Monday, February 9, 2009

A happy post; it could happen.

As I have mentioned George and I (in a totally boneheaded move, considering my physical condition, but I SIMPLY COULD NOT BE TALKED OUT OF IT) went to Seattle to see Lucy, our bipedal ancestor. Marvelous.

The other awesome thing we did was go to the Seattle Art Museum. Due to my annoyingly delicate condition, it required staying another night. the Art Museum itself was rather sadly and disturbingly predictable -- there is a canon. They had one of each. A Rothko, a Warhol, a Cornell, (oddly 2-d) etc. But, but, but.... besides the Bierstadt I believe I've already mentioned, and adore, there, right across the street, visible from all windows facing, uh east? is some 24 hour porn palace that had advertized in that unmistakable pink porn font "BIG BUTT SHOW." Best part of the museum. Well, it tied with the pottery and the Bierstadt. You have to understand, the juxtaposition between the marquee and the over-botoxed over-dressed, seriously anorexic, under-uh, fashion-charming clientele was, let us just say, a delight.


kerfuffler said...

Oh boy, a happy post! Maybe I'll post something silly-----intentionally silly-----soon. It always seems inappropriate after a serious post or a health update. Hope you're doing well. Big butts seem to have put the color back in your cheeks, even though they did not put you to the blush.
Oh yeah, and speaking of Lucy and her ilk, check out this article:

I probably liked it because it pretty much said what I always thought, that the differences between far flung groups of people (ie. different races) indicated the beginning of the process of speciation. Our technological prowess, sense of adventure and willingness to travel overcame the distances however and we are still very much one species.
This seemingly obvious point (speciation process----evolution) has been flatly denied because some fear the very notion would encourage racism. Do you remember when some expert somewhere said that race was only a social construct devoid of any biological underpinnings? Social scientists lept on that one poorly supported pronouncement and have held tight to it ever since. I hate it when science tries to suppress inconvenient truths.

djinn said...

I just lost a long post tying speciation to specific patent-worthy traits, bad bad blogger; let's take another tack.

My family, other than me has robin-eggs blue eyes. This eye color is older than humanity.

My youngest has auburn hair. My brother has honest to goodness red hair. If I were a man, I'd have a red, vivid red, beard.

These traits, blue eyes, red hair, actually predate homo sapiens; it appears that they were picked up from our earlier homo erectus anscestors in northern Europe. And Where did Blond (e) hair come from anyway?

Plus I have brother with an actual sagittal crest, not to mention the entire family's rather spectacular brow ridges. Unfortunately, we lack occipital buns.

So.... we're racially imbred, impure, what have you, being human, hominoid combos. Go us!

djinn said...

Actually, though, kerfuffler, us humans went through some sort of bottleneck (opinions differ as to when) with the result that we are all extremely closely related. In fact, i read a paper that (if you read the footnotes very carefully) found no differences at all in certain sections of the Y chromosome from populations as distant, as I recall, Japan, somewhere in Africa, Europe and NA.

SO, race absolutely exists. However, in spite of race, we are all rather ludicrously closely related. Any two chimps seem to have more genetic variation than the entire human race.

Race, real, but meaningless. I could go on, if you like. For example, with a bit of prodding, I'll explain the handful of genes that produces skin coloring and hair coloring, but it's a bit early.

djinn said...

I think, because of the closeness of the entire human genome, what you see as speciation, I see as inbreeding with in-situ homo erectus populations. For example, Peking man had specific shovel-shaped incisors (?from memory here, could have been a different tooth) also found in current Chinese populations, but not elsewhere. And there's that red hair and blue eyes from the very north of Europe previously mentioned.

kerfuffler said...

I read somewhere (???) that modern man had not even interbred with the Neanderthals in Europe, and that all humanity springs from a more recent migration from Africa. But I suspect, as clearly you do, that local hominid populations may have intermingled somewhat with the newcomers from Africa, and that this may have contributed to the speedy morphological divergence which followed. The historically established, long time practice of conquering hordes stealing the local women-folk is likely to have predated writing and homo sapiens.(duh!) It sure seems like more than a coincidence that modern Europeans seem so much more Neanderthal-ish than other human populations. Oh, you know I don't mean stupid (Although frankly the notion of stupid Neanderthals is merely a popular misconception.) or brutish, but rather, having relatively heavy skeletons, and lunky musculature.

Yes, race is (should be) unimportant. The fact that it developed merely reveals the efficacy of the evolutionary process in adapting populations to local conditions. If the populations had remained truly isolated from one another for a MUCH longer time, then perhaps separate species would have evolved. Whether some of the divergent evolution occurred within the local homo erectus population origially, or later entirely amongst the homo sapiens is immaterial to the question of whether or not the process of speciation was under way.

Geographic isolation is often a key factor in the development of new species. Lions and tigers are considered separate species because in the wild they do not interbreed.(They never encounter one another in the wild.) When given a chance though, in circuses and zoos, they interbreed easily. Over time, if they are kept genetically isolated, their ability to interbreed should disappear.

Jen said...

I thought your post about President Kimball was fascinating. It came up on google reader, but it seems to have been removed from the blog (so I'm commenting here).