Friday, March 11, 2005

Welcome To The Family

A startling scientific discovery has been made that might just rewrite the story of where we came from and how we got here. To quote Dean Faulk, Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University, ‘What we have here is a little brain unique in its appearance compared to anything seen before’. The little brain in question belonged to a little adult woman (about 3 feet tall); her remains were found in 2003 during a dig in a cave in Indonesia. Evidence of fire and utensils was also found with her. This particular lady lived about 18,000 years ago. Popularly referred to as a ‘hobbit’, it now appears that this short lady was one of us. Welcome to the family, Homo floriensis.

Before we have the party, it’s worth while giving a thought to what the family looks like and to consider our relatives and neighbours. Thanks to Mr Darwin we have a well organised family tree – although to some people it’s not a good idea to inscribe it in the family Bible. We are part of the Domain Eukyra. That covers everything with cells with membranes and that’s most living things. Within that, we are part of the Kingdom of Animalia and to narrow it down even more, our Phylum is Chordata. That means we are not plants and we do have a digestive system. Our little part of that Phylum is the Subphylum Vertebrata and that’s where the backbone comes in. Our Class is Mammalia and our Order is Primates. Dolly Parton is a good example of our Class and thumbs are a dead giveaway to our Order. Now we are finally at our family, Hominidae.

As in every family, there are distant relatives we never invite to dinner. In our case, we have some cousins (chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans) whose table manners and dress sense are quite embarrassing. That brings us to the folks we exchange Christmas cards with: Genus Homo.

There’s Homo rudolfensis but he left home so long ago that no one remembers what kind of guy he was. There’s Homo habilis, Uncle Herb to you and me. He’s handy with tools and is always making things. There’s Uncle Fred (Homo erectus) who used to live in the attic but can’t now as he stands up all the time and bumps his head on the rafters. He married Aunt Jade (Homo pekinensis) and moved to China a few years ago. The adopted twins next door (Homo heidelbergensis and Homo neandertalensis) like to play in our back yard and hate to go home to their own run down house. Sister Mary’s kid, Cro-Magnon, (Homo sapiens prehistoricus), is a typical teenager. He just sits in his room playing rock music and being resentful of everything. Luckily, some of the family are well adjusted, hard working, tolerant, tax paying members of society. These Homo sapiens get things done, put food on the table, and try not to judge the other family members. There’s always a welcome and a cold beer for visiting relatives – even for the obnoxious Homo insapiens who think they are so important and are always crusading for something and looking to get an edge up on everyone.

So welcome to the family, Homo floriensis. Although you are shorter than the rest of us, you are pretty handy around the house and you can cook with fire. Even though you were found in Indonesia, you were probably there as a part of a senior’s cruise that went horribly wrong. You’ll always be Mama Maria to us. A three foot tall woman who stays in the kitchen and watches the rest of us try to get along is just what this family needs: an Italian Mother-in-law.

3 Comments:

Blogger Abby Taylor said...

Please tell me you are already a well-published author. Great stuff.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Gamera said...

Well I dunno what to make of this old fight about Neanderthal mixin genes or not with sapiens, but I have found this one interesting proto-theory that postulates that IF it did happen, then some of our occuring problems might come from it.


Link 1, where it starts. Nice refresher course on the evolution of man.
http://www.rdos.net/eng/asperger.htm


Link 2, someone is trying to make sense of link 1 (this is where it gets interesting)
http://farviolet.com/~entropy/neanderthal/


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That's all very fine, but my own theory is even more daring. I believe that sapiens is the result of the cross breeding of two completely separate species. One being the male sapiens and the other being the female sapiens. Although anyone with experience of female sapiens will tell ya that it's impossible and that female sapiens prefer cats, I still maintain that it might been possible that male or even female sapiens be the result of such gene mixing.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

Ah, but remember, (tying into the next post) God took a rib from Adam, did some gene manipulation (removed the Y chromosome and duplicated the remaining X chromosome) and then apparently made a clone of Adam to make Eve. Very important to remember when talking about evolution. And then humanity inbred like crazy for the next several thousand years.

7:42 AM  

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