Major function change
A major function change is one in which significant new functionality is introduced. I don't want to make this definition too precise. What constitutes a major or minor change is always going to be open to interpretation, because it will depend on how many functions are being introduced and it is irrelevant to the overall argument what the precise number is. It is helpful, however, to consider major and minor change separately.
Although many theories abound as to why minor function change takes place, - many of them from biologists being based on a loose interpretation of Darwinian theory that the environment was the driver, - there are few theories about why major function change should take place.
I suspect mine may be the first.
We should not assume that major functional change has only taken place in the current era of life. Nor should we assume that it only happens to things that are ‘big’.
If we take just bacteria and microbes as an example, they perform a huge number of functions, so their creation was an act of major function invention. They are both functionally rich and also extremely useful as agents of change and stabilisers of the planet. From a strategic point of view one could argue that they are more functionally useful than us. For example they:
- process waste and water and make it usable again
- keep soils productive
- synthesise vitamins in our gut and convert what we eat into sugars and polysaccharides
- attack alien microbes
- take nitrogen from the air and convert it into nucleotides and amino acids
- keep the atmosphere stable and supply oxygen
- help in the formation of minerals such as gas and oil
We will also see that they are exceptionally important as agents of change in extinction and creation events. As such even if we vanish from the face of the earth it is highly likely viruses, bacteria, microbes and other small organisms will still be around.