Thursday, August 09, 2007

. . 3, 4, 5, 6 . .

. . Oh. Excuse me a minute. I've found m'self needing to count to 10 so's I don't go self-righteously ballistic.

7, 8, 9, 10.

{sigh}

There. That's better.
[An iffy assertion, at best]

The old theory is that the first and oldest species in our family tree, Homo habilis, evolved into Homo erectus, which then became human, Homo sapiens. But Leakey's find suggests those two earlier species lived side-by-side about 1.5 million years ago in parts of Kenya for at least half a million years. She and her research colleagues report the discovery in a paper published in Thursday's journal Nature.
D'you see that "But"? It's inappropriate. Ridiculously so, in as far as it includes the misapprehension that Every homo habilis was ancestral to homo erectus and, thus, to us H. Sapiens. Not only is that NOT how evolution works, if it were so . . . well, it can not have been because then we would NOT have evolved as we have.

Please don't get me wrong. This discovery is both fascinating and sublime in its representation of that long debated boogeyman, the "Missing Link". What it does is to make more clear than ever how evolution is in no way a merely linear process of inevitably pre-determined end-production. It's a mess! But a mess which follows the laws of physics, and is colored by chance and the purposes of individuals within and along the chain.

Of course these two species lived alongside one another. Of course the older one was still extant, at least for a while, whilst its derivative was coming into its own.

That is Evolution! This discovery was just a matter of time in coming, and even if it was never uncovered it would still Have Had To Have Happened. Otherwise, WE would simply not be here today.

And, yes, my attitude is currently in "SUCK" mode so, as I've recently been assured, I'm sounding both haughty and imperious. No offense, eh.

I just think that the quality of most people's education on the topic of evolution is as much responsible for our current state of War and Constitutional near-Crisis as is any other cause, and to see science writers frame the issue as if some Long-time knowledge were suddenly a New Thing, well, it just pisses me off to the point where I need to rant.

Being drug-free And unmarried for the first time in about 15 years doesn't help my attitude any, either. But I am Very Happy to be both for a change.

On that note, the writing of the article does get better, so Enjoy!

The two species lived near each other, but probably didn't interact, each having its own "ecological niche," (University College Evolutionary Anatomist, Fred) Spoor said. Homo habilis was likely more vegetarian while Homo erectus ate some meat, he said. Like chimps and apes, "they'd just avoid each other, they don't feel comfortable in each other's company," he said.

There remains some still-undiscovered common ancestor that probably lived 2 million to 3 million years ago, a time that has not left much fossil record, Spoor said.

Overall what it paints for human evolution is a "chaotic kind of looking evolutionary tree rather than this heroic march that you see with the cartoons of an early ancestor evolving into some intermediate and eventually unto us," Spoor said in a phone interview from a field office of the Koobi Fora Research Project in northern Kenya.

That old evolutionary cartoon, while popular with the general public, is just too simple and keeps getting revised, said Bill Kimbel, who praised the latest findings. He is science director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University and wasn't part of the Leakey team.

"The more we know, the more complex the story gets," he said. Scientists used to think Homo sapiens evolved from Neanderthals, he said. But now we know that both species lived during the same time period and that we did not come from Neanderthals.

Now a similar discovery applies further back in time.

[Sit up straight(er)! {-;]

8 comments:

  1. I like to think I'm pretty well educated but I know I sometimes fall for that cartoon version of evolution.

    On the other hand, when I read stuff like this, I'm not at all surprised that biology is more complicated than is often presented.

    So, I get the best of both worlds: I get to be stupid and I learn something!

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  2. w00t!!!

    I dig it, Kevin. The folks I've got a problem with are the ones who're doing the explaining. If ya don't know, then say so, rather than screw it up for everybody down the line from you, eh.

    Meh... It probably just bugs me so cuz I hate it sooo much when I do it m'self.

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  3. That one bugs me a little, but the media have proved time and time again that they do not understand half the scientific principles that they write about.

    On the other hand, the word "but" could have been snuck in there mischievously.

    Which is a far sight worse - there really isn't much in the way of justification for this except for the obvious.

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  4. Butt? Did someone say Butt?

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  5. Cha-Ching! eh, Dikkii.

    {shakin'head}

    Ya sniffed that out, did ya, Bossy!

    {-;

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  6. Jeez! Did I really post that comment? I mean, I know I meant to post it, but I really did post it, didn't I...

    Whoa... Well, Happy Friday!

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  7. If the media and the public can't even understand that there is a difference between the terms "natural selection" and "evolution," how is one to expect them to understand the intricacies of how a particular species evolved?

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  8. I know. I know...

    BUT they won't do anything but chase the golden ring unless we remind them, over, and over, and over of their duty whilst doin' so.

    As a wise(ass) man once sang, I'm no Superman. None of us are, so we all need to rely on each other and our Educators and Info Mavens in the MSM have Got To Be held to higher standards than they're currently attaining thanks to a lack of cash for the former and an overabundance of zeal for the same from the latter. Otherwise, we just get ... well, what we've currently got.

    {sighhh}

    Still, I do need to chill a little. My horse does get a little high sometimes, and I tend to forget about that.

    Thx. (blech}

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