The Sloths Are Never Wrong

In terms of what planet Earth has to offer, the human race isn’t exactly the star attraction. We aren’t the biggest (blue whales), the fastest (cheetahs), or even the laziest (sloths. But Americans are a close second.) And to top it all off, we are literally killing and destroying our planet.

So, what are humans good at? What have we evolved from monkeys and small amoeba to do? What does evolution have in store for us? Like, if Darwin wanted to win an award for best example of evolution, how would he market us? What would his tri-fold poster look like at the science fair?

Well, let’s see. We’re definitely good at war. We like to fight and dominate and oh yeah, kill. (No wonder “alien” races from outer space stay away!) But so do monkeys. So, that’s not exclusive to us. And we can speak. We have hundreds of thousands of dialects and even more slang words. But any dog can recognize a command in our native tongue, even if it’s just because our voices get a wee bit higher when we speak to them. Okay, then. Okay… a talent, a talent, a talent…well, we invented naps, didn’t we? Nope, it was the sloths again. Rats! (Yup, they even helped us to understand modern medicine with that whole plague fiasco. We really have nothing.)

But the thing is, we do. Humans are great at…adapting. And sure, we can’t change colors, shed our skin, or change our sex automatically (we’re still having a lot of trouble with that one, even though approximately half the animal population can do it, and 100% of the animal population is fine with the fact that the other half are able to do it), but we are good at keeping on.

We can get beat down and get right back up. We can have a complete meltdown that we don’t talk about ever again, but somehow, we are still whole at the end of the day. Somehow, we’re the only animal that experiences intense emotional trauma that we inflict on ourselves. And truly, we’ve made it through some of the worst phyiscal tragedies known to this planet. (Granted, we also brought those on ourselves, but you get it.)

So, don’t worry about the next time that you mess up or you didn’t get what you wanted. Because you are absolutely going to be fine. Actually, you were built for it. You evolved to overcome it all. And if that knowledge still doesn’t work for you? Take a nap. The sloths are never wrong.

The Evolutionary Need for Blushing

The short and long of this post? There isn’t an evolutionary need for blushing. That’s right. Scientists have no idea why it would be smart for your body to tell your enemies that you are a little embarrassed or concerned about your well-being by letting your blood vessels bloom on your skin in a rather showy manner.

But it happens anyway as part of our “flight or fight” response. Apparently, it also has some effect on our social relationships. When people see our red faces, they can tell that we are sorry for whatever faux pas we have committed, and they deem us trustworthy as a result. I’ve even heard that pink cheeks indicate good health and robustness of life, which can be helpful in attracting a mate.

Except when you blush over everything. Then everyone just thinks you have a problem, not that you are a potential friend. Much, much, much to my chagrin, I find myself feeling a bit flushed and warm over the most ridiculous situations. I get red just answering the question “How are you doing today?” or drinking a beer (which I blame on my Irish heritage that also allows my face to get red in other ways, like when I get sunburned on an overcast day).

So, what is with my bodily betrayal? Shy of getting surgery to stop my blushing (and have facial sweating as a side effect for the rest of my life), I have no way to stem the obviously embarrassing tides. The reaction is completely involuntary.

I know, I know. In terms of evolutionary short sticks, blushing isn’t the worst of them. You could be the white moth who is living during the Industrial Revolution when all of the trees turn black with soot from the greed of machines. But isn’t it bad enough that I don’t own a poker face? Not only can people read exactly what I’m thinking, they can also tell how I feel about it. Which is bright red embarrassment. Constantly.

Yet, maybe that’s the rub. Maybe blushing is the closest we can get to reading people’s minds and knowing their true feelings. As humans, we’re terribly susceptible to covering up our emotions or, put simply, lying. And sure, we express our emotions, but it’s hard to tell how someone really, truly feels. Tears can be false in that we can make ourselves cry without stimulus or, conversely, when we’re happy. Smiles can also be painted on, and more likely than not, we don’t naturally wear them. Blushing, as I mentioned, is unable to be controlled. You are embarrassed, and your body is exactly aligned with your emotions.

And so, maybe we all need to be genuinely embarrassed sometimes. Not because it feels good to have a hot flash, but because in a world that it is superficial, blushing reveals our deeper selves (specifically our cardiovascular system).