Our great journey

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by ninja08hippie, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    It occurred to me that most people who argue about evolution simply don't understand it, and seem to go out of their way to avoid understanding it. They say things like we just can't know, which isn't true, scientists do know how we evolved, when, and even can take good guesses as to why. So if you're interested, let's take a three million year journey together. :)



    3.2 million BCE, African jungle:
    The land is rich and a massive jungle stretches from coast to coast. Apes swing between the trees have they had for eons before. But as India crashes into Asia, the great mountain range it created started to change the weather patterns, sucking the moisture out of African air. Desert and grasslands started to replace the jungles. The animals were forced to adapt, or die. Hopping down from a tree is a three foot tall black creature. It's ancestors could move between trees without ever touching the ground, but not anymore. The ground was dangerous, full of cats that loved the taste of ape. This ape, however did something that no ape had done before: it stood up. An evolutionary response to the trees getting further apart, standing upright allowed Australopithecus to see further in the tall grass, move faster, and carry things with it. It has taken the first step in a long history of firsts that would eventually become us.

    2 million BCE, African savana:
    Australopithecus is gone, but so great was the evolutionary step that created her, many species had diverged from her. At this time, there are over a dozen different ape-men, all standing upright. The next evolutionary step is about to take place, one that would start to shape our brain. While most ape-men ate the tall grass and fruits of the trees, Homo habilis appeared on the scene, and had also developed a taste for meat. They scavenged kills of the cats. While lions would pick a caracas clean, they weren't able to get to the bone marrow. Many of the ape-men had started to use tools, including sticks to gather termites, but homo habilis used rocks to smash open bones. This protein allowed the homo habilis brain to get bigger. The increased brain power allowed habilis to do something amazing: correlate seemingly unrelated things. This was the first species that would see a swarm of vultures circling and ask the simple question: Why? This allowed man to follow scavengers, tracks, and other subtle clues that no other animal could, giving it an abundance of food. The abundance of food at this time, gave habilus something it's ancestors didn't: down time. While bored, it would play with things, eventually making tools.

    1 million BCE, African savana:
    Homo habilis is gone, replaced by homo erectus. As the environment changed, lots of more specialized ape-men died out, and the more adaptable erectus become the dominate. A flash of lightning strikes a tree near an erectus clan. The tree explodes and lights on fire, here, these ape-men are about to discover something that would be the catalyst for the next evolutionary step. For 4 billion years, every animal on earth had instinctively run away from fire. For the first time, curiosity and intellect allowed a creature to override it's animal instinct. It approached it. Erectus became to harvest fire and use it as a tool. It created warmth, light, and it kept predators away. While most animals went to sleep when the sun went down, homo erectus gathered around the fire.

    "For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened that unleashed the power of our imagination: we learned to talk." - Dr Stephen Hawking.

    Around the campfire, language started to evolve. No other animal in history had the ability to share information the way that erectus did. This ability make erectus able to coordinate, giving rise to the next evolutionary step: hunting. This would allow erectus to, for the first time, leave it's cradle. They followed the game animals into Asia and Europe. In Europe, these would evolve into Neanderthal man and in south east Asia, Java man.

    250,000 BCE, African coast:
    The primitive stone tools hadn't evolved. Man was making stone tools the way that birds made nests: They didn't really understand what they were doing, they just new that they should. That was about to change, Africa was drying out even more because of the ice age in Europe. Erectus populations were on the verge of extinction. They lived in caves near the coastline where there was still food. This dwindling numbers and harsh environment meant that survival of the fittest was now pushed to extremes. The smarter groups, held a distinct advantage, here man first learned how to fish and fine tune hunting. Out of these small groups of huntsmen and fishermen came homo sapien, the smartest creature to ever live on earth.

    100,000 BCE, European woodlands:
    A group of Neanderthals encircle a pig. They are about four feet tall and the most successful homo species to ever live. In the dense woods, they lose the pig, they use their superior noses to track it. Off in the distance, they hear the pig squeal. They rush to where they heard it and stop at the site of a tall hairless creature gutting the pig. They stare at each other, both intellectually analyzing the other, the first time this had ever happened. Homo sapien determines that the small hairy creature, holding stone tipped spears is a threat, and attacked and killed it. For 80,000 years humans would purge neaderthals; both actively, by killing them, and passively, by hunting their food.

