If only we were a little dumber

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the ARHGAP11B  gene. Thinking about ARHGAP11B  a lot.

     No other creature with the exception of humans has the ARHGAP11B gene. I wish it weren’t so. But here we are.

    About 5 million years ago,  previous versions of this monstrosity  – the ARHGAP11B  gene – appeared in the brains of pre-humans. It came at a time when chimpanzees and humans diverged in that tree of life that you’ve seen before and understood. 

   And deeply and for good reason because you have the ARHGAP11B  gene.

   Evolution did its thing. Mutations occurred as mutations always do. The human-specific version of the ARHGAP11B gene – the one we have today – developed in our human ancestors between 1.5 million and 500,000 years ago.

   As a result, our neocortex expanded. Humans developed higher cognitive functions such as language and planning.

    How do we know this? In 2020, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfort, Germany, introduced this gene into the embryos of marmoset monkeys. (Technical  explanation alert) They used a virus carrier, and a protein marker that would allow the researchers to see where that gene was expressed. 

   Sure enough,  after 101 days, scientists saw that the developing brains of these marmoset embryos were larger. Furthermore,  these developing brains had more folds in the brain tissue which closely resembled the folds of the human brain.

   This experiment appears to be the smoking gun why humans have such large brains, jammed packed with neurons, axons and synapses enabling us to ultimately fly to the moon. 

   MoorandMore readers! Prepare yourselves for a big shockeroo! This time I’m getting to my point quickly. And here it comes.

    After many months ruminating over ARHGAP11B,  I’ve reached this conclusion: This mutated gene is the worst thing that has ever happened to planet Earth, all the creatures living on it, including we humans too.

   We humans are now smart and the impact on Earth has been devastating.

    For the last 300,000 years since Homo sapiens evolved into our present form we have run roughshod on our planet, caused our own mass deaths in Homo sapiens wars, destroyed other creatures to the point extinction (think dodo bird), multiplied our numbers exponentially until we will eventually surpass the Earth’s capacity to hold us. And enabled us to build the atomic bomb. 

   Humans are clearly overrunning our planet with our numbers. We are changing our atmosphere to the point where we are slowly ruining life for ourselves and for other creatures. But some dodos deny it. 

  We are killing off innocent species to the point where we read about a whole slew of extinction events. We hear that the numbers of many species are going down at the hand of man, perhaps irreversibly so. We are currently asking ourselves if Vladimir Putin will ultimately launch Russia’s nuclear arsenal. (Killing means nothing to him, as you know). 

 Did you read the news lately that humans nearly went extinct 900,000 years ago? I can envision all the creatures on Planet Earth chanting in unison at that time  “Die. Die. Die.” Imagine their disappointment when our numbers started rebounding 117,000 years ago, according to a recent paper published in Science.

 I could go on.

  Humans! What are we good for? Absolutely nothing. Good God, y’all. Say it again. Listen to me. (Edwin Starr) 

  Of course I’m kidding.

  Admission alert.  My exercise in doom and gloom lately is nothing but a counterweight to all the HWSs* (see below)  on Moorandmore.net. 

  You see, Billy and I have this thing going where we each enjoy sniping at each other – and have been for years and years. Just a little friendly spat – like brothers. He ain’t heavy. (The Hollies.) It’s an obligatory “Can you top this?” in jabs when we see each other.

   But my little foray into questioning the usefulness of humankind in toto (not the dog) does beg this intriguing question: What if the mutation(s) of our ARHGAP11B  gene never occurred a half a million years ago? Think about it.

   Just as I was writing this essay I saw a promo on PBS for its series on the human brain: “Your Brain. Who is In Control?” Check it out at:


   Lately, I’ve been thinking of my brain. Thinking about it a lot.

  Something happened just the other day that made me turn my eyes inward –  180 degrees. 

   Nothing major mind you. But it was weird. Suddenly, and without warning, I thought of a song that was penned long before I was born, ie, “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.”

  What the H was that all about? 

  Then a week later, I thought about the silent screen actress Zasu Pitts, who I last saw chatting with Johnny Carson over 60 years ago. Crazy, man.

   Maybe I wasn’t in control when those two neurons – long thought dead – suddenly came to life.

     Going deeper. What if our enlarged brain capacity is actually a mass death sentence in the final analysis?

   Could we humans have gotten along just fine without the ARHGAP11B gene?

  I think so.

  We’ve all been reading news stories about other species expressing the emotion of gratitude when humans intervened to save them from certain death. I’m talking about whales “thanking” deep sea divers who cut off fishing nets wrapped around their huge bodies. Deer returning to their human rescuers expressing love after being freed from fencing. Etc.    

   Puppies, kittens, opossums, platypuses – all expressing humanlike emotions, much to our surprise and amazement.

  What if we simply went about our lives wandering Planet Earth just like them?

  No more hate, as Dick Sullivan described in June. No more hubris, lack of empathy, autocrats, greed, social media, self centeredness as Scott Durham pointed out in the last edition of Moorandmore.net.

  I’ll add to Mr. Durham’s list. No more worry about material things. No more fear, trepidation, angst, dread, horror. 

   Not to fear. We humans would still evolve and ultimately rise to the apex of all living species on Earth. Which would be cool. 

     Wouldn’t it be nice if we were dumber? In the kind of world where we’d belong?

     Don’t you think it would be that much better, if we could lay down on the savannah grass, growl “goodnight” and sleep together. 

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up in the morning when the day is new? 

   Happy times together we’d be spending, to think that every grunt or belch was never-ending.

   Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?

p.s. HWS. Heart Warming Stories