Wisdom teeth can potentially confer both a selective advantage or disadvantage (in societies without dental care). Late erupting molar teeth (wisdom teeth) are very useful in societies where primitive milling techniques and coarse foodstuffs rapidly wear teeth down - in effect they can extend someone's reproductive life by ensuring sufficient nutrients can be processed in that person's mid 20's-30's. That's probably why we have them.

On the flip-side, if the original teeth are not sufficiently worn, then the wisdom teeth can tend to get crowded and compact in the jaw (a common problem in societies with efficient milling and soft foods). This often leads to intense discomfort, difficulty eating and in some instances secondary infection of the area can lead to death.

Since we live in a society where food is about as soft as it gets, not having wisdom teeth is an advantage to the individual (unless they enjoy extensive/expensive dental surgery) - so good for you. If society collapses and humans revert to coarse diets, your descendants may be at a disadvantage. So whilst it's fair to say that you are better adapted (for the time being), I certainly wouldn't say more evolved.

Hmm. I agree with the Daves about the need for scientific back-up here, but in terms of conjecture (which is the starting point of research, not an acceptable scientific result) there is likely to be a genetic influence on susceptibility to allergies which could conceivably relate to the genes controlling blood group. Sounds far fetched, but it might make a research project. A place to start would be with an epidemiological study. I can eat anything and I am also B+. Unfortunately that's just a coincidence, now you need a couple of hundred other people to provide information to see if any statistically supported patterns emerge!

(posted in Evolution)

I disagree with Mike. 3.6 billion years ago Cyanobacteria altered their environment in a catastropic way, by producing huge quantities of oxygen that totally switched the redox conditions of the atmosphere. It turned out that this was good for the further development of life, but it did the cyanobacteria very little good! So human impact on their environment pales into insignificance compared with that one.

(posted in Evolution)

Superior is a very difficult concept in terms of species. If a species has surviving members or descendant species it can probably be considered superior to species that are extinct and have no descendants. That means that any organism living on the planet right now is pretty ok. If you consider the number of individuals capable of reproducing within a species, their global distribution, their generation time, how long they've already been around and the number of their near-relatives (members of subspecies for example) you can probably make a guess at the likelihood of that species continuing to exist or having descendants. Anthrenus beetles are far superior to Pandas in that case. Humans are actually pretty rubbish, even though our population is rocketing.

Don't forget that as humans we tend to think that human traits are particularly good - it's how we perceive our importance in a social context. We tend not to think that being able to fly is an important ability, since we can't do it (although wouldn't you feel a bit superior if you could?). Thinking is what we do well, along with talking and making things. These are the traits that are seen as being important to humans, so that's what we consider to be superior to other organisms as well.

(posted in Birds)

Dave is spot-on about the hummingbirds - but they fly more like insects than birds. Non-hummingbird-birds (if you get my meaning) will sometimes fly backwards relative to the ground, but forward relative to the wind. This is common in birds like kestrels and terns, who hover by flying into a wind. As a note of interest, some birds (like herons) can look like they're flying backwards when seen from certain angles - it can be quite disconcerting!