Viruses. As a molecular biologist, viruses fascinated me to no end. So tiny and so simple. Often with such narrow, narrow habitats that you wonder how they can flourish while orangutans, who can live anywhere in the whole damn jungle are dying. As a parent, viruses piss. me. off.
Case in point, my kids have the croup. It’s my daughter’s first ever time having croup and it’s the worst croup we’ve ever seen in our house. Almost ER visit level of croup. Lady Fair has a beautiful, complex genome. Her tens of thousands of genes make everything from intestines to eyelashes. Gorgeous eyelashes, if I say it myself. Her genes let her walk, talk and think. Imagine that, we think because of the structures our genes build. Someday her genes will let her build a whole different person right in her body.
And then she got croup and it kicked her ass.
A teeny tiny virus. It has like six genes, did you know that? It has a gene (or two) to make the tools to copy itself. Basically a microscopic photocopier. No, not even a photocopier, more like carbon paper! Then it’s got a couple of genes to sew itself a coat with. Poor virus doesn’t want to get cold, don’t you know. And maybe, maybe it’s got a gene or two to help it get around in the world. That’s it.
Then let’s consider the habitat. Croup takes up residence in the upper airways of the itty-bittyest people on the planet. Lady Fair’s whole neck is about 26cm in circumference and this little jerk of a virus has not only found its way in there, it has also found her even smaller larynx. Think about that. And think about those orangutans with all their own beautiful genome and all of that jungle. And really, it’s the virus who wins this game?
Pretty much proof of Darwinian evolution. If there were a supreme being up there (wherever ‘there’ is) putting all of this together, that being would have done a much better design job. Then again, maybe the being is there, and he’s a giant jerky virus in the sky.