I think we can agree that examples might include a spider's ability to weave a complex web or a bee's ability to create a honeycomb filled with neat little hexagonal storage bins. Even a bird's ability to build a nest seems pretty much something we would call instinct. In fact, just about every animal on this planet exhibits it. We can tell when that happens, because it seems like it's knowledge that the animal was born with.
Now that presents a bit of a problem. We know that knowledge is learned and stored in the brain. Perhaps even as autonomic nervous system reactions in very, very simple animals. So, how did that come to be?
"Evolution," you say. Every species on Earth owes its existence, its form and function, to millions of years of survival. Mutations in the genes, tiny or large, allowed each species to get to this point simply by percolating up qualities that promoted its survival. In fact, there are genes that turn on when an organism is stressed whose whole purpose is to promote more mutations … just in case they might be needed.
Okay, then. There's one niggling question remaining. How exactly does a behavior (aka instinct) get passed on from one generation to the next? Considering that, like everything else that makes up an organism, instinct is likely the product of some organized set of nerves embedded in the brain, there is but one answer — DNA.
Now we come to the fun part. What about us? We have certainly evolved much the same as all the other animals. As a result we must have behavior(s) designed for survival that we hardly think about. What are they?
One more tidbit to consider before answering — The human genome project completed in 2000 revealed humans to have a paltry 30,000 genes. Of these, only 2% have a recognized function, mostly responsible for the proteins that make us up. What about the other 98% ? Scientists refer to this DNA as "nonsense" DNA … really? Do you really think Mother Nature would waste that much genetic material? I don't think so.
Originally posted on Mello and June 9 Sep 2016