Week 2 – blog post

It is amazing the amount of things we can figure out by looking at a few bones; add some clothing and weapons or pottery and the things anthropologists can infer increases exponentially. Because of how skilled anthropologists have become at looking at the remains and artifacts left by Homo sapiens’ early ancestors, we can actually tell a lot about early peoples.

 

By the look of things, modern humans are actually quite a bit like our ancestors. True, mankind in general has gotten rather lazy… especially in America where we have such a high obesity rate. Instead of running around hunting game and following herds like early humans, we live much more sedentary lives.

 

But everything we do “know” about our earliest ancestors is just guesswork, educated guesswork, but still just guesses. Unless we could actually go back in time and watch everything, we can’t be completely sure how people lived. The anthropologic finds that we have are wonderful, but we shouldn’t generalize to an entire species when we’ve found so few remains. In the future if Homo sapiens’ descendants try and figure out how we lived we wouldn’t want them to look at a few peoples belongings and generalize to everyone else.

 

Another problem is that we don’t actually know our direct line of descent from Sahelanthropus tchadensis. While I agree that there are many similarities between modern humans and our early ancestors, I wish there weren’t so many gaps in the Hominid family tree. And not just because I would like to “know” where humans came from, but also because it leaves openings for frauds like Charles Dawson with the Piltdown Man hoax. However, if scientists had studied the fossils right away they would have found out that the bones were stained using an iron solution to make them look the correct age, and that the remains didn’t follow the evolutionary path of early humans. It seems like everyone was just so excited about finding a “missing link” in the human fossil record that they took Dawson at his word.

 

It is clear to me that Homo sapiens evolved from something else, I just wish we could be sure what it was.