Contemporary illustrations of Darwin's commentary.

Contemporary illustration of Darwin's commentary.

That’s a question to ponder as naturalist Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday draws near on Feb. 12. And it was raised at a January MIT Darwin Bicentennial Symposium that took a multi-disciplinary sniff at Darwin’s theories on natural selection. The goal? A better understanding of how the Earth will be shaped in the future by the organisms of today.

Another juicy question: “If humans evolved from primates, why aren’t we continuing to evolve?” (We aren’t???) One researcher stuck up for the collective us, however, citing the ability to digest cow’s milk, developed in a speedy 10,000 years with the domestication of cattle. Consuming a ready protein source and weaning babies earlier did confer an evolutionary advantage.

So have a sip of milk and digest other observations about Darwin’s impact on the bicentennial site and in a cluster of New York Times articles.