Monday, June 18, 2012

Are We Wearing Naked Genes?

MEDIA WERE all abuzz with stories this week about Nik Wallenda and his plan to cross over Niagara Falls on a high wire.  Wallenda is a seventh generation descendent of the renowned family of aerialists and grandson of Karl Wallenda---who formed the walking human pyramid act that claimed the lives of four family members that fell to their deaths when the pyramid collapsed in 1962. 


Nik says that the will to perform death defying feats runs “in his blood,” and science would appear to agree.  Biologists quoted in the story linked above note that certain humans like Nik carry a thrill-seeking gene in their DNA.


That got the Bare Platypus wondering if there’s a genetic predisposition to enjoy being naked.  We already know that some humans find sun tanning genuinely addictive.  We know some with autism bear a "genetic-like" predisposition to dislike having any clothes touch their bodies.  And we recognize that certain cultures (especially Northern Europeans like Germans, French, and Scandinavians) embrace nudity more often than others.


Will biologists someday announce that folks like the Bare Platypus inherited naked genes that pre-dispose us to favor our birthday suits?  That’s an idea as lofty as the clouds Nik Wallenda passes through while traipsing his tightrope.