Nova has a TV show about the Hobbits of Flores Island.  It is a very good show and so far, we can see it on You Tube unless it gets pulled.  Watch it now!  Also, an intact pelvis has finally been pieced together that clearly shows how big the homo erectus babies probably were and they were big, relatively speaking.  And the mothers walked totally upright, too.  And a news story about germ/human evolution is a good read in the New Scientist.


Breaking News: The Most Intact Homo erectus Female Pelvis « Anthropology.net

Sileshi Semaw, the leader of the Gona Project, said that the birth canal of this pelvis is 30% larger than earlier estimates based on the 1.5-million-year-old juvenile male pelvis of KNM-WT 15000 (Turkana Boy) found in Kenya. I don’t have an early copy of the paper, but if this is true, this find will make us reevaluate our estimations of Homo erectus growth and development. Current theories, based upon estimations of the existing male skeleton from Kenya, suggested Homo erectus produced babies with only a limited neonatal brain size, and experienced rapid brain growth while still developmentally immature. But as you may know, male and female primate pelvic girdles are extremely different. This new pelvis also tells us of some interesting differences in stature and gait.

The 1.2 million year old female Homo erectus pelvis from Gona, Ethiopia

Looking at the pelvis of this million+ year old primate, homo erectus, it is pretty certain, the babies were born by being dropped perhaps even from a squatting position.  We know that human babies have a very large soft spot on the top of the head where the bones don’t quite come together at birth.  Humans have very difficult births and we know that in the Great Apes, females give birth without assistance.  While many humans need protection and help and labor can last for many hours, even.


I had one pregnancy where the labor lasted more than a day and was extremely hard due to the huge size of my son’s head.  On the other hand, my own mother was in labor less than 3 hours with me.  We know that domestic animals have increasing difficulties with labor, too.  I suspect, this is due to human breeding interference.  When I had many sheep, I had to sometimes hand deliver babies, especially when there were twins or triplets.  Untangling the legs while the babies were still entering the birth canal, for example.


Indeed, humans have this collective interest in birthing.  A female goes into labor and the other females take notice and move closer, not further away.  Interest in birth is so tremendous, a huge body of magic spells, taboos and myths have grown around the process to an amazing degree.  The human mind is obsessed with the whole business of birthing and the journey into the soul to discover the gods nearly always involves going into dark mazes and then suddenly seeing the light.


So it is a happy day for me to see that the very earliest humanoid mothers were already giving birth to large-brained children.  I suspect our entire social structure, as far as how our brains are wired, are very much influenced by the mysteries and difficulties of giving birth due to our big heads causing so much pain and so many difficulties.


This is also part of the evolution of humans: unlike baby lambs, baby horses, or even baby apes, humanoid babies are very helpless.  Perhaps the baby of the lady of this ancient pelvis could cling to the mother right away.  But it is certain that our evolution moved rapidly away from this. 


For humans have to be ‘premature’ births.  We are born weak and quite helpless.  Unable to turn over or even lift our heads.  This is most unusual.  The babies of predators are more helpless at birth than prey babies.  But humans are singular in that we are weak and helpless for years, relatively speaking. 


Anyone who sees a baby lamb leap away from the wolves the same week it is born can see the difference!  Something for us to think about.  Society is our greatest human tool of all.


Here is the 5 part series on You Tube of a very, very good NOVA show about the Hobbit.  I highly recommend this series.  It asks many intelligent questions.


YouTube – NOVA: Alien From Earth “The Hobbit” 1 of 5


Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life – life – 21 January 2009 – New Scientist

This Darwin’s original ‘Tree of Life’ sketch.


The tree-of-life concept was absolutely central to Darwin’s thinking, equal in importance to natural selection, according to biologist W. Ford Doolittle of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Without it the theory of evolution would never have happened. The tree also helped carry the day for evolution. Darwin argued successfully that the tree of life was a fact of nature, plain for all to see though in need of explanation. The explanation he came up with was evolution by natural selection.

Ever since Darwin the tree has been the unifying principle for understanding the history of life on Earth. At its base is LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor of all living things, and out of LUCA grows a trunk, which splits again and again to create a vast, bifurcating tree. Each branch represents a single species; branching points are where one species becomes two. Most branches eventually come to a dead end as species go extinct, but some reach right to the top – these are living species. The tree is thus a record of how every species that ever lived is related to all others right back to the origin of life….

We now know that this is exactly what happens. As more and more genes were sequenced, it became clear that the patterns of relatedness could only be explained if bacteria and archaea were routinely swapping genetic material with other species – often across huge taxonomic distances – in a process called horizontal gene transfer (HGT).

At first HGT was assumed to be a minor player, transferring only “optional extra” functions such as antibiotic resistance. Core biological functions such as DNA replication and protein synthesis were still thought to be passed on vertically. For a while, this allowed evolutionary biologists to accept HGT without jeopardising their precious tree of life; HGT was merely noise blurring its edges. We now know that view is wrong. “There’s promiscuous exchange of genetic information across diverse groups,” says Michael Rose, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Irvine….

The neat picture of a branching tree is further blurred by a process called endosymbiosis. Early on in their evolution, eukaryotes are thought to have engulfed two free-living prokaryotes. One of these gave rise to the cellular power generators called mitochondria while the other was the precursor of the chloroplasts, in which photosynthesis takes place. These “endosymbionts” later transferred large chunks of their genomes into those of their eukaryote hosts, creating hybrid genomes. As if that weren’t complicated enough, some early eukaryotic lineages apparently swallowed one another and amalgamated their genomes, creating yet another layer of horizontal transfer (Trends in Ecology and Evolution, vol, 23, p 268).


