Aldo Matteucci   02 Mar 2013   Looking Sideways

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(a true fairy tale)

There was strife among the Pakicetus[1] – 50 million years ago or so. The older generation dreaded a future about to destroy the very population of Pakicetus and its values. Relativism was sundering cherished traditions. Some liked living on land

215 (1)

Others clearly preferred the water

215 (2)

(These images reflect ex post bias of today’s artists)

A conference was called to discuss the future of the species. Everyone attended. “We know we must change”, called out Pakicetus Major, the Prime Minister, “It’s the right moment to consider the future. Let us decide on a strategy and a plan. We may stay true to our hailed origins and continue to roam the land. Alternatively, let’s embark on a vision of change at sea. Or take my way – the third way; details to follow.” In any case – I’ll lead.” Roaring applause (do Pakiceti roar? I have to check).

The Main Hall filled with rhetoric. Rivulets spilled into the working groups established to explore the benefits and costs of the alternatives. Reams of records were assembled – fortunately lost in the shallows of the Thetis Sea which has turned into a windswept desert in Pakistan.

We don’t know what master plan the species drew up for itself, or whether then conference broke up in confusion, with the agreement to meet again in some distant future.

This is what happened in the end


(Carl ZIMMER (1998): :At the water’s edge. Macroevolution and the transformation of life. Free Press, New York.


Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

(John LENNON – Phantasy, 1980)


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