In philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith’s recent book, Metazoa, on the emergence of minds in nature, he discusses the proposition that if environmental circumstances indicate larger scale as an advantage for a species, more than one evolutionary path is open to that species. Obviously, animals might progressively get bigger as natural selection plays out. And it is easy to think of examples. Less obviously, perhaps, there is another path: groups of small, distinct, modular units that possess scale through mass. It is a kind of minimalist solution to the problem of scale and, once you think about it, examples are plentiful in nature.
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