In other words, germs could take whole DNA sequences from other living things such as a snake and then transfer them, intact, to say, an elephant!  Interesting information here!  Since all living things have evolved while these swap meets from the single-celled creatures reshuffled genes, this increases the idea that we are all related, top to bottom.  An idea I absolutely adore.


We didn’t spring from the mud!  I am relieved.  Nor from Adam’s rib.  We evolved from and with and alongside and THANKS TO the germ community!  HAHAHA.  I love it!  Germs are our gods, our creators!  And well should it be: they are also the Elders.  And they made our lives possible.  They help us digest food.  They created the very nature of the cells of all of our biomass.  These cells are not complete things but a mishmash of all sorts of living creature that swam in the oozing watery mess of the early earth!


Far from feeling diminished, to know that the least is as powerful a force in our evolution and who are still forcing evolution along, deep inside of us, fills me with happiness!  We are One with the Universe, We are the Biosphere!  







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Filed under evolution, nature


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  2. Pingback: A MILLION YEARS OF PELVIC THRUSTS « Culture of Life News | dnacomponent.com

  3. Simon

    Germs must serve some purpose after all, apart from beer.
    And virus is just a quick acting form of bacteria

  4. billibaldi

    In every corner of the planet Earth we have found bacteria. Life is ubiquitous. Alleluia!

  5. emsnews

    Yes, beer drinking evolved because the beer germs just had to insert the proper code in us and voila! Humans work very hard to create a bacterial-friendly environment and even ship it all over the world. Great scheme! The plots of single celled critters is beyond amazing. Bow down to our real gods!

  6. GK

    Prince Virus.


    Prince Philip, in his Foreward to If I Were an Animal – United Kingdom, Robin Clark Ltd., 1986

    ” I just wonder what it would be like to be reincarnated in an animal whose species had been so reduced in numbers than it was in danger of extinction. What would be its feelings toward the human species whose population explosion had denied it somewhere to exist…. I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus.”

  7. Zorro

    I was driving just outside London and stumbled on
    Darwin’s home. I saw where he used to pace constantly
    in his back yard. There was a bust of him on the back
    porch and it was an image without his beard. I was
    shocked because without his beard his head had the
    shape of a monkey skull. It was incredible. I thought
    perhaps as a child he might have gotten an idea of
    our evolution from apes from his own image in the mirror.
    Survival of the fittest is really survival of the most adaptable.

  8. I have a theory that is related to this in some way. Maybe, I have been lucky, but ever since I have had a not-so-small compost bin — big enough that I can get in the bin pysically if necessary when I need to turn the compost — I have not had one cold nor the flu or any other “bug-type” malady that affected me such that I couldn’t go about my day-to-day business (I did badly sprain my side of my foot, step on glass, and break(??) my big right toe, but all that shit was my own fault). Anyhow, I made my bin several years ago using 4 wooden pallets (got em for free from Home Depot), some left over OSB board (front and back), plus some left over formica sheeting.
    I encourage everyone to have a compost bin. This year I am having excellent success because when I turned the compost yesterday, I was quite pleased to see all of the earth worms that were there. They weren’t moving around much (its cold even in the bin just now), but the bin generates some of its own heat and thats enough for these worms. I suspect when the Spring comes these worms are gonna be ready to get into the ground and start munching.
    Also, I think these earth worms are way better than the worms that come out of beetle-rolled dung piles. Anyhow, I heard some of the dung beetles have “suddenly” changed their strategy. Now they are just eating some sort of worm themselves instead of rolling shit around into a big pile. I could write a good story about the first dung beetle (assuming I have my facts correct here) that realized “hey I can just eat one of these little worms that seem to be everywhere, and wow these worms are tasty – I think I might mention this to some of my friends…and so began the evolution of a new type of beetle…

  9. emsnews

    Caves are famous places for forcing evolution forwards, ditto, islands which is why Darwin studied the islands off of Peru so carefully. He used the differences between each island of the same refugee finches to show clearly, how swiftly evolution works and the deep connection between it and the environment.

  10. larry, dfh

    Viruses, IMO, are not proto-bacteria, although they are very ‘simple’ in their construction. They require all the apparati of life to maintain their existence. They are capable of supplying none of this. This is not a parasitic relationship, as with a fungus/host, but one wherein the virus re-directs the hosts intrinsic processes for its own ends. Thus, they developed after living organisms. A former (and extremely bright) boss told me: a virus is a little piece of life that wraps itself in You and gets away.

  11. larry, dfh

    I am trained as an organic chemist, and believe me, there will never be a human chemist that is anywhere near as good as a fungus is at making complex and amazing molecules. In fact, the most exciting breakthroughs right now are in harnessing actual microbial process, which is an evolutionary advancement over the old hammer-and-tongs methodologies.

  12. Bear of Little Brain

    “In fact, the most exciting breakthroughs right now are in harnessing actual microbial process, which is an evolutionary advancement over the old hammer-and-tongs methodologies.”
    If ever there was a candidate for the Law of Unintended Consequences, that could be it! (Thinking biofuels.)
    There was an old lady that swallowed a fly,
    I don’t know why she swallowed a fly…
    Guess you know the rest. 😉

  13. emsnews

    What, the old lady swallowed a fly and then became a broker at Goldman Sachs? 🙂 Now there is a group of viral- bacterium in a petrie dish from hell!

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