mobility started to gain greater traction
And led to the monkeys’ more semi-bipedal designs.
With only their hind limbs supporting their booties
It freed up their fores for auxiliary duties
Like scratching their armpits and picking their cooties
And swinging themselves through the vines.
While maintaining up-righted spines.
The tiniest cellular, organic features
Determine the whole outward structure of creatures
And go into action before the cell ever divides.
The chromosomes practice a self-replication
That not only renders exact duplication
It also allows for the chance variation
That Nature routinely provides.
The genes have an ingenious way of preserving
Not only the traits that are currently serving
But those left abandoned at each evolutional bend.
And there in the cell’s library facility
Is safely recorded in faithful fidelity
It’s entire history of upward mobility
Code, from beginning to end.
The more the successful revisions completed
The greater the number of genes that are needed
To carry the complex instructions on RNA strand.
The more a repeated behavior’s involved
The likelier each organism evolved
Increasing ambition_ with every edition_
To go just as far as it can.
Whatever conversions an entity’s apt to
There must be external demands to adapt to
So as the young tree-dwelling primates were learning to climb,
Their hind-pedals turned into “pedestal stands”
Their fore-pedals turned into what we call___ hands
Those clever, prehensile_ grasping utensils_
That move several ways at a time.
As life in the canopies grew more complex
Their heads became more at the tops of their necks
Their eyes moved around to the front of their simian brows.
This gave them binocular, stereo-vision
Essential when swinging with any precision
To get where you’re going without a collision
And learning to hunt and carouse.
High up in the branches and boughs.
Now some say it’s downright preposterous
To hold that the primates fore-fathered us
Worse yet to think we’re related to Rodents by blood.
But Naturalistic Historians feel
The shrew has a more realistic appeal
Than a mythical Adam who suddenly sprang
Complete from a handful of mud.
The venerable ancients that offered this story
Were not big on science, but loved allegory
And tried to explain the Creator’s original acts.
Millenniums later, the tale is still told
Accepted by biblical fans, young and old
But under the light_ of latter-day sight_
It doesn’t stand up to the facts.
One problem confronting this time-honored fable
Is that it denies the first person a navel
Thus he could not have been “human” as we understand.
So if he existed before us in verse
And fathered our race for the better or worse
He wasn’t just like us so he wasn’t the first
If ever there was such a man.
If ever there was such a man, who was second?
And how did that person get here, do you reckon?
The answer, if any, should be scientifically sound.
Assuming, of course, that the strict limitations
Nature imposes on all her creations
Have not undergone any great alterations
Since Adam was walking around.
He may have been first to encounter Jehovah
But males can do nothing but fertilize ova
So where was the casting in which the next copy was poured?
If ever there could be a very first human
It’s ten times more likely that “he” was a___ Woman
One of those creatures_ with all the right features_
For not only praising the Lord,
But bringing new members aboard.
For you to be human in every last detail
You have to come forth from the womb of a female
Made for begetting and being begotten, we’re told.
Just why would a rational, practical Lord
Design and create the umbilical cord
Judge it and choose it, but not go to use it
On the first people out of the mold?
But whether or not the first persons on earth
Were subjected to a conventional birth
There probably never was any such woman or guy.
Where Nature in all other cases took time
And went to great lengths to perfect each design
It’s hard to believe that her crowning achievement
Was done in the “wink” of an eye.
The body of evidence clearly convinces us
To trace himself back to his ultimate genesis
Man must look further than ancient, religious folklore.
The very idea that our undertaking
Was hundreds of millions of years in the making
Does not give it less_ miraculous-ness_
It gives it, if anything, more.
For wasn’t the shrew just another extension
Of an earlier hybrid, too lowly to mention
Who stood as a bridge between species, one old and one new?
And couldn’t that archetype’s family claim
Some ‘royal’ amphibian blood in it’s veins
Whose ultimate parent was simply a cell
That merely divided in two?
Then doesn’t the cell boil down to a matter
Of smaller parts swimming around in some batter
Conducting themselves like commuters arranged on a bus?
Perhaps when we sift through molecular chains
Of fossilized cells of the earliest strains
We’re finding our own great ancestral remains
And seeing what used to be us …
Just after evolving from dust.
Think what our ancestors had to endeavor
Leaving the safety of square-one forever
Shaking a tail-feather’s only a start
Moving is basic, walking’s an art
So, five million years ago, A. Afarensis
Dared to come down from his treetop defenses
And challenge his simian kin to a steeple- “leg” -chase.
