Now and then, a signal rises above the noise. From surprisingly early periods, we encounter special respect for the dead and a sense of the divine. Meanwhile, because we keep finding artifacts and organized activities from earlier periods than "expected," the half human creature we were originally seeking continues to elude us. More.Early human religion: A 747 built in the basement with an X-Acto knife
Whatever these unknown people saw or sensed, many consumed much of their lives celebrating and memorializing it. And yet curiously, instead of getting better at constructing temples, the Göbekli Tepe worshipers grew steadily worse:
The earliest rings are the biggest and most sophisticated, technically and artistically. As time went by, the pillars became smaller, simpler, and were mounted with less and less care. Finally the effort seems to have petered out altogether by 8200 B.C. Göbekli Tepe was all fall and no rise.
Was it a loss of faith? Whether or no, in the words of Göbekli Tepe's discoverer Klaus Schmidt, "Twenty years ago everyone believed civilization was driven by ecological forces. I think what we are learning is that civilization is a product of the human mind." More.Human Origins: The War of Trivial Explanations
The overarching theory in biology has been, for over a century, Darwinian evolution: Natural selection acting on random mutation is the cause of all or most variation in life forms. As anyone who has monitored what the media says over the years will know, all evidence is either interpreted on its terms or ignored. Thus, humans are evolved primates, an unexceptional twig on the tree of life, though like other twigs, we are accidental outliers.
The obvious problems with all of these disunited and discordant theses can be summed up for convenience as: 1) If some aspect of chimpanzee behavior explains matters, why didn't it produce the same result in chimpanzees? 2) If mere advantage (which every primate seeks) explains a development like the human mind, why did only humans experience it? More.Why human evolution happened only once: the question no one has to answer
One recent walk on the wild side is worth noting just for what it shows about how little we really know -- and how much we are willing to believe. Much publicity was given in 2013 to the idea that the differences between humans and chimpanzees arise from humans' hybridization with pigs.
You think this is a joke? Well, yes, but in the current science press it isn't. That is, "humans are probably the result of multiple generations of backcrossing to chimpanzees, which in nucleotide sequence data comparisons would effectively mask any contribution from pig." This hypothesis, offered by geneticist and hybridization specialist Eugene McCarthy, incidentally reveals facts about human anatomy not usually offered as evidence by the proponents of the 98-percent-chimpanzee thesis, who don't seem to be interested in defending themselves against the [pig thesis] More.The Little Lady of Flores spoke from the grave. But said what, exactly?
The key fossil's small brain was taken by many researchers as evidence that the Floresians must be a separate species. That and an odd-shaped wrist bone. But almost immediately, a competing narrative appeared. In November, leading Indonesian scientist Teuku Jacob (1929-2007) announced that the Flores hobbit was an "ordinary human" and "just like us," but possibly with mental defects. Jacob took the bones to his own lab, and returned most of them the following February, amid charges that he had severely damaged them.
He also damaged the orthodox narrative. And Nature wasn't having any of that "just like us" stuff. In March 2005, it triumphantly reported the results of a computer simulation that bolstered the new species claim, in a story titled "Critics silenced by scans of hobbit skull." But the critics' silence did not dispel lingering doubt about "Homo floresiensis."
Concern was raised that the ongoing controversy might be good for creationism. One researcher offered that "we certainly make it easy for them when we have disagreements like this one. I think that a lot of what has been said is going to have to be retracted. Given the amount of media attention, it just makes the field look incompetent." He concluded: "Nobody is on the side of the angels now."
Not even the angels, it seemed. …Note:The Science Fictions – cosmology series is here. The Science Fictions – origin of life series is here.