A team at the University of Oregon has found a single mutation that may explain the evolution from single-celled to multi-cellular life. From the reddit ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5) comment:
In order to grow your lungs and other important organs in your body, cells have little rods that they point at other cells which then fit together in order to create structure, otherwise known as “Tissue”. This function is primarily controlled by a process that fits cells together like puzzle pieces using proteins on the exterior of cells that act as the receivers for the rods to fit into. We suspected that cells didn’t always have these receivers, (or at least, the proteins on the surface as cells didn’t function as receivers) and through our research, we were able to simulate this evolution that created these receiver proteins and thus allowed cells to form into tissues. We also were able to demonstrate that its a very simple process that likely could have happened naturally to ancient cells, creating the first tissues that are now essential to all complex life.
It’s an interesting piece of foresnic biology. It’s also a reminder that sometimes
cooperation >> competition
And this is where I get up on the soapbox, because this message has unfortunately been the antithesis of the last 35 years of US politics. Competition has been the answer to everything and anything: Healthcare? Needs more competition. Banking? Needs more competition. Education? Needs more competition.
If you step back and think about it, it’s ridiculous. “All of the complexity and problems in the universe are always best solved by competition! It’s a universal truth!” Except that multi-cellular life is a pretty good counter-example. It’s the kind of thinking that you get from a single-semester of economics. You gloss over the conditions required for a perfect market. You gloss over the conditions required to attain Pareto optimality, conditions not attained in even the simplest of games… most notably, the Prisoners Dilemma.
Of course, simple ideas are more attractive than doing the hard work of understanding a complicated reality. That explains some of Trump’s success. Analysis shows that he speaks at a 4th-grade level. That’s why I love obvious counter-examples like multi-cellular life or Medicare, Social Security, or the fire department. They are all examples that highlight the fact that we live in a mixed economic reality; part cooperation, part competition. It’s time to suck it up America. Multi-cellular life is complicated. Vote Bernie 2016.