As the Crow Flies

Scientists abhor anthropomorphism. I think it’s because as a group, they have a low gagging point. They fear the slippery slope of sappiness.

On the other hand, it would be wrong to deny the fact that we share much with other animals and even plants. We all need our space. We need to breathe and eat, procreate and die. Anyone who has owned a dog, for example, knows that dogs have feelings like we do. They can laugh and cry, feel shame, be exuberant.

It should thus come as no surprise that scientists at UC Santa Cruz recently reported that humans share significant portions of our DNA with animals. The scientists had matched nearly 500 animal DNA segments to ours. Thus, it’s not anthropomorphic to acknowledge what we have in common with other life forms with whom we share the planet. It’s just common sense.

Take fun, for example. While I would be the first to admit that potato bugs seem to have no liking for wild parties, college kids do. Therefore, at some point in the evolutionary timescale, the ability to have fun evolved. The question is: when?

The answer, in my opinion, is clearly: when crows evolved.

American Crow

I’ve been watching the American Crows flying around lately in the gusty winds we’ve been experiencing at the Fill. Unlike most birds – who seem to prefer hunkering down on a sturdy limb or under a dense bush to wait out the storm – crows seem to love the wild wind. They leap into the air like hang gliders jumping off Mount Si, spread out their wings, and let their long black feather-fingers caress the air currents as the wind takes them where it will.

Five of them were at it over the greenhouse field this morning, when without warning, one of them broke formation and careened straight down. I thought it was going to crash into the greenhouse superstructure, like a WW II kamikaze aiming for the nearest aircraft carrier, but no. It was just diving for the heck of it. Having fun.

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