Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views
Evolution NEWS

The "Not Tonight Dear Because I've Got an Impacted Third Molar" Theory of Natural Selection


From an interview in the Telegraph with Professor Alan Mann of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science by science journalist Nick Collins:

[Collins] While the process of natural selection allowed humans to become much more advanced than other primates, it is also to blame for many of the maladies we suffer from today... 

Impacted wisdom teeth can be blamed on our development of large brains, which caused the shape of our skulls to change and shortened our mouths leaving no room for a third molar, Prof Alan Mann [said]. 

Many people now carry genetic mutations which mean they no longer develop wisdom teeth, with 25 per cent of people now lacking at least one third molar. 

Although lacking wisdom teeth does not provide a survival advantage in the modern world, Prof Mann suggested that the trait may one day die out because people with aching jaws might be marginally less likely to have children. 

He said: "One plausible scenario might be as follows: one evening, a partner in a relationship suggests a bout of reproduction. 

"The other partner, plagued by an impacted third molar which is painful enough to be distracting, says: 'not tonight dear, my jaw is killing me.' 

"The limiting reproductive behaviour limits the number of offspring and thus, over generations, people who do not have this particular distraction will have a slightly greater number of children."

Another plausible scenario is that Darwinism is witless pseudoscience too bizarre even to parody effectively. It is a parody of itself.

This "not tonight dear because I've got an impacted third molar" theory of natural selection is promulgated not by some late-night comedian or some crank on psych medications, but by a Princeton professor emeritus and leading physical anthropologist, under the imprimatur of solemn science. 

Any reputable science journalist would have been so convulsed with laughter that he couldn't have finished conducting the interview.

Yet this swill is what passes for evolutionary biology in the 21st century.

Image credit: Defence Images/Flickr.