    50,000 BCE, European woodlands:
    Another amazing evolutionary step is about to take place, but this time it's not man's own evolution that would shape the future, it was something else. As a human clan eats around a campfire, it tosses the bones of its kill aside. A stealthy and brave animal approaches from behind them: a grey wolf. It grabs the discarded bones and rushes off with the rest of the pack. As the bravest and least fearful of humans, this dog is high ranked in their pack, thus the ones who could approach humans mated more. Their finely tuned noses let them track the human nomads, picking up scraps. This is the ice age, food is scarce and the humans, with their superior intellect can more easily find food, and with their weapons, can bring down massive prey, leaving leftovers for the dogs. They evolved into modern domestic dogs. The human's superior brainpower and the dog's superior senses make the team unstoppable in Europe.

    7,000 BCE, Iraq marshlands:
    Human clans have been living where two great rivers meet for eons due to it's rich land, a few dogs follow them around as well. Here, man has a comfortable life, so they no longer have to be nomadic. They start to understand how plants work and how to keep them alive. Agriculture is born. The humans care for the crops, and the dogs keep pests away. They quickly learn to domesticate other animals, build shelter, and something else starts to happen. No longer needing to focus all energy on survival, man starts to wonder about his world. What is that giant object that floats in the sky? It provides us light, heat, but if you look at it, it hurts you. Religion is born. Religion also allows leaders to start controlling large groups of people by associating themselves with gods. Out of religion, came empires.

    6,000 BCE, Egypt:
    The harsh arid desert makes travel grueling. Man could not travel far beyond his civilization anymore, he required too much water and there wasn't enough of it. The egyptians noticed that boiling the water made it safer, but boiling it with certain crops in the water, made it safe for longer. They had accidentally created beer, which because of the alcohol content, was less prone to bacteria and could be transported long distances allowing empires to trade goods and knowledge with each other.

    May 28, 585 BC, Miletus:
    A man named Thales had taken astronomical records from the east, which they had thought were messages from the gods, and removed the gods from them, analyzing them objectively. He had tried to figure out how everything moved using mathematics, not religion. He had calculated, that on this day in greece, the sun and the moon would be in the same spot in the sky, he was proven right by the occurrence of a total solar eclipse. He was the first man to realize that they sun, moon, and stars were not gods, but objects. Science had been invented. In the coming decades, the greeks would invent geometry, trigonometry, navigation via the stars, and calculate the circumference of the earth in a day that most people still thought it was flat.

    508 BCE, Athens:
    Civilizations are booming all over the place, massive ones center around rivers, but in mountains, villages had sprung up. Controlled by aristocrats, not empires due to the physical separation of the mountains. During the rule of a tyrant, for the first time in recorded history, the people overthrew their rulers. They turned to a man named Cleisthenes to build a new government. A sudden vision of genius would change the course of human history. In an insignificant village of less than 5000 people democracy and socialism were born. The people would vote on everything from the price of olives, to the declaration of war: a white stone for yes, a black stone for no.

    July 20, 1969, Moon:
    The ultimate goal of evolution is to preserve the species and to spread. On this date, human kind took the next step in evolution: leaving it's birthplace. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first stepped foot on another celestial body. A quarter of a million years of human evolution had produced a species with the technology and the curiosity to leave where it all started.
     
    #1 ninja08hippie, Apr 28, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  2. ninja08hippie

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    I think, scientifically speaking, we have four major evolutionary steps left to take:

    Immortality:
    We will shortly come to a point technologically where we could keep a brain alive long after the body is gone, and/or transfer the mind into a non-biological machine.

    Global Atheism:
    There will come a point, I'd guess in about 20 generations where religion will fall away to science for good. There will likely be pockets of it for a long time, but most of the world will lose the need for gods in the not too distant future.

    Colonization:
    We can not survive on our little blue ball. Eventually, mankind will have to make the leap outwards. The moon will be the likely first colony, then Mars, then perhaps the moons of Jupiter. Then outwards from there into the final frontier.

    First Contact:
    Some day, we will almost certainly come in contact with a technological species other than our own. First contact will likely be with intelligent probes, and our first outreach program will probably be the same. Personally, I think they are already aware of us, but waiting for us to mature as a species.
     
  3. lbushwalker

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    6,000 BCE, Egypt:
    The harsh arid desert makes travel grueling. Man could not travel far beyond his civilization anymore, he required too much water and there wasn't enough of it. The egyptians noticed that boiling the water made it safer, but boiling it with certain crops in the water, made it safe for longer. They had accidentally created beer, which because of the alcohol content, was less prone to bacteria and could be transported long distances allowing empires to trade goods and knowledge with each other.

    Arguably the most significant accidental discover in the history of the world!
     
