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Lycanthropy

2,550 bytes removed, 12:29, 22 April 2007
/* Evolutionary Perspective */ deleted nonsense
In the book of the prophet Daniel, chapter 5 we can read a possible instance of actual lycanthropy:
<sup>18</sup>O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:<sup>19</sup>And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.<sup>20</sup>But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:<sup>21</sup>And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
 
==Evolutionary Perspective==
From an Evolutionary perspective, it is of course nonsense to suggest that a human could turn into a wolf or vice versa; such a creature would have to have descended from both humans and wolves.
 
Instead, it's clearly a case of parallel evolution (akin to dolphins and some sharks having similar shapes); a were-wolf doesn't actually turn into a ''wolf''; it merely turns into a ''wolf-like form''. This can be compared with the transformation of a tadpole into a frog or a caterpillar into a moth. The only distinguishing characteristics of lycanthropy are
* the reversibility of the transformation
* the speed of the transformation
* the supposed link in some cases to full moons.
 
We can deal with these individually.
 
A non-reversible lycanthropic transformation would be strongly selected against for at least one obvious reason: the difficulty of child-rearing. Unlike true wolves, whose pups are born able to walk and quickly reach a level of maturity necessary to feed themselves, human/lycanthropic children/pups share the standard human multi-year maturation process. A lycanthropic human stuck in wolf-like form is severely restricted in child-rearing ability; for instance, such simple acts as nursing, burping and changing a diaper are beyond the capability of the paw-formed hand. More importantly, the wold-form father cannot teach his daughters about the benefits of abstinence, and generally is not granted admittance to [[purity prom]]s. Thus, only reversible lycanthropy is selected for.
 
Second, speed of transformation: since the selection benefits of human lycanthropy revolve primarily around replacing the standard human weakness in the face of attack with the benefits of protective fur, built-in weapons, speed and aggression, the change must happen fast enough to be a benefit in the face of immediate danger. Thus, slow transformation is selected against.
 
The full moon link is the easiest of all to deal with, since it's entirely a case of false correlation. Actually it's an artifact of semi-modern life. Remember that the transformation is selected for in case of danger; it turns out that the hormones which control this are also triggered by other forms of stress. In modern life, with monthly rents and mortgage payments, there's a monthly stress cycle. This translates into a monthly involuntary transformation cycle. <ref>The small discrepancy between the average 30.4-day month and the 28.5-day lunar cycle is simply experimental roundoff error and can be ignored.</ref>
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