Friday, February 12, 2010

Out of Africa

by Pa Rock

While Sarah Palin and others with severe intellectual deficits may prattle on about the earth being a mere six thousand years old (and dinosaurs and humans living together in harmony!), those capable of independent thought with even a modest education know better. Our planet, according to science, was formed through explainable and natural forces more than four-and-a-half billion years ago. Humans are relatively new residents on earth, having appeared a scant four to five million years ago. If my ciphering is to be trusted, humans have resided on this planet for a mere one one-thousandth of its existence.

Science has posited that life began on earth when the primordial oceans were stimulated with electrical charges - i.e. lightening - and microscopic, one-celled organisms were created. These first inhabitants eventually evolved into more complicated life forms, some of which finally made their way onto shore. It was probably on the continent of Africa that the ancestors of modern humans first appeared

In the 1970's researchers discovered the skeletal remains of a female hominid in Ethiopia who subsequently came to be known as "Lucy." She had walked upright in Africa 3.2 million years ago, and was our oldest human ancestor discovered up until that time. In 1992 the age of humanity was pushed further back when researchers, also in Ethiopia, came across bone fragments that have proven to be a female hominid who lived about 4.4 million years ago. The specimen is known as "Ardi," and she is the earliest known descendant of the last common ancestor shared by humans and chimps.

Yes, at one time humans and chimps had a common ancestor, and yes, the people who decry that scientific fact the loudest are more likely than not the ones who have evolved the least from that common ancestor!

Sarah Palin has every right to live in a world of superstition and ignorance, but if we want our children to function and compete in a modern world, we must make sure that they are exposed to the concepts of real science and understand their place in the continuing evolution of humanity. We owe it to Lucy and Ardi, we owe it to our planet, and we owe it to the future of our species - whatever that may be.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I saw Lucy once at the Natural History Museum in Denver. Very short lady.