Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another Course, Another Adventure.

Time does fly doesn't it? Nearly a month has passed since our arrival, and so much has happened as to throw ones perspective off. It goes without saying, that I continue to be amazed here. Our course with Cara and Meave came to an end today, but the amount of information that I feel I have gained is vastly, mind bogglingly huge (much like space, to qoute Douglas Adams). I feel now that I have a much greater understanding of these once distant concepts. The experience of learning here, is far removed from that back home, in the comfort of a classroom. I feel now, that I couldn't have learned this properly anywhere else. I have seen the places that many of these fossils were excavated. Our earliest ancestors and extinct contemporaries were living and breathing right beneath my feet and I have the luck of understanding and studying humanities origins through their remains.
The other day, we heard from Dr. leaky specifically on the discovery and nature of Homo erectus and the "Turkana Boy", but also on the broader subject and nature of paleoanthropology itself. He talked about all of this, all of the science and the technicalities, all of the identification and naming we carry out, is really all to better understand ourselves. What are we and how did we become that way? It is certainly a testament to our constant ability to question and learn, both from what we know to be true and what we think we know to be true. Many problems have been caused by humanity confusing one with the other. Anyway, Dr. leaky had some very interesting points to make and it was obvious that one really should listen and learn from it. As he was speaking, he mentioned once or twice the bias science can hold against certain ideas. In context, this was about human ancestors migrating out of Africa and our origins all pointing back there, which they incontrovertibly do. Still however, the outspoken denial of such an idea can become heated. When first introduced to the scientific world,an all European and all incredibly ethnocentric one at that, the idea of African human origins seemed preposterous. Even genetics points to this outward migration, in all humans. I am rambling on a bit, but I hope that the frustration is obvious. People become confortable and stuck in the idea of perminance, especially of ideas, and it is often very hard to reason otherwise.
On another note, we got to experience the discovery of what we assumed at the time was a hominid fossil with Meave yesterday. We searched around it, up and down the hill and all around looking for more pieces, but none turned up. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm may have been for naught, simply because Dr. Leaky(Richard, not Meave) is convinced it is a crocodile pelvise, not a hominid and given that he is pretty convincing when it comes to these sorts of things, it most likely is. It was disappointing, but perhaps the jurry is still out on that one, we'll see. Maybe next post well know for sure, so try not to hold on to your seats in anticipation.

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