We Owe It All To (Or Blame) The Snakes
My friend David Pescovitz sent me a link to this news release which proposes that snakes, or more accurately the avoidance of snakes, are at the root of modern civilization:
Some primate groups less threatened by snakes show fewer signs of evolutionary pressure to evolve better vision. For example, the lemurs of Madagascar do not have any venomous snakes in their environment, and in evolutionary terms "have stayed where they are," Isbell said. In South America, monkeys arrived millions of years before venomous snakes, and show less specialization in their visual system compared with Old World monkeys and apes, which all have good vision, including color.So next time you see a snake, thank it (or curse it) for bringing about just about everything you encounter as a social creature.
Having evolved for one purpose, a good eye for color, detail and movement later became useful for other purposes, such as social interactions in groups.