Monday, March 07, 2005

A Relative we just met

Scientists used to argue whether human ancestors developed higher thinking processes before they started walking on two feet, or if it was the act of balancing on two feet as opposed to four, that made thinking an advantage. Now the evidence is overwhemlmingly on the side of the brain having to pay catch up with the opposable thumbs. It appears from all available evidence that bipedalism freed these marvelous appendages from the duties of hanging on to tree limbs or having to be placed on the ground to keep the face out of puddles, thus making them capable of holding poker cards, firing weapons, and typing. In my case, at this very moment, I still have six fingers and two amazing thumbs just hanging out with not much to do except to get in the way of the two digits that are actually doing all the typing...faithful readers will note that the "higher thinking processes" are also just hanging out waiting for something to usual.

So anyway, scientists just announced that in a region of Ethiopia called, "Afar" (nope, not making that up) they have found a fossilized skeleton, 40% of it anyway, that has been determined to be of a bipedal human-like creature. Dating processes are very complicated these days but the range of age has been determined to be between 3.8 million and 4 million years old. Several independant methods are used involving radioactive isotope decay and dating of not only the fossils themselves but the dirt and rock strata in which they are found. This is a very time consuming and tedious process and the dates will tighten up considerably when all the work is complete. There is little question that this being walked the earth around one million years before the famous human ancestor, "Lucy", who lived about 2.8 to 3.2 million years ago.
"This is the world's oldest biped," Bruce Latimer, director of the natural history museum in Cleveland, Ohio, told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital, adding that "it will revolutionise the way we see human evolution".

The bones were found three weeks ago in Ethiopia's Afar region, at a site some 60 kilometres from Hadar where Lucy, one of the first hominids, was discovered in 1974.

What makes this a big deal is the structure of the ankles in this skeleton. It could stand up on two legs and walk around in the manner similar to modern humans.

So far four skeletons of different human ancestors have been found, each one a link in human evolution that is no longer missing. We have also found "side branches" in the human family tree, such as the famous hobbit-like creature from Indonesia that just made the news and the well known Neandertal man.

Darwinian theory predicts that there were such links and side branches. Archaeological finds such as this one fill in the blanks of our evolutionary history. Contrary to what Creationists claim, Evolution is not a theory at all! It is a fact. It happened. And Darwinian science proves it by the hypothesis/theory, prediction, and determination.

Most often Evolution gets verified by little things... Sometimes... by big ones like this new finding in Ethiopia.

A spokesman from the Creationist Institute, when told of the new fossil find, said,

"I CAN'T HEAR YOU...LA, LA, LA, LA....!"



And now for some higher mental functions:

"Theology asserts propositions that need not be proven true, while ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The combination can make it impossible for a democracy to fashion real-world solutions to otherwise intractable challenges."


"We had to struggle with the old enemies of and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob."


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