"Evolution has a within as well as a without,
taking place on both the physical and psychic levels."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Biodiversity Heritage Library

Age Confirmed for 'Eve,' Mother of All Humans

The father of all men is 340,000 years old

Spears with stone tips used 500,000 years ago

500,000-year-old shell engraved by Homo erectus
challenges previous beliefs about human ancestors

Stone tool discovery pushes back dawn of culture by 700,000 years

For aging hunter-gatherers, hypertension is rare

Hunter-gatherers don’t burn more calories

Dumb Myths About Prehistoric Times

"There are two theories of evolution. There is the genuine scientific theory; and there is the talk-radio pretend version, designed not to enlighten but to deceive and enrage." - Edward Humes

"Variability is not actually caused by man; he only unintentionally exposes organic beings to new conditions of life, and then nature acts on the organization and causes it to vary.

Man can and does select the variations given to him by nature, and thus accumulates them in the desired manner.

Mankind thus adapts animals and plants for his own benefit or pleasure.

Mankind may do this methodically, or he may do it subconsciously by preserving the individuals most useful or pleasing to him without any intention of altering the breed.

It is certain that he can largely influence the character of a breed by selecting, in each successive generation, individual differences so slight as to be inappreciable except by an educated eye.

This subconscious process of selection has been the great agency in the formation of the most distinct and useful domestic breeds.

That many breeds produced by man have to a large extent the character of natural species, is shown by the inextricable doubts whether many of them are varieties or aboriginally distinct species.

There is no reason why the principles which have acted so efficiently under domestication should not have acted under nature.

In the survival of favored individuals and races, during the constantly recurrent struggle for existence, we see a powerful and ever acting form of selection.

The struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of increase which is common to all organic beings.

This high rate of increase is proved by calculation, by the rapid increase of many animals and plants during a succession of peculiar seasons, and when naturalized in new countries.

More individuals are born than can possibly survive.

A grain on the balance may determine which individuals shall live, and which shall die, which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct.

As the individuals of the same species come in all regards into the closest competition with each other, the struggle will generally be most severe between them; it will be almost equally severe between the varieties of the same species, and next in severity between the species of the same genus.

On the other hand the struggle will often be severe between beings remote in the scale of nature.

The slightest advantage in certain individuals, at any age or during any season, over those with which they come into competition, or better adaptation in however slight a degree to the surrounding physical conditions, will, in the long run, turn the balance.

With animals having separate sexes, there will be in most cases a struggle between the males for the possession of the females.

The most vigorous males, or those which have most successfully struggled with their conditions of life, will generally leave most progeny.

Success will often depend on the males having special weapons, or means of defense, or charms; and a slight advantage will lead to victory.

As geology plainly proclaims that each land has undergone great physical changes, we might have expected to find that organic beings have varied under nature, in the same way as they have varied under domestication.

Variabilty in nature can only be explained by natural selection.

How Small Genetic Differences Give Rise to Racial Diversity

Microbial diversity drives multifunctionality in terrestrial ecosystems

Man, though acting on external characters alone and often capriciously, can produce within a short period a great result by adding up mere individual differences in his domestic productions; and everyone admits that species present individual differences.

Besides such differences, all naturalists admit that natural varieties exist, which are considered sufficiently distinct to be worthy of record in systematic works.

No one has drawn any clear distinction between individual differences and slight varieties; or between more plainly marked varieties and sub-species and species.

On separate continents, and on different parts of the same continent when divided by barriers of any category, and on outlying islands, what a multitude of forms exist, which some experienced naturalists rank as varieties, others as geographical races or sub-species, and others as distinct, though closely allied species!

If then, animals and plants do vary, let it be ever so slightly or slowly, why should not variations or individual differences, which are in any way beneficial, be preserved and accumulated through natural selection, or the survival of the fittest?

If man can by patience select variations useful to him, why, under changing and complex conditions of life, should not variations useful to nature's living products often arise, and be preserved or selected?

