What is a Cro-Magnon man?
Also in this week's column:
- Why are some people more attractive to mosquitos?
- Does eating fish improve brain function?
- How can objects in the same room be different temperatures?
What is a Cro-Magnon man?
Asked by Nikki Jackson of Mosman, NSW, Australia
Cro-Magnon humans are regarded as the earliest form of modern humans. We are their direct descendants. Cro-Magnons lived from about 40,000 to 10,000 years ago.
If you saw a Cro-Magnon walking down the street they would be almost indistinguishable from modern humans. The only differences would be:
- A slightly larger and more muscular body
- A somewhat larger skull and brain
If they wore a business suit and nice hair cut, a Cro-Magnon could possibly sell you a used car.
Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
"Proof" of evolution...
Evolution is a theory, like most of the explanations in the sciences that deal with the past, it is likely to remain a theory (at least without detailed records from a civilization that exists for a few hundreds of millenia), however there is a body of evidence to suggest that it occurs, which has been drawn from direct observations.
Firstly, random mutations causing changes to an organism. In the negative side this could be cancer, or some genetic condition turning up in a person with no family history of that condition.
Secondly, natural selection. This can be seen in many instances, either by the slower of the gazelles being caught by the faster of the cheetahs, or by the oft-quoted example of the peppered moth (which I will not repeat here to save space. Various genetic experiments have proven beyond most doubt that characteristics can be passed on through generations, so it stands to reason that if a trait causes members of a species to survive, then it is more likely to be kept.
Some mutations will have both good and bad factors (such as the one that causes sickle cell anemia, which can provide a resistance to malaria), and therefore the trait will be more likely to be kept under certain stresses (i.e. an area with a high chance of catching malaria) and lost under others.
The simplest example of both these factors in action is in viruses, where mutations to the genes that code for the coating of a virus can make it undetectable by the immune system even if there is a resistance to the virus before the mutation.
While this does not prove that evolution did occur, it shows the mechanisms by which it might occur, and suggests ways for species to become separated (e.g. different beneficial mutations arising in separate populations of the same species).
No, Danny - don't post your email address! There are weird people out there!
As for debate, I find your position somewhat ambiguous. On the one hand you say science has not enough "proof" - implying that with more substantial evidence you might agree with its conclusions, while on the other you say you find it easier to accept explanations in your sacred texts, which are entirely, and by their essential nature, unscientific. A person may prefer to take their notions from sacred texts rather than from research and reason - that is their choice. However, to accuse science of not being rigorous enough in its evidence while at the same time saying that you prefer unscientific sources is intellectually dubious. Which is it? Do you follow reason or faith?
You need to ask yourself these questions - and find an answer - before you can engage in any debate on the matter.
Actually, I reject both ideas and I also reject that evoltuion is a proven fact. If you have a "proof" of evolution I would like to see it. (I realize that it is hard to debate in the comments section of an online article)
I believe in the history of the Bible and that God created the universe and all life in 6 literal days. I would love to debate with you but I am warry of posting my email address in an article that is viewable by the entire world.