  4. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    Ain't that the truth :p Hard to believe that without it, we probably wouldn't be anywhere near where we are.
     
  5. dougsan

    dougsan New Member

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    Ninja08hippy, I liked your history of human development and agree with it in principle. There are points with which I take exception one being homoerectus killing off neanderthals. My reading indicates they fought but what in fact did in the neanderthal was their inability to communicate among themselves and plan. Homoerectus shared ideas like carrying fire and making weapons more powerful. Neanderthals, even while watching homoerectus do these things, couldn't understand the value. Neanderthals also didn't understand the value in farming. They moved from area to area (cave to cave really) burning up energy which had to be replaced with more and more hunting. Homoerectus, because they had better weapons could kill bigger prey. Killing bigger prey freed up time to think, farm and so forth. Proof of this comes out of the caves in France. Homoerectus stayed in specific caves a great deal longer than neanderthals and their caves were bigger to support the growing size of their tribe. Neanderthals, partly because they lacked sophisticated communications didn't band to gether in groups any larger than their limited hunting skills reqired. They didn't have the skills necesssary to survive the Ice Age. They didn't have the large tribes that guaranteed survival of some in hard times.

    The other major exception I point out is the birth of religion. The first known religious symbols, the circle (representing the sun) and the crooked cross (Hitler's Swastika) which represented the rays of light coming from the sun predates your reference by 50,000 years or so. When we came out of the trees and began communicating with each other we started looking at our surroundings and trying to understand. One of our first fears was the loss of heat and sight, the daily loss of the sun. We explained the loss of the sun to a God and this is where religion rears its ugly head for the first time. I must apologize. It has been too many years since I wrote a paper on religios symbols and my old mind is getting brittle. I do have the paper somewhere with all the requisite dates. If I can find it I'll offer the dates I believe to be correct.

    I am not saying my information is better than yours. I am saying I remember things a bit differently.
     
  6. ninja08hippie

    ninja08hippie Official SF Hugger
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    Actually, in the late 90s and early 2000s, we mapped the entire neaderthal genome. After mapping our own genome in the previous 30 years, we know of about a dozen specific genes that directly affect human communication in both speech and processing. All of these genes were present in all homo species from erectus beyond, including neaderthals. They understood abstract thought and had advanced language analogous to our own. They moved around a lot because of the ice age, food moved, so they followed it like wolves, while erectus continued to evolve in Africa along the coastline, where food never moved. That's why they stayed in place longer, agriculture didn't appear until about 10,000 years ago, long after both were extinct, replaced by sapien :)

    Religion and belief in the supernatural has likely been around since the time of erectus, I was referring to organized religion with followings with numbers in the hundreds or thousands instead of tens.
     
  7. ninja08hippie

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    :( Focus people, Im trying to teach you something. About 2500 years ago man first asked the philosophical question: "What am I?" and for the first time in history, we actually know.

    Look at yourself the way someone with no education or modern knowledge would. Look at your hands. They are clearly the hands of an animal, they are squishy, fragile, and meaty, yet something sets us apart. It's our brain, this is where it came from. Only if you know where we came from, can you really decide where we will go.
     
    #7 ninja08hippie, May 3, 2013
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  8. mrcock

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    I say, you open geometry, not invent it
     
  9. Essene

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    I laughed at part of this thread. I agreed with others.

    You can't fight facts; but facts in the scientific community get argued back and forth. For instance, the order of the Tick, I believe, is under scrutiny. The phylogenetic accuracy, in concordance with apomorphies/etc, is important in mapping everything. If you're interested in evolution genetics, I suggest you check out the origins of the Dinoflagelates and Archaebacterians.

    Edit:

    Hell- or even population genetics. Gene drift vs. Gene flow. Now THAT is where the real conversation begins concerning our evolution.
     
  10. ninja08hippie

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    This is specific to human evolution, not earth as a whole. If you laid the entire earth history over a kilometer, the 3.2 million years I outline, make up 4cm of it. ;)

    You mention the tick, not terribly relevant to human evolution, but another parasite is: lice. Every mammal is infested with lice, it lives in hair. Human head lice evolved with us, since the days of austrolopithicus. But for some reason, humans are the only hairy species that has two different types of lice, head and pubic. Our head lice is old, and likely left over from when we were hairy all over, but for a short time, the hairless chest and stomach left our pubic area uninhabited. Our pubic lice is most closely related to gorilla lice, and using genetic dating, we know that the human pubic lice diverged from gorilla lice during the time of homo erectus, meaning that they were the first to lose their hair in the middle. :)

    The order of the tick may be under reexamination, but humans are always at the leading edge of evolutionary science. We get studied first, so our understanding of ourselves is usually fairly accurate for the science of the time. Genetic markers were applied to us first, so we know very well where we sit in terms of evolution.
     