What limit can be put to this power, acting during long ages and rigidly scrutinizing the whole structure, and habits of each creature, - favoring the good and rejecting the bad?

I can see no limit to this power, in slowly and beautifully adapting each form to the most complex relations of life.

The theory of natural selection, even if we look no farther than this, appears to be in the highest degree probable.

As each species tends by its geometrical rate of reproduction to increase inordinately in number; and as the modified descendants of each species will be enabled to increase by as much as they become more diversified in habits and structure, so as to be able to seize on many and widely different places in the economy of nature, there will be a constant tendency in natural selection to preserve the most divergent offspring of any one species.

Hence, during a long continued course of modification, the slight differences characteristic of varieties of the same species, tend to be augmented into the greater differences characteristic of the species of the same genus.

New and improved varieties will inevitably supplant and exterminate the older, less improved, and intermediate varieties; and thus species are rendered to a large extent defined and distinct(extinct) objects.

Dominant species belonging to the larger groups within each class tend to give birth to new and dominant forms; so that each large group tends to become still larger, and at the same time more divergent in character.

As all groups cannot thus go on increasing in size, for the Earth would not hold them, the more dominant groups beat the less dominant.

This tendency in the large groups to go on increasing in size and diverging in character, together with the inevitable contingency of much extinction, explains the arrangement of all the forms of life in groups subordinate to groups, all within a few great classes, which has prevailed throughout time.

We can to a certain extent understand how it is that there is so much beauty throughout nature; this may be largely attributed to the agency of selection.

That beauty, according to our sense of it, is not universal, must be admitted by everyone who will look at some venomous snakes, at some fishes, and at certain hideous bats with a distorted resemblance to the human face.

Sexual selection has given the most brilliant colors, elegant patterns, and other ornaments to the males, and sometimes to both sexes, of many birds, butterflies, and other animals.

With birds it has often rendered the voice of the male musical to the female, as well as to our ears.

Flowers and fruit have been rendered conspicuous by brilliant colors in contrast with the green foliage, in order that the flowers may be easily seen, visited, and fertilized by insects, and the seeds disseminated by birds.

How it comes that certain colors, sounds, and forms should give pleasure to man and the lower animals, - that is, how the sense of beauty in its simplest form was first acquired, - we do not know any more than how certain odors and flavors were first rendered agreeable."

It can hardly be supposed that a false theory would explain, in a satisfactory manner as does the theory of natural selection, the reason all living things have much in common, in their chemical composition, their cellular structure, their laws of growth, and their liability to injurious influences.

It has recently been objected that this is an unsafe method of arguing; but it is a method used in judging of the common events of life, and has often been used by the greatest natural philosophers.

The undulatory theory of light has thus been arrived at; and the belief in the revolution of the Earth on its own axis was until lately supported by hardly any direct evidence.

It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on to the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life.

We no longer look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as something wholly beyond his comprehension; when we regard every production of nature as one which has had a long history; when we contemplate every complex structure and instinct as the summing up of many contrivances, each useful to the possessor, in the same way as any great mechanical invention is the summing up of the labor, the experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen; when we thus view each organic being, how far more interesting does the study of natural history become!

It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by Law acting around us.

There is grandeur in this view of life with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this Earth has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone. It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the "plan of creation," "unity of design," etc., and to think that we give an explanation when we only restate a fact.

Charles Darwin

geolgical time spiral

"What is wrong with the idea that the Creator forged evolution as an extremely long process in which life forms change over time and positive changes, relative to the environment, increase the chances that a life form will pass on its genes to the next generations.

Something tells me the Creator is not in a hurry." - Steve Paskay

"There are eminent scientists and theologians who, while accepting the established findings of science, from the big bang to the evolution of our species, also perceive creative spirit and palpable compassion within themselves to the extent that they cannot rule out an ultimate divine energy and presence within everything that exists." - Bill McAuliffe

the primate hand

The father of all men is 340,000 years old

Age Confirmed for 'Eve,' Mother of All Humans

DNA analysis suggests there was an Eve, the Mother,
and an Adam, the Father, of all homo sapiens.

