Samstag, 8. August 2009

The Black Skull - A Window Into My Own Ignorance

If there was ever a display that represented the anthropology department at the University of California, Riverside, it is the replica of the Black Skull, a skull of a Paranthropus Aethiopicus, and a Macuahuitl (a large weapon used by Aztecs made of obsidian). When I finally got around to taking a biological anthro course, I was astound at the fact that the Hominidae family was so diverse. There were so many of us way back then in the Plioscene. I was also surprise to know that there was still much controversy about the origin of the genus Homo and the internal classification as a whole. The image of the Black Skull, a primitive fellow with a crest that, no doubt, looked foreign to modern Homo Sapiens, left such a great impression on me as a young scientist. Never in my education was I ever told before this the existence of such an array of proto-human. In fact I wasn't taught much at all. I did have a vague understanding of the formation of the Solar System, the geological history of the earth, and the evolution of life, but that was the gist of it. Understandably, it's only natural for general education to skim on details but I still felt cheated - more so by my teachers. Most of them didn't make the effort to inform me about such things. In fact only a biology teacher, a chem teacher, and a environmental science teacher every brought up evolution as a fact. Many of the others dodged the subject. One, another bio teacher, openly challenged the idea and even went as far as to show movies about 'intelligent design' being 'right.' So I grew up with an accurate depiction of the human evolution process. In fact, I could have sworn up to college, that the evolution of human lacked a lot of evidence, was a single transition from some primordial ape to modern human (with Neanderthals being a direct predecessor of Homo Sapien) and did NOT radiate. I guess there reason for this is easier to refute that image of evolution then it is to refute modern ones with more evidence. I went after all to a largely Christian high school that chastised me for being Buddhist (while other Buddhist chastised me for having an orthodox view of divinity) that was generally hostile to liberal, or scientific knowledge. It wasn't a lost for me as I eventually learned but I can't help pity the other student left behind.

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