Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Nov 24, 2009

Monkey, Man, Fossils and reading in toilets regularly

Celebrating Darwin

Many events took place on and around 12 February 2009, which was 200 years since Darwin was born.
Today is another important anniversary on 24 November – 150 years since the publication of his famous book, On the Origin of Species.  (We may also salute Alfred Russel Wallace, an English naturalist who published essentially the same theory on the same day as Darwin, and therefore deserves to be remembered as the co-discoverer of evolution)
Humans and chimps had a common ancestor about 7 million years ago; our genes are about 98.5 percent alike. Our last common ancestor with the fungi appeared more than 500 million years ago, yet about half of our genes are also found in fungi. Why? Because once nature solves a problem, it hoards the genes for that solution. (You can read more of this stuff at
"Lucy," an Australopithecus afarensis skeleton found in Ethiopia in 1974, is an extinct hominid that lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago. Lucy (left)  is one of the "missing links" that illustrate the descent of modern humans.

Still, a near-majority of Americans tell researchers  that they believe the first humans were created less that 10,000 years ago, which follows Genesis ( religious literature)  more closely than science.  In 2002, the school board in Cobb County, Georgia, began to require this warning on textbooks. A court has ordered the stickers to be removed, saying religion has no place in public schools.

Since writing of The Origin of Species, in 1859, however, many fossils have been found. …. Darwin’s dilemma was the absence of intermediate fossils to show evolution from a common ancestor. These researchers have put one more nail in the coffin of Darwin’s and actually deepen Darwin’s dilemma. 

Oldest Skeleton of Human Ancestors Found,write Jamie Shreeve  Science editor, National Geographic magazine on October 1, 2009.

 Scientists today announced the discovery of the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor. The find reveals that our forebears underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution more than a million years before Lucy, the iconic early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3.2 million years ago. The centerpiece of a treasure trove of new fossils, the skeleton—assigned to a species called Ardipithecus ramidus—belonged to a small-brained, 110-pound (50-kilogram) female nicknamed "Ardi."

The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin's time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link—resembling something between humans and today's apes—would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree. Indeed, the new evidence suggests that the study of chimpanzee anatomy and behavior—long used to infer the nature of the earliest human ancestors—is largely irrelevant to understanding our beginnings.

By the way, FOSSIL  is a  remnant or trace of an organism of a past geologic age, such as a skeleton or leaf imprint, embedded and preserved in the earth's crust.[From Latin fossilis, dug up, from fossus, past participle of fodere, to dig.]
Fossils have become a very interesting subject for me (one who did not graduate in science). Wish to know why? Then, read on:

Bill Bryson writes - AS ALWAYS - VERY VERY LUCIDLY ON THIS DULL AND DEAD SUBJECT  in “ A Short History of Nearly everything” :

In order to become a fossil, several things must happen. First you must die in aright place….. must become buried in a sediment where it can leave an impression,….or decompose without exposure to oxygen, permitting the molecules in its bones and hard parts ( and very occasionally softer parts) to be replaced by dissolved minerals, creating a petrified copy of the original. Then as the sediments in which the fossil lies are carelessly pressed and folded and pushed about by the earth’s processes, the fossil must somehow maintain an identifiable shape. Finally, but above all, after tens of millions or hundreds of millions of years hidden away, it must be found and recognized as something worth keeping.
Only about one bone in a billion, it is thought, ever becomes fossilized. If that is so, it means that the fossil legacy of all the Americans alive today- that is 270 million people with 206 bones each – will be only about 50 bones, one quarter of a complete skeleton. .… Bearing in mind that they can be buried anywhere within an area of slightly over 9.3 million sq. kms, little of which will ever be turned over, much less examined, it will be something of a miracle if they were ( found out)”

And if this post has become a heavy stuff, there is an inspiring, weird news report published today ( and one is at liberty to draw life-lessons there from as it suits him or her!)

Darwin book worth up to $100,000 found on shelf of a toilet

Tue Nov 24, 2009

LONDON (Reuters) – 

A first edition of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species," which had been kept in a toilet bookcase for years, will go on sale this week and is expected to fetch 40-60,000 pounds (US$66-100,000).
Christie's auctioneer will offer the book on Tuesday, the 150th anniversary of its original publication.
The copy was bought by the family of the current owners for "a few shillings" in the late 1960s or early 1970s, the auctioneer said.
They only recognized that they owned such a valuable edition when they recognized a picture of the spine of another first edition of the work at a Darwin exhibition.