We are all just one big happy family !

DNA survey finds all humans are 99.9% the same

Versatility is the hallmark of the primate hand.

With minor variations between species, thirty-five joints accommodate the palm and fingers to branches and objects of all sizes, shapes, and orientations.

Six layers of muscles produce movements that propel the animals and effect gripping patterns used in maintaining feeding and resting positions, securing an infant's hold on its mother, removing parasites from the fur, catching insects, plucking fruits, extracting foods from their source, and positioning objects for tactile, olfactory, and visual scrutiny.

Multiple structural constraints on mobility stabilize joints in regions that are habitually exposed to stresses during these positional and manipulatory activities.

The locations and configurations of these constraints vary considerably among species, as do the relative proportions of hand segments, reflecting the diversity of their locomotor and feeding patterns.

The key to the versatility of primate hands is to be found in the nature of the thumb and the fingertips.

The thumb is structurally and functionally differentiated from the rest of the fingers.

The tips of all five digits are relatively broad, with moist, ridged, sensitive palmar pads that are supported by nails.

The advantages of a grasping hand are most apparent in the levels of the forest where vines, bushes, and the slender upper and outer branches of the canopy offer the least purchase to a paw with claws on the fingertips.

Differentiation of the thumb provides the ability for prehension of objects by one hand.

The variety and skill of prehensile activities depend upon the details of joint structure, the relative length of the thumb and fingers, the sensory nerve supply to the distal digital pads, and the motor control of hand movements by the brain.

human hand

the human hand

The Genetic Archaeology of Race

Stone Age tools took brains, not brawn

Do Races Differ? Not Really, Genes Show

Did ancient hunters throw these stone balls?

Pounding with hand-held hammer stones has possibly been the tool-using and tool-making activity with the greatest frequency and antiquity in hominid evolution.

It is an activity which directs large, repetitive forces toward the central region of the palm.

Production of forceful and accurate blows by a hand-held stone requires control of the hammer stone by firm precision grips which assure both retention of the stone in the hand and fine adjustments in its orientation by the thumb and fingers.

When a mammal is motivated to learn, the brain responds plastically.

Repetitious hand movements actually change brain structure.

As brain maps grow larger individual neurons get more efficient in two stages.

Initially individual neurons within the map grow and became more efficient.
Progressively fewer neurons are required to perform the task as the brain responds.

Stabilization of objects that are held in the other hand and pounded by hammer stones in the production of tools also requires firm precision grips and the ability to vary the orientation of the stone.

The central region of the modern human palm is stabilized, buttressed, and protected against intrinsic and extrinsic forces associated with the grasp and manipulation of stones in pounding by robust bones and a fat-pad.

A secure grasp and controlled maneuvering of stones by the thumb, fingers, and palm are facilitated by a unique pattern of hand proportions and joint-and-muscle configurations that permit cupping of the hand and the formation of a wide variety of grips.

The proportionately long thumb and short fingers with broad fingertip pads are able to maneuver the stones and to hold them firmly, exploiting the leverage of the fingers, or bracing the stones against the palm.

The unique arrangement of intrinsic musculature and orientation of joints along the second, third, and fifth rays, favoring rotation of the fingers, allow optimal positioning of the thumb and fingers for grasping and orienting the stones.

Grips that were found through experimentation to accommodate and control the stones most comfortably and effectively involved primarily the thumb, index, and third fingers.

These included the pad-to-side and three-jaw-chuck thumb/finger grips and extensions of these grips that incorporate the palm as a passive buttress.

The three-jaw-chuck thumb/finger grip is most effective both for wielding hammer stones and for throwing stones.

Stones of about 500 grams, comparable in size to tennis balls, are held by the thumb, index, and third fingers, frequently against the side of the flexed fourth finger which in turn is buttressed by the flexed fifth finger as a support.

