Friday, October 26, 2012

Two Legged-ness and Nesting

     Lucy's earlier relative Salem, I am told, was about three years old when she succumbed.  But when imagination is addressing creatures, who lived upon this earth over three million years ago, there are always a number of interpretations, followed by reinterpretations, followed by vigorous debate.  Salem could have been three and half or five years old when she died.  But clearly both Lucy and Salem walked upright.  These early people did not have to use their arms as a second pair of legs when moving across open ground, and the evidence for this is deduced from the structure of what is called a Lumber Curve.  Which is a curve in the spine from just above the bottom, or buttocks,  to around where the ribs begin.  This sometimes seductive curve is also the reason for that most irritating expression "lift with your legs."   And let's leave aside the moaning and groaning about whether Lucy and Salem were people, because that starts tirade and tangent and long winded-ness which ends with angry discussion on whether Felis Domesticus is a distinct species, or pretty much like any other cat only sneakier and more manipulative.   And let's try hard to avoid thinking about sinus ailment and other sacrifices our species have had to make in their ludicrous pursuit of two legged-ness.  Instead let's enter the debate on the more serious question of whether the generations of Lucy and Salem, when at the end of their day, tired from foraging, would climb into trees and there, use their hands to build a nest large and strong enough to sleep and cuddle in.
       I'm a proponent of the nesting idea.  It's clear to me that nesting was and still is a principle preoccupation of our species.  I am very certain that little Salem would scurry around looking for twigs, dried grasses, vines and offer up other suggestions.  And in her mind she would tell herself, "One day I too will build a nest."  And had she lived a few years longer she might even have reached that point where her imagination decided, "My nest is bigger than your nest."  Those who have a contrary opinion to mine, and I regret to say there are still a few of them, would disagree.  The likes of Salem and Lucy, they argue, had already been walking around upright for millions of years, and were more likely to have fully adapted to the role of ground dweller.  Certainly, they continue to argue, the similarity between Salem's  scapular, her shoulder blade, or what I call 'my wing,' to that of a tree climbing Gorilla, gave Salem a good ability to climb trees.  But, they argue, because of those millions of years of two legged uprightness,  if Salem was a 'tree climber' she was a 'tree climber in emergency,'  rather than a 'tree climber' by 'adaption to living in trees.'  A pretty bloody vacuous opinion in my view.  Nor is their use of the word "it"  when referring to Salem and Lucy, helpful to my understanding of this contrary opinion. I do understand it's an attempt to avoid any sort of personal association or bias or emotional relapse.  It's a search for a more empirical clarity, but it's a little like calling the condemned man an "it" before plunging the needle into his arm. And too, it's that sort of empiricism that redefines an understanding of gratitude and replaces it with, I don't know, something like the blindness of a Private Equity Fund.


Gin said...

Ever wonder what an Australopithecus would think if you could stand before him/her? My, how weird WE would look!

tim candler said...

I'd wear a bow tie for the occasion, Gin. And I would certainly take one of your baskets with me into the time machine.

Gin said...

A bow tie would certainly be appropriate, but somehow, Tim, I just can't picture you wearing one. Perhaps one day when I come to visit, you can surprise me?