Friday, February 18, 2011
Blood and Tears
Two things have been on my mind today; tears and blood oranges. I think i'll start with the blood oranges. I have this fascination with them, it's my aunt Cathy's fault really. My brother and I went to stay with her for a week when we were kids and every day she went out into her orchard to pick blood oranges for fresh juice. By the way, to a kid there is nothing cooler than an automatic juicer, it totally beats the automatic can opener. Lucky for me my aunt turned over all juicing duties to us for the week and I fell in love with blood oranges. I recently started going to the farmers market and was reacquainted with this amazing fruit and have since eaten one a day. But today I really stopped to consider it; what the heck makes it purple? Better yet why isn't it all purple, they should have called it the tie-dye'd orange cause it's a strange dappling of red, pink and purple. It's imperfect. In all other fruit uneven coloring is a sign that it's going bad or it's not a prime specimen. Maybe that's the most fascinating thing about them... they are perfect in their imperfection.
Onto the tears.
It occured to me today that their is no evolutionary advantage to crying. As biologist's we are taught that every trait exists because it provides some sort of evolutionary advantage that is key to the survival or our species through the passing on of favorable genes. Some traits evolve so that we may better attract a mate so that we can pass on our genes to the next generation. But crying doesn't really do either of those things, I certainly don't look very attractive when I cry, and yet humans are the only species that can cry. Studies have shown that it is easier for us to recognize sadness in others through the presence of tears... no duh. I mean did they really need to make a study for that? I think we cry because it's easier to cope with sadness when others can see it and respond to it. There's no clearer signal to others that a hug is in order than when you cry. Perhaps there is an evolutionary advantage after all, it's the ability to signal to others that we need help, that in spite of our attempts to be strong we need to lean on someone else for just a few minutes.