The tip of the thumb and index and third fingertips control the orientation of the stone and keep it away from the palm, so that the leverage of these rays is exploited in propelling the stone.

The pressure and leverage of these rays are important factors in controlling the rotation and speed of an object thrown by the hand.

The modern human hand structure of the joints along the fifth ray probably contributes to the effectiveness of the finger/active-palm squeeze grip, which employs all the fingers and active convergence of the palm around a cylindrical tool, such as an antler hammer, to secure it, so that the tool functions as an extension of the hand and/or arm.

The use of small modern tools such as needles and pencils involves the rotation and translation of objects by the pads of the fingertips opposed to the tip of the thumb pad, exploiting a unique human compartmentalization of these pads.

"We could bomb Afghanistan back into the Stone Age, but what
would that set them back, fifteen minutes?" - Argus Hamilton

a mutant primate with a strange DNA

Perspective on Similarities and Differences
among Worldwide Human Populations

When one looks at the chromosomes of humans and the living great apes (orangutan, gorilla, and chimpanzee), it is immediately apparent that there is a great deal of similarity between the number and overall appearance of the chromosomes across the four different species.

There are differences but the overall similarity is striking.

The following observations can be made about similarities and differences among the four species.

The great apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes while humans have only 23 pairs.

Except for differences in non genetic heterochromatin, chromosomes 6, 13, 19, 21, 22, and X have identical banding patterns in all four species.

Chromosomes 3, 11, 14, 15, 18, 20, and Y look the same in three of the four species (those three being gorilla, chimps, and humans), and chromosomes 1, 2p, 2q, 5, 7 - 10, 12, and 16 are alike in two species.

Chromosomes 4 and 17 are different among all 4 species.

Most of the chromosomal differences among the four species involve inversions - localities on the chromosome that have been inverted, or swapped end for end. This is a relatively common occurrence among many species, and has been documented in humans. An inversion usually does not reduce fertility.

Other types of rearrangements include a few translocations (parts swapped among the chromosomes), and the presence or absence of nucleolar organizers. All of these differences can be observed to be occurring in modern populations.

The largest single chromosomal rearrangement among the four species is the unique number of chromosomes (23 pairs) found in humans as opposed to the great apes (24 pairs).

There are two potential naturalistic explanations for the difference in chromosome numbers - either a fusion of two separate chromosomes occurred in the human line, or a fission of a chromosome occurred among the apes.

The evidence favors a fusion event in the human line.

The chromosomes were apparently joined end to end, and the ends of chromosomes (called the telomere ) have a distinctive structure from the rest of the chromosome.

Evidence suggests that the vicinity of chromosome 2 where the fusion is expected to occur, we see first sequences that are characteristic of the pre-telomeric region, then a section of telomeric sequences, and then another section of pre-telomeric sequences.

In the telomeric section, it is observed that there is a point where instead of being arranged head to tail, the telomeric repeats suddenly reverse direction - evidence of fusion.

In chromosomes that have been fused we should see evidence of two centromeres, the distinctive central part of the chromosome.

Evidence of fusion exists as remnants of the 2p and 2q centromeres appear.

Some may raise the objection that if the fusion was a naturalistic event, how could the first human ancestor with the fusion have successfully reproduced?

We have all heard that the horse and the donkey produce an infertile mule in crossing because of a different number of chromosomes in the two species.

Variations in chromosome number are known to occur in many different animal species, and although they sometimes seem to lead to reduced fertility, this is often not the case.

The last remaining species of wild horse, Przewalski's (sha-val-skis) Wild Horse has 66 chromosomes while the domesticated horse has 64 chromosomes. Despite this difference in chromosome number, Przewalski's Wild Horse and the domesticated horse can be crossed and do produce fertile offspring which possess 65 chromosomes.

Another chromosomal rearrangement has recently been discovered, this one shared both by humans and chimpanzees, but not found in any of the other monkeys or apes that were tested.

This rearrangement was the movement of about 100,000 DNA pairs from human chromosome 1 to the Y chromosome10.

unique library index

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