    #10 ninja08hippie, May 3, 2013
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  11. Essene

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    Removing one piece of a puzzle isn't the best of ideas if you want to finish it.

    The relevance is that, as I clearly said, what is regarded as fact gets debated in the scientific community.
     
    #11 Essene, May 3, 2013
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  12. ninja08hippie

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    I know, we are about 150 years into that debate however ;) Human origins have been hotly debated since Darwin, the fossil record helped, but now genetics is giving much more reliable answers.

    The difference between science and myth is that science keeps a stabile hypothesis based on every piece of available data, when new data is presented, the hypothesis is altered to fit it. We now have a lot of data, we have the genetics to show our timeline, we have sedimentary samples to show the climate, we have fossils to show our anatomy, we have tools to show our technology. I'd say the human story is about 50% complete, but the major story has been compiled and is fairly set in stone.

    Debate only exists in the absence of evidence. For example, for over 100 years, scientists debated whether or not neaderthal man was our ancestor. We debated if we came from them, cross-bred with them, or simply replace them. It wasn't until about 15 years ago that we had the technology to look at the genetics and say with absolute certainty that we were in no way descended from them, we simply replaced them. (which had not been the consensus at the time, most scientists thought we cross-bred with them ;) )
     
    #12 ninja08hippie, May 4, 2013
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  13. ninja08hippie

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    Science is all about fine tuning. Technology allows us to get more and more precise. Genetics is the most precise we have ever been. Because of markers in our DNA, geneticists can say with 99.999999...% certainty that at one point about 150,000 years ago, there were a mere 1000 homo sapiens on earth, and that every man and woman on the planet are their direct descendants. A precision that Mr. Darwin could have never imagined that we could know. DNA itself, wouldn't be discovered for 100 years after his time.
     
  14. Essene

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    A debate that will continuously continue.

    Because if it doesn't- Anthropology goes out the window.
     
  15. ninja08hippie

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    Debate will exist as long as science does. Much of science is assumption that can never be completely understood, we just have to do the best we can with what we are given. Luckily, human evolution happened in such a short time frame (compared to earth history) that there is enough evidence that we can know very much about it. Our true origins, for example, will forever remain a mystery, 4 billion years of it, there is little remnants of the beginning. And even though the scientific consensus is that we couldn't possibly be alone in the universe, I fear that I may never get to know for sure. But if we do, it will be the most profound day in human history since we first created a stone hand axe.
     
  16. Meee

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    Denial exists in the presence of evidence.

    Actual quote said to me: "Dinosaur bones were put in the ground by Satan to deceive us."

    What are you trying to accomplish with your essay?

    Edit: Actually, the quote also included something about radio carbon dating also being part of Satan's deception. The dinosaur bones were put in the ground and made to look old by Satan.
     
    #16 Meee, May 4, 2013
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  17. mrcock

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    how you relax me all the time, meee huh

    :lol
     
  18. Trond

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    I should add that many things Ninja08hippie are saying are actually debatable, and a few things are wrong. I still find it a neat story, and I agree that scientists know a lot of things that are often blown off as "speculation" or "just theories". However, the Neanderthal genome is not fully known (the full mitochondrial genome is, but that's not the same thing). Also the goal of evolution isnt preserving the species. evolution doesn't really have a "goal" per se, it's just a mechanism. Exactly why homonids stood upright, and started using tools etc, are still topics that are hotly debated. Athens also had more than 5000 citizens. Anyway, maybe I'm being nitpicky, trying to cover as much as you're doing in a few paragraphs is tricky, so don't let me ruin the fun. :)

    Let me add something:
    Ca 240 B.C. Eratosthenes (a Greek living in Alexandria) first calculates the size of the earth. pretty impressive.

    Meee: that's a tricky one. The version I have heard is that scientists invent things based on rocks that happen to look like bone. This is a bit easier to counter, having dug up a few dinosaurs myself. One common misconception is that they have all turned to stone. But dinosaur bones are usually just that: bone. Sometimes they're not even embedded in stone; in some areas you can just brush off some sand and there they are: ancient bones that have all the features you would expect from bony tissue (and also teeth with enamel etc) except that the anatomy doesn't correspond to anything living today. That is one clever devil :D
     
  19. Essene

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    Cliffs?
     
  20. Trond

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    ?