Size really matters after all

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By: Annie Sragner, Arts & Life Editor

Contrary to popular belief, size actually does matter. Humans come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and abilities that set us apart from the crowd. These variances affect not only how we treat each other, but also how we see the world.

For example, the perspective of a 7-foot tall linebacker is much different than that of someone who can only reach 5 feet on their tippy toes. They literally see the world on different levels because of a difference in height, but their bodies also work differently in terms of function. Smaller animals have faster heartbeats that deplete oxygen more quickly than larger animals with slower heartbeats. Theoretically speaking, a mouse uses more oxygen per body size than an elephant.

Body size also plays a huge social role in determining who’s in charge in the animal kingdom. For example, dogs come in a myriad of differing breeds, like the different races of humans that have a collection of similar phenotypes or appearances. In the world of dogs, larger breeds typically get more respect and this difference determines who the alpha is in that community.

Our location or habitat also helps define who we can consider to be members of these communities. Proximity determines who we can and cannot interact with. It is much easier to make friends or allies when we are in frequent contact with others who have similar lifestyles. There’s a concept called allopatric speciation, which describes how groups in the same species can be driven apart by geographic barriers, like an avalanche, mountain formation or natural disaster.

While living separately over time, these two groups become used to the different resources available in their two separate areas. This divergence can eventually create a new species.  Most animals can only reproduce with members of the same species, so our local environment essentially determines our mates.

Differences in location create differences in culture too. Why do different cultures prefer different cuisines? Why do countries that lie near an ocean typically thrive on seafood?  Why do inland countries with regular drought use livestock as their main source of protein? Because they have to. Sometimes you have to work with the hand you’re dealt, which may limit the available resources.

With this, remember there are lots of communities out there. Different locations give us different perspectives, but in the end we are all just people. Culture shock is healthy to experience and it is helps to create a well-rounded perspective.

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