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toastywombel

A question about one's ears and nose.

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So I am aware that the human nose and ears grow a whole life, so when one is older by consequence, one has a larger nose and ears.

 

I was wondering if this might be natures way of some what compensating for hearing loss and lower lung functions that occur often in old age.

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From an evolutionary standpoint, by the time these effects become noticeable, the individual is usually out of the gene pool. We're basically designed (by evolution) to die somewhere in our 30's to very early 40's. This is still the case in some 'Third World' countries.

 

That age frame gives us time to breed and raise some progeny, then exit stage left so we don't compete with our own offspring for limited resources.

 

Until relatively recently, with the advent of medicines, germ theory and dentistry, most people did just that.

 

The very phrase 'nature's way of compensating' is a little anthropomorphic. There is no evidence that 'nature' gives a flip whether entire species are wiped out, let alone the quality of life for aging individuals, past their breeding age.

 

Bill Wolfe

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From an evolutionary standpoint, by the time these effects become noticeable, the individual is usually out of the gene pool. We're basically designed (by evolution) to die somewhere in our 30's to very early 40's. This is still the case in some 'Third World' countries.

 

That age frame gives us time to breed and raise some progeny, then exit stage left so we don't compete with our own offspring for limited resources.

 

Until relatively recently, with the advent of medicines, germ theory and dentistry, most people did just that.

 

The very phrase 'nature's way of compensating' is a little anthropomorphic. There is no evidence that 'nature' gives a flip whether entire species are wiped out, let alone the quality of life for aging individuals, past their breeding age.

 

Bill Wolfe

 

It is nice you made an observation that my sentence was anthropomorphic. The point was that if the above was a possible reason why people's noses and ears grow bigger. Maybe through some old genetic trait that has been passed through species to species, and maybe is still around. I think you can get the gist of what I am saying without picking apart the semantics of my question.

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I think you can get the gist of what I am saying without picking apart the semantics of my question.

 

If questioning the precept that 'nature' ever compensates for anything offended you, I apologize, truly.

 

But semantics means The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form. And I really don't get the gist of what you were saying. Because I don't think 'Nature' does anything of the kind.

 

It's a broad reference. If a planet killer asteroid wipes-out all life on this planet as you read this, that would be 'Nature', to me.

 

I opined that the trait you're discussing is probably evolutionarily neutral, at best. It's part of the answer to your question, anyway.

 

No harm intended.

 

Bill Wolfe

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I was wondering if this might be natures way of some what compensating for hearing loss and lower lung functions that occur often in old age.

 

This would be a viable theory, if simply making noses and ears larger helped improve the acuity of the respective senses. Is this the case? Pretty clearly not.

 

As a side note, the eyes certainly don't grow, and sight deteriorates just as much as hearing tends to in old age, generally.


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From an evolutionary standpoint, by the time these effects become noticeable, the individual is usually out of the gene pool. We're basically designed (by evolution) to die somewhere in our 30's to very early 40's. This is still the case in some 'Third World' countries.

 

The first link with which you referenced your statement blatantly contradicts you. It is actually a common misconception that we were "meant" to die out in our 30s and 40s. Actual text below:

 

Sometimes, mainly in the past, life expectancy increased during the years of childhood, as the individual survived the high mortality rates then associated with childhood. A pre-20th century individual who lived past the teenage years could expect to live to an age comparable to the life expectancy of today.

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The first link with which you referenced your statement blatantly contradicts you. It is actually a common misconception that we were "meant" to die out in our 30s and 40s. Actual text below:

 

I'm a little uncomfortable with the word 'meant.' It implies some type of plan or direction. Evolve is used as a verb, but it isn't really any kind of action.

 

Since for most of human and protohuman history, we were nomadic hunter-gatherers, I doubt very seriously that any significant portion of the population survived as long as we do, today. How could they possibly, when any infection or broken bone would either kill you, or slow your whole group down?

 

I included that link mostly for the table, which listed life expectancy by era, starting with the upper paleolithic. I think the kicker in that one statement you quoted is 'Sometimes.' The gist of the article still supports the fact that more of us are living longer due to the benefits of civilization and technology.

 

Bill Wolfe

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If it were the case that larger noses and ears meant for better sense of smell and hearing*, then a better question would be, "why do young people have such small noses and ears?" Surely they could benefit as well.

 

*(Not that it is the case.)

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evolution can't really act on individuals who are no longer reproducing. If loosening of connective tissues and widening of certain cavities causes ear and nose enlargement, evolution wouldn't select against this, because those genes would have already been passed on.

 

(ignoring kin selection, for the time being)

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