They have fire!
Well, okay, not really. But they can use lighters and apparently don't have much fear of fire. Sweet. Combine this with chimps living in caves and making spears, and I'm about ready to welcome our new, hairy masters.
My real problem with that video is that she is so insistent on "this is cultural, it has nothing to do with biology." My question would then be: "Okay. Well, what if we attempted to do this with zebrafish? How about lemurs?" I think a better statement would have been: "There are very few biological differences between humans and bonobos, and thus a stimulating cultural and educational environment can make up a lot of ground between the two." Biology is still essential (in that some brain structures are necessary for linguistic abilities), but cultural/education is likewise essential.
Also, I'm concerned she has gotten a little too close to her subject and is willing to interpret some of the "symbol" drawings as more exact than they are. The first symbol, okay. Second, maybe. Third, not sure at all.
But I could be wrong.
More below the fold.
In relation to this, chimps are apparently "language-ready."
Sounds cool to me, and goes to show that language, while perhaps still unique to humans, has homologues throughout the primates. The last paragraph is quite good as well. Either way, it's a win. 1) Chimps are naturally language ready and only need the proper environment to begin engaging in it (and perhaps beginning to face selective pressures for it); or, 2) Chimps have extremely plastic brains and can develop linguistic processing areas through environmental processes. Also good news.
In other evolutionary news, a pliosaur has been discovered in Norway. As a fossil, of course!
This reminds me of something...what could it be...oh yes! A liopleurodon! It's a magic liopleurodon, Charlie!
In sadder news, there is this video from the 70's (maybe the early 90's. It does end with a Nirvana video). The really sad part is that creationist claims have not changed at all. We still have to deal with this shit today. It's completely rife with non-sequitors, logical fallacies, and out-right lies. I'd say we should make a drinking game out of this, but we'd all be dead by the end. You can't get even a quarter of the way through without alcohol poisoning.
And this is still going on. (Coincidentally, this is also where the title of the post comes in. "Devolution" is such a bullshit term. When cave fish lose functional eyes, this is an adaptation, because eyes are pretty expensive organs resource wise, and it's much more adaptive to let that organ go into non-functionality if it's useless. However, if there is anything which is evidence for "devolved" humans, it has to be creationists.)
I might devote an entire post to tearing this thing apart sometime soon, but for now, I'm just going to give a one-off:
"A true bird, not a reptile-bird intermediate." Your statement is utterly meaningless. The bird/dinosaur distinction is really pretty arbitrary and gets us a good way into understanding the whole problem of labeling species. It's a functional definition: two organisms that cannot reproduce a viable offspring. But here's the problem: if you trace your ancestry back far enough, eventually your ancestors are not going to be labeled homo sapiens. Where exactly is that line drawn? Well, sometimes it's sort of hard to tell. There's an unbroken line of reproduction stretching from you back to the first self-replicating molecules billions of years ago, and clearly at every step along that line organisms of a particular "species" could reproduce with one another, even though they are all, technically, transitional forms. Birds are still dinosaurs, we just choose to group them separately. Humans are still primates, just like we're still mammals, which are another branch off from the reptile line. Good job guys, seriously.
Now for something entirely sad and disturbing. I really want to know how you can watch this and not call it some form of child abuse.
It's a five part series. Here, I'll link them up.
And now back to school work. Ugh.
Sunday, March 2, 2008