THE ELEGANT EXPLANATIONEdge.org asked 191 famous thinkers "What is Your Favorite Deep, Elegant, or Beautiful Explanation?” Daniel Dennett's choice: ...

[ Sun. Jan. 22. 2012 ]

I was told some years ago that the reason why some species of sea turtles migrate all the way across the South Atlantic to lay their eggs on the east coast of South America after mating on the west coast of Africa is that when the behavior started, Gondwanaland was just beginning to break apart (that would be between 130 and 110 million years ago), and these turtles were just swimming across the narrow strait to lay their eggs. Each year the swim was a little longer—maybe an inch or so—but who could notice that? Eventually they were crossing the ocean to lay their eggs, having no idea, of course, why they would do such an extravagant thing.