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Rebel without a cause!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Neoteny

Its a term that I came across recently in a conversation. It means the tendency of delayed maturity in the offspring of species and is an evolutionary tool which shapes the way a species evolves. The offsprings might perceive an evolutionary advantage in retaining certain characteristics of their adolescence for a longer time and this behavior is selected and propagated down the species.
In humans, this has been used to explain the absence of body hair resembling young primates. And significantly, female characteristics are also explained as a neoteny for the female features resemble that of children.
Pretty cool thoughts but what struck me was that in the modern world, especially here in US, there is also a selection for neoteny in behavior especially vis-a-vis the old world. There seems to be a predominance of playful behavior which resembles the way children behave. While in the old world, people tend to be more respected when they are serious and playfulness and fooling around is looked down upon.
But ofcourse, as they say all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. So play on and select this behavior and I am being dead serious here.

4 comments:

Parag said...

hmm... interesting topic actually; and interesting analogy or may I say extension from a totally biologically physical process to a phsychological process (america being 'neotenized').
Society being more open and free here means even older people do what only younger people in other countries would do...
I simple example was when I went for ballroom dancing last weekend, I could see many many older people learning from scratch too!

So in nutshell I could conclude, that most species would tend to retain the way they are and not change, unless forced by the external environments as we see both biologically as well as in society... wat say?

Parag said...

Newton's 1st law... ehh??... :D

Anshuman said...

hmm.. I always thought the best thing was to be yourself . Although I do know that more often than not, people buckle under societal and peer pressure.. but the stubborn ones I guess manage to be yourself :-D

Sreekumar said...

@ Parag : Yeah, since in the modern world we have to keep on learning something new, maybe we remain children always

@ Anshuman : It certainly is best to be yourself, but then even you change with time.