Question of the day

Juli Kearns Everyday Stories 2 Comments

We’re watching the Attenborough narrated “Life of Birds” shows on Netflix. After viewing segments on birds which had lost their ability to fly, H.o.p. asked, “What about play and evolution? If they had fun flying, doesn’t that count in evolution?”

So, what is the role of play in evolutionary process?

Comments 2

  1. It’s an excellent point – play has a role in the evolutionary process if it helps the species to adapt and survive. So for birds, ‘having fun’ is probably not enough of an adaptive force for those who have lost flight. Also the purpose of play is much wider than simply to ‘have fun’. In fact, ‘having fun’ is probably the engine (motivation) which runs playing in the same way that reward is the engine of working.

    For humans, and other mammals who rear their young, play has a lot of different purposes – education, bonding, transmission of skills etc. all of which are essential for survival of the species. Humans have developed play into a rich and varied occupation way beyond any species and it could be argued that human play is one of the species’ evolutionary advantages because it is the breeding ground of creativity, innovation and accidental discoveries.

    As an occupational therapist, I’m obviously very interested in the power of play!

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