News Stories

We've Discovered a New Ancestor

An analysis of 2 million-year-old bones that were found in South Africa in 2008 identifies the transitional figure that came before modern humans--the best candidate for the original ancestor of the human line. This is something archeologists have been researching for years. The brain, hand and foot have characteristics of both modern and early pre-human forms, revealing that a transition was under way. This creature was small, the size of a chimpanzee, but with a configuration more human than a chimp, particularly a larger brain cavity behind and above the eyes.

The Fox News website quotes researcher Richard Potts as saying, "It's as if evolution is caught in one vital moment, a stop-action snapshot of evolution in action. It will take a lot of scrutiny of the papers and of the fossils by more and more researchers over the coming months and years, but these analyses could well be 'game-changers' in understanding human evolution."

Evolution didn't just happen in the past--it's happening right now, and evidence of this can be found in big cities, like New York (NOTE: "Hybrids is one of the books you can get from the Whitley Strieber Collection, and it comes with an autographed bookplate designed by Whitley!) When a team of field biologists rode the subway to a rubbish-strewn park uptown, they knew just what to look for--and they found it: familiar plants, animals and insects that had adapted to their new environment. They found freakish poison ivy plants with leaves the size of a man's hands embedded in chunks of discarded concrete.

In the July 26th edition of the New York Times, Carl Zimmer writes: "White-footed mice, stranded on isolated urban islands, are evolving to adapt to urban stress. Fish in the Hudson have evolved to cope with poisons in the water. Native ants find refuge in the median strips on Broadway. And more familiar urban organisms, like bedbugs, rats and bacteria, also mutate and change in response to the pressures of the metropolis. In short, the process of evolution is responding to New York and other cities the way it has responded to countless environmental changes over the past few billion years. Life adapts.

"White-footed mice live today in forests from Canada to Mexico. They arrived in the New York City region after ice age glaciers retreated 12,000 yerars ago. In the past few centuries, as their forest home became a city, they survived in New York's patches of woods. (House mice, which New Yorkers battle in their apartments, arrived with European settlers.)

Research by Dr. Munshi-South and his colleagues suggests that New York’s white-footed mice, which occupy isolated patches, are adapting to life in the city." Zimmer quotes team member Paolo Cocco as saying, "They are New Yorkers, after all."

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It seems logical to surmise that if species were so adaptable to environs that the human may develop abilities to adapt to the stress of city/metro life to the point of being mostly numb to the "natural" world. Maybe this is actually ocurring in many areas. We adapt to the 9'to5 corporate survival only to miss out on the real goal of life. How sad. We're most to be pitied on this planet.

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