While some of them finished the race as gorillas
He sprinted across into Homo habilis
And won by a streak_ “hands down”, so to speak_
And split off to start his own race.
The methods of movement endowed him at birth
Were wholly unique among creatures of earth
In detail above and beyond any previous shape.
He crawled under bushes on hands and knees
He leapt over boulders, he shimmied up trees
What others did solely, he copied with ease
He was, after all … sort of … ape.
He even could swim (well enough to get by)
The only thing that he could not do was fly
He wasn’t the fastest afoot, but he soon understoond,
That as his physique was becoming refined
His consciousness grew and expanded his mind
Which gave him the vision_ to plan his decision_
Better than other brains could.
He had no organic accoutrements
That he could employ in his own defense
Which nature had given to most other locomo-pods.
But talons and tusks were no match for a man
Who had an opposable thumb in each hand
And changed all the rules_ by fashioning tools_
That helped him to even the odds.
For here was the only bipedal to date
Who stood so straight up in his natural state
His vertical posture was even maintained when he ran.
His hips became wider as he became straighter
His face became smaller, and sooner or later
His offspring connect us_ to Homo erectus_
The next nearest thing to a Man.
In the on-going Hominid plan.
Homo erectus is known in particular
For keeping his body the most perpendicular
His chiefest concern was to try and take care not to trip.
But there was one subsequent gimmick he knew
For getting himself from square one to square two
That no other creatures on Earth ever do
Homo erectus could___ skip.
If he was the Hominid’s acrobat
Sapiens was the aristocrat
Combining a bigger brain still with a gracefuller stride.
He soon revolutionized methods of motion
By stumbling upon the redoubtable notion
Of exploiting some other land-walker’s motion
He wanted to go for a___ ride.
He fastened some wheels to a box and of course
He harnessed a yoke to the neck of a horse
And sat at his ease while the beast took him off to his goal.
For thousands of years now our kind has been smitten
With making a fancier box to sit in
And finding new sources_ still measured in horses_
Of power to make the wheels roll.
Since science began we’ve been trying to master
The secrets of getting the wheels to go faster
And sometimes it looks like we still have a mountain to climb.
For Man is the sort of an ambulator
To care if he gets somewhere sooner or later
But in spite of his surrey he still has to hurry
And still doesn’t get there on time.
Before we pass judgment upon the futility
Of Man’s contribution to upward mobility
We have to examine just what makes his motion unique.
Aside from his outward contraption behoovements
His pure biological methods of movements
Have undergone several modern improvements
That help to evolve the physique.
As humans perfect the technique.
Start with a method of self-animation
Finding the power to change your location
Practice improving, become a crusader
Next thing you know you’re a peregrinator
Today we exhibit so many expressions
Of how to achieve the best forward progressions
History must wait to determine the long-term effects.
Why, just in one lifetime we’ve seen several kinds
Of species attempt to diverge from the lines
And challenge the norms_ of acceptable forms_
For getting one place to the next.
Before there was cable, aerobics, or malls
The Beatniks appeared to come out of the walls
And taught that conventional motion was stiff and contrived.
They walked with their duffs kind of aimed at the ground
As if they were always about to sit down
They passed into glory_ A Posteriori_
Soon after the Hippies arrived.
The Hippies believed the correct way to move
Was accomplished by one getting “into the groove”
But weren’t so concerned with the “how” as the “where it was at”.
They traveled to all sorts of end destinations
Without ever leaving their starting locations
By going so deep in their imaginations
That some of them never came back.
The marriage of T.V. and pasta alfredo
Produced the notorious Couch Potato
Whose chief motive power consists of but shifting the rear.
And then there’s the species of sunbathing man
Who, covered with lotion, lies dead in the sand
You’ll witness more action_ in plant reproduction_
Than you will in this kind in a year.
One branch we see only inhabits the surf
Traversing the waves instead of the turf
Making an odd kind of progress they call “hanging ten”.
Walking on water instead of the sand
They’ve grown an appendage on which they must stand
And balance themselves as they ride to dry land
Like many a beast with a fin.
They sometimes need pushing back in.
The Hippies today still survive in the rurals
A few live in cities and paint highway murals
But mostly their era was done with the death of Folk-Rock.
