Prepare for goalpost moving.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...s-ramidus.htmlThe big news in the journal Science tomorrow is the discovery of the oldest human skeleton--a small-brained, 110-pound female of the species Ardipithecus ramidus, nicknamed "Ardi." She lived in what is now Ethiopia 4.4 million years ago, which makes her over a million years older than the famous "Lucy" fossil, found in the same region thirty-five years ago.
Prepare for goalpost moving.
But Jesus said the world is 6000 years old.
The process they went through to extract and examine the bones is pretty astonishing, reading the article. Painstakingly extracting tiny fragments of incredibly fragile fossils to reconstruct the anatomy over the course of years. Science is ace.
So she was a cheerleader?a small-brained, 110-pound female
This is cool stuff, and I enjoyed reading the article.
But I am curious, what is the practical application of this find? I know it satisfies curiosity. It help answer the question about where we came from. And Im not implying that that isnt enough. But is there any more practical benefit to this find?
Do scientists do it because they are curious, or because they are hoping to somehow improve our lives?
Has there been any practical benefit of Lucy's find 35 years ago?
It's not necessarily to improve lives but just to understand life in general. How we got to where we are, if it can tell us where we're going or show us how to avoid the mistakes of the past, etc. etc.
I don't do palaeoarchaeology but I imagine it's much the same. It's interesting to figure out how evolution works and then try to think about what the next step will be or when.
It's actually a fairly common lament among scientists that people seem to expect scientific progress to provide material improvements to their lives. Aside from the old story about Maxwell's equations and Television (briefly, that 19th century curiosity led to 20th century television in a completely unforseeable way), most scientists want to study things simply because they think it's interesting.
That gets into the whole argument whether we need to have a purpose to pursue science. I think that discovery of our past is enough information in itself. We can gain insight into why exactly we are the way we are. This is more of a validation with hard evidence of something we had theorized many years ago.
Yes, but let's face it, the kind of art the Egyptians preferred in 2200BC is pretty useless knowledge, especially if you automatically assume that a change in that art means some sort of dramatic cultural/sociopolitical shift (which archaeologists looooooove to do). The history is too far back in time to learn anything useful from it (not enough details), and it doesn't even really do much to explain how we got where we are. So unless we find an actual alien docking platform on the great pyramid, this is undoubtedly utterly useless information.
But still cool :)
Only 60 million more years further back to go until the Creationists have the last laugh!
It's possible there are some people who denied that the theory of evolution applied to humans due to (perceived) lack of evidence. If this discovery convinces any of those people, I'd say that it has potential to improve quality of life for, at the very least, people in the US for reasons that are obvious, and veer into P&R territory.
Somewhere someone has plopped down a few million dollars to fund these sorts of projects. I was just curious to see what they were expecting as a return. If its information for informations sake, thats fine.
I understand your point to there being huge debates about these details (among those who are interested) and that there is a huge amount of data out there to dig through. So there is a lot to learn, as in things to figure out. There doesnt seem to be much to learn as in improving the things we do by studying the ancient world. We can study egyptian art to learn how the egyptians made art, but no one is thinking that it is going to advance our collective painting skill are they?
Back on topic I do love the article. The discussion of or ancestors starting to walk upright for food and sex is fasinating. Personally I can admit thaqt were it not for food or sex I would probably never bother walking upright either.
Yes, but was she half-Cylon?
All the time and effort spent on archeology should be spent on inventing the time machine instead.
No, Vixen. But Jakub was being facetious.
Very interesting find. I'm curious about why this disproves the missing link though, rather than BEING the missing link. From the article, I'm assuming that the missing link had to connect us to chimps specifically? Is that just the definition of missing link as it's been used traditionally?
Heh. Yeah. But that's not what they are saying. They are saying it disproves the missing link concept.
Edit: Thread is moving too fast!
Oh. Yeah, the idea that the "missing link" exists as an intermediate step between humans and chimpanzees specifically just betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of evolutionary process and speciation.
I assumed people just meant it as "missing part of the fossil record".
I believe the point is that this fossil is that fossil, although there's the requisite skepticism and question of interpretation. The web article and pictures especially touch on what some of those characteristics are (pelvis, teeth, cranium I believe), but since it's not my field I really can't elucidate. You can pick up the PNAS issue (maybe - individual purchase could be problematic for an academic journal) and try to read more there, or wait for the inevitable scientific american article. I'm sure there'll be a PBS special or somesuch as well.