[extropy-chat] evolution and bee tracheas

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 8 01:13:32 UTC 2006

> > bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Anders
> Sandberg

> > We may not have needed much for most of evolution
> and are now trapped in a
> > bad solution like the insect trachea...

Actually insect tracheas are not that bad of a
solution, speaking in an evolutionary sense. Consider
the following sobering statistic from

"Ants are arguably the greatest success story in the
history of terrestrial metazoa. On average, ants
monopolize 15-20% of the terrestrial animal biomass,
and in tropical regions where ants are especially
abundant, they monopolize 25% or more."

Albeit insect tracheas evolved to deal with the high
oxygen tension resulting from the initial colonization
of plants on land during the carboniferous era, it is
probably fortunate for us humans that the oxygen
tension now does not support dragonflies with 2 foot
wingspans and other giant insects.
Considering that ants invented agriculture (fungus
farms) and animal husbandry (aphid dairies) long
before the first protohumans wandered the earth, I am
rather thankful that insects didn't have anything
better than diffusion operated tracheas or they might
have been the ones debating the singularity these days
instead of us. 

As it is, I doubt that any apocalypse - technological,
asteroidal, or otherwise would put so much as a dent
in the insect supremacy. Should self-replicating
misanthropic AIs ever manage to knock us off our
pedestal, I am rather confident that there will still
be cockroaches scurrying around under the Terminator's
metallic feet.

--- spike <spike66 at comcast.net> wrote:
> Interesting comment.  I am trying to establish some
> bee colonies in Oregon.
> The beekeepers there are fighting an infestation of
> mites that get into the
> bee's trachea.  The mites do not actually slay the
> bee, but rather control
> their numbers while living on the bee's blood.  This
> makes her sick and
> unable to work as hard as she would otherwise.  This
> is a double tragedy for
> a bee, for she then loses her identity in a sense,
> like a slow cheetah or a
> shark with a finicky appetite.
> http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/PDFs/Tracheal.pdf
> The real tragedy is that there are no bugs that get
> inside mosquitoes and
> devour those wretched beasts from the inside.  I
> propose we design a bug or
> nanobot that devours only mosquito proboscises.  The
> result would be
> billions of mosquitoes buzzing harmlessly about with
> big stupid
> proboscisless looks on their faces.

Well there are people working on a vaccine against
mosquitos by immunizing the subject with the proteins
in a mosquito's gut for example. The idea being that
when the mosquito bit somebody, the person's
antibodies and complement cascade would attack the
mosquito from the inside, perforating the intestinal
lining of the mosquito. Although I like the irony of a
mosquito being digested by its ill-gotten meal, I
haven't heard about any successful vaccines yet. The
people trying to come up with a vaccine against ticks
seem to be having more success perhaps due to the
longer feeding time of the tick relative to a


Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school... It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it... That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does." - Richard Feynman on QM

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