One offshoot with great economical gumption
Known to us now as “Conspicuous consumption”
Evolved into Yuppies_ whose offspring are Puppies_
Who know how to drive, but can’t walk.
Because of the habits which give them distinction
It looks like this group is soon doomed to extinction
For what they do poses no physical challenge at all.
They sit at computers all day in their cubicles
Then take to the streets in their four-wheel drive vehicles
Designed to go straight up the sides of Mount Fuji
But they won’t use the stairs at the mall.
There’s one other species that is not endearing
Who practice the method of “simply appearing”
Moochers show up at your doorstep just as you lie down.
They have no discernable motivation
For getting themselves to a different location
Beyond the request_ that you go get dressed_
And go out and drive them around.
The offshoots keep sprouting as fast as they die
Like Punkers, and Rappers, and Goths, Oh My!
But mostly our branch of the species is healthy and strong.
Our physical progress is borne on the feats
Of Acrobats, Dancers, and Super-Athletes
Who put on displays_ of the fanciest ways_
To simply keep moving along.
Remember the next time you’re feeling the drearies
You’re one of the steps in an on-going series
Of Nature’s replies to the problems she’s trying to solve.
Of all the land-walkers since time out of mind
You’re one of the best she has ever designed
So jump, skip, or hop_ but bop till you drop_
Not only will fat cells dissolve,
You’re helping the species evolve.
Manners of getting one place to another
Seem to go spiral-advancing forever
Once you start making your cells rearrange
There is no limit to how you can change
As well as explaining the rise of bipedals
The History of Upward Mobility settles
That age-old conundrum: “Did egg or the chicken come first?”
Before the egg yolk ever started to thicken
It came from a creature that wasn’t quite chicken
A new trait awoke_ and passed to the yolk_
And out of the shell Chicken burst.
But don’t be mistaken in thinking that Man
Descended from any Orangutan
You might as well say we’re a branch of the Rhinoceros.
The rustic precursor of simian brutes
Was merely the trunk from which several shoots
Grew out and diverged along separate routes
Of which one, at least, led to us.
It’s not only substance we share with the beasts
But that which inhabits the plasm, that yeast
That primary force, that intangible essence, that mind.
That spirit elusive that thickens the plot
In the mightiest Whale and the smallest Zygote
That’s there when alive and in death, is not
Whose origin can’t be divined.
For whether Amoeba or H. Sapiens
What doesn’t show up in the microscope lens
Is what motorizes the pieces transporting themselves.
Something directs them to do what they ought
When action begins, it begins with a thought
Do cells have a mind? Well I don’t see why not
They aren’t animated by Elves.
Because life itself is so hard to define
And all explanations exist in the mind
Not even Science can pin-point the who, what, or when.
When all of the fossils are found and displayed
It still won’t explain how the pieces were made
We see there is both_ Creation and Growth_
With no clear beginning or end.
In all living things, not just Men.
And if we can all be traced back to the cell
Perhaps then our souls have evolved just as well
Advancing in consciousness as we’ve expanded our scope.
My guess is, the father of our modern fleet
Was someone you really would rather not meet
He might even think you were something to eat
I’ll bet you he didn’t use soap.
One thing hasn’t changed since the dawn of creation
The foremost instinct is still self-preservation
Without which the tiniest molecule never would grow.
Although this provides us the strong inclination
To better our powers of changing location
It also involves enough imagination
To see just how far we can go.
As long as the problems of motion need solving
(Assuming the planet continues revolving)
If Humans don’t keep on evolving, I want to know why.
For Man is the only one out of the whole
To not only ponder his ultimate goal
But sometimes it feels like this passionate soul
Could just about sprout wings and fly.
Millions of years from now “Homo superior”
Will think our anatomy vastly inferior
By then they’ll have wings but will probably still put on airs.
Our primitive forms will be in the museum
And people will flock and pay money to see ’em
And there’ll be some sects_ that refuse to accept_
Our forms are precedent to theirs.
Unless we can look back and give proper credit
We’ll never know where our mobility’s headed
Maybe to fly, we first have to break through the shell.
We see what we dig and we dig what we see
When tracing the roots of the great family tree
And find that they all, eventually
Connect to that brave Mademoiselle,
Our great – grand – root mother, the Cell.
© Copyright 2008, The History Of Upward Mobility, Jas Hilsdon
The History of Upward Mobility