Bringing the Text to Life
Dear Tom and Ray ... Is there a part in a car that has not evolved over time but continues to exist even though we don't need it anymore? -Signed, Linda.
Tom: Great question, Linda! The "part" that comes to mind is the parking lights.
Ray: Right. In the old, old days, when my brother still had a few brain cells left, cars were not that common. So when you parked yours at the side of the road, you left your "parking lights" on. That way, when Ichabod Crane came whizzing by in his buggy he wouldn't smash into you.
Tom: But now that we all expect cars to be parked on every street, and we have reflectors to make them more visible, parking lights are hardly necessary (Click & Clack, "Auto Evolution," The Washington Post, May 8, 1998).
Tom and Ray, the wisecracking "Car Talk" mechanics, make a good point about the lack of evolution in cars - all vehicles still have parking lights, although the lights are practically useless. They are a "vestigial trait," a remnant of an earlier model...