Monday, August 23, 2010

What Makes Them Different???

Did you know that the DNA of a gorilla and a human are about 98% identical?  The 2% that is different obviously is important. Gorillas and humans evolved from the same ancestors. There are actually two major components of their bodies that allowed us to climb different branches of the evolutionary tree.

The one on the left is obviously the gorilla. Gorillas are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants. They can eat up to 60 pounds of fibrous vegetation a day. As you can see, their gut is quite large. Almost 3 times larger than a human gut. The gut isn't big because it is fat. It is big because much more internal plumbing is required to digest all that vegetation. Because they get virtually no fat in their diet, they have a unique digestive system that can convert vegetation to fatty acids. This extra processing requires a lot of room and thus adds to the overall greater mass of their gut in comparison to a human.

The picture on the right is of a San Bushmen. They are a primitive tribe that live today alongside gorillas in Africa. Obviously they are humans just like you and me. Theirs and our diet is described as omnivore, meaning we eat plants and animals. The brain of a human is about twice as big as as a gorilla's. The size of our brains give us more intelligence than a gorilla and thus allowed us to evolve to what we are instead of what they are.

Remember, we evolved from the same ancestors.  Why did our brains get bigger while theirs stayed small? It is common knowledge that meats are more nutrient dense than plants. Our brains are 60% fat and they require amino acids and fatty acids that are plentiful in various animal sources. As our brains got bigger, our guts got smaller and we required meat that could more efficiently provide nutrients to our large brains.  Plants were still eaten but in lower volume and lower variety due to our smaller guts.

Can we still eat plants? Yes, they still provide some important micronutrients but we became the top dog on the planet because of our intelligence and that only happened when we starting eating meat. Although no one should gorge themselves on meat at every meal, it is an important part of our diet. Meats have high amounts of protein, fats, and hundreds of essential micronutrients. Unfortunately, the low fat diet that is advocated today is also low in meat. If we continue to eat less and less meat and more and more plants ie. "healthy" grains and vegetable oils, our guts are gonna get bigger and our brains are gonna get smaller. Kinda like this:


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