You knew you shared at least 95% of your genes with a chimpanzee, but did you know you share 60% of them with a banana?
The dominant neo-Darwinist position, most aggressively articulated by Dawkins and Dennett, is all too familiar, but the very next stripe on What Is Enlightenment's twelvefold rainbow chart, The Progressive Darwinists, already gets wild and weird and borders on the theories of Rupert Sheldrake (explicitly mentioned at the end of the section):
A relatively new field called evolutionary developmental biology, or “evo-devo,” is [...] exploring the relationship between an organism’s development from embryo to adulthood and that organism’s genes. It has been discovered, for example, that seemingly random sequences of DNA, also known as “junk DNA,” act as “molecular fingers” that switch nearby genes on and off during development. [...]
There is also growing evidence that organisms can switch their genes on or off in response to their environment, and that the memory of this gene activity can be passed on to subsequent generations. This happens through what’s called “epigenetics”—the nongenetic transfer of information through cells—and is only one of many systems of heredity that progressive scientists are now discovering influence evolution. [...]
[W]e now know that systems of heredity themselves are evolving, and some profound questions once off limits to “serious” scientists (for instance, Can organisms direct their own evolution?) are now becoming unavoidable.
“There is a new sense of humility. . . . The discoveries being made show how enormously complicated everything is. . . . The popular conception of the gene as a simple causal agent is not valid.”
~ Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb
"Can organisms direct their own evolution?"!! That cuts close to some of the odd thoughts I'd been having. I was very struck by accounts of Native American dreams and visions of the tutelary spirit of a species, like White Buffalo Calf Woman. Were these visions not just imaginative or "primitive," but apprehensions of something real? Is there an intelligence, a consciousness, associated with each species? Are the relationships between predator and prey species -- contests which result in the refinement of both -- about something more than blood and meat, about a solemn transfer and transformation of energy and an almost Olympic perfection of form? I'm not going to take the leap of faith and say, "Yes!!" but they're fascinating questions, and I wouldn't rule out that for all that we know much more than indigenous people about the workings of the material world, they may have known some things we've forgotten.