ET please call home!
(by Warren W. Evans)
A few weeks ago, I was having lunch at a seniors’ centre in the town of Aurora, north of Toronto (Canada). I have never been one to eavesdrop, but I just couldn’t avoid overhearing a conversation among a foursome at the table next to me. Although I cannot repeat verbatim her precise words, one of the more astute ladies raised the following general thought-provoking comments.
“Did you know that because of computers it has now been proven that all languages originated from one language ... and that DNA testing has proven that we did not descend or evolve from Neanderthal man? Fits in with the theory that man as we know him appeared all at once, looking the way he looks today. From where? From the heavens! Theory has it that we came from another planet, either as a sent experiment, or escaping some natural disaster. Natives in New Guinea still watch the heavens for the return of ‘somebody’– obvious inherited behaviour still going on today among primitive tribes.”
For me, personally, these topics are fascinating and titillate my good common sense. Of course it would have been immensely rude to have invited myself to join in on a private conversation (I was just a visitor to the centre). However, I did manage to momentarily catch the lady’s eye. I just slowly shook my head and winced. But her comments I cannot leave unchallenged. Therefore, and although she may never read this, I write the following letter to the misdirected lady up in Aurora:
I agree “we did not descend or evolve from Neanderthal man.” Most, if not all anthropologists and contemporaries in related fields (e.g. Paleontologists) concur with this, and have for several years, the sound reasons for and on which I shall expound. Nevertheless, this is not a new revelation. However, by projection, this in no way implies that in the alternative some galactic aliens, eons ago, plopped a pair of their fleshy concoctions onto this planet to grow, evolve and multiply. More apt to believe would I that a new species of grubby, eyeless humanoids are on the verge of emerging from the New York sewer system to slither and slime their way across the length and breadth of North America. Or, perhaps we all come from the “stork” after all, and pregnancy and childbirth are just absurd figments of our imaginations?
Among us humans, the all time enemy of knowledge has always been irrationalism. Our minds firmly fasten upon a scope of general conclusions, and with such readiness that it leaves us “dangling in the dark” with the considerations of unconnected and disconnected “truths.” Dare I suggest that the “Holy” Bible is based to a large degree on “hearsay” and “imaginations?” I shan’t be burned at the stake for heresy these days, just shunned. As stated in that famous song from The Sound of Music: “Let’s Start at the Very Beginning.”
The “very beginning” for human mammals is known to be this basic fact, upon which most, if not all, scientists agree these “modern” days: Around 2.5 million years ago, in Africa, “Homo” evolved from one of the smaller-brained, bipedal man-apes called “Australopithecus.” In short, all modern humans, or any sub-branched offshoots that lived and died-out in the distant past, are rooted in the African Savannas: The true “Garden of Eden,” if you will!
For some 50,000 years, two radically different types of humans lived side-by-side, but did not interbreed (more on that later). Nevertheless, DNA found in the mitochondria of modern human cells (but, by the way, only in the female) concludes irrefutably that all humans can trace their ancestry to a “woman” who had lived in Africa, only some 200,000 years earlier.
A million years ago, or so (eons after Brontosaurus and their ilk had disappeared apparently as the ultimate result of a wayward asteroid smashing into the Yucatan Peninsula), ancient “humans” and many other mammals, foraging for food, etc., eventually made their way up and out of Africa. They travelled through, but also settled in the caves of Mount Carmel in the Levant (in modern day northwest Israel). But bear in mind that these humans (such as they were at that time) did not all leave Africa in Pied-Piper-of-Hamelin fashion, and we talk of countless “centuries” here. Those who remained (hoards of them did!), would evolve differently over the centuries from those who left.
On a smaller (time-wise), modern-day scale, one readily sees and confirms how environmentally induced mutation can easily take place over an appropriate period of time within pockets of humans isolated one from the other: Caucasians vs. Orientals! Blacks vs. Whites!
Hypothetically isolate groups of humans for say … 100,000 years in a different climate with different food sources. At the end of this period, allow them to rejoin the original clan and then contrast and compare their appearances to the originals. Each group would be shocked to the withers and undoubtedly would find the “others” ugly, perhaps deem them inferior.
Those who left Africa, and filtrated into many parts of Europe, eventually became what we now call “Neanderthals.” We know from their significant skeletal differences that they possessed brute strength compared to modern humans (but Neanderthals are still “humanoid”). A Neanderthal strutting around in this year 2006 would be a “Hulk Hogan” multiplied several times, notwithstanding having shorter stature. Perhaps, and out of necessity, they had evolved better physically equipped to even the odds and to wrestle to the ground some of the more manageable prey, rather than do them in with spears, or the like. Only “evolution” knows for certain.
Eventually (over centuries) the left-behinds in Africa caught up to and lived alongside, so to speak, the “Neanderthals.” Now the big question: If some Neanderthals did indeed live in the same general areas (proven because both skeletons, radiocarbon dated, have been found, and are still being found, in Mount Carmel regions (roughly the size of Nova Scotia), why then did they not intermingle and interbreed -- especially when, in fact, they did cohabit for tens of thousands of years? After all, we humans just love to mate, particularly the young among us. We mate constantly night and day and through all phases of the female’s reproductive cycle. Furthermore, and if given the opportunity, humans around the globe will mate with any other human! Racial barriers are apt to quickly melt away when sex is in the offering.
Thus, with this biological trait in full and good working order over the mass of centuries, and presumably at the time in question, why in the heck did Neanderthals not mate with the other species of humans, their contemporaries? In fact (indicated from paleoanthropoligical studies - whew!), the Neanderthals stayed staunchly to themselves, and vice versa! Why?
The latest theory (widely accepted now and no “computer is required to support this) is that they were reproductively a completely incompatible and separate species. Yes, equally “human” perhaps (both had their stirrings thousands of years earlier on those African savannas), but very much biologically distinct one from the other. Two separate species that just happened to be “human” living at the same time, and often in the same places. Comparatively, the racial disparities between modern humans would be scant worth mentioning! More appropriate it would be to compare a chimpanzee with a gorilla – both covered-with-hair primates, but with no interbreeding and one physically far more powerful than the other.
So now, dear lady up in Aurora (mustn’t forget to whom this essay is directed), further picture if you will two fully sentient species milling about and pressed into one place, but yet as mindless of each other as two types of birds (say a starling and a robin) sharing the same bird feeder in your backyard. They are reproductively isolated, which means that a particular species mates with nothing else than its own kind. Per Ma nature, these are necessary evolutionary barriers – isolating mechanisms, as it were – that prevent species from wanton interbreeding and producing a rather crippling organic soup.
A dog is lured to a bitch in heat, but that same odiferous chemical, which is surely detected by neighbouring squirrels, cats or even “horny” teenagers (arming them momentarily with heightened olfactory senses), has only a passing effect. But any male dog in its prime is in a panic! A female bird of one species hears the song of the male of another species, but she responds not at all! We humans do not react, for ultimate purposes of mating and propagation, to any possible scent of human females in estrus (nothing has ever wafted in my direction), nor to any high-decibel mating calls – although “Tarzan” gave it the ol’ college try. So then … what is it?
In humans, what attracts or lures the eye most of all is the face. The biologically imbedded mate-recognition system for humans is overwhelmingly and initially visual! With no deliberate attempt to be pedantic here, Yeats wrote: “Love comes in at the eye.” Faces are exquisitely expressive human instruments betraying interest, fear, suspicion, joy, contentment, doubt, surprise and innumerable other emotions. Look at the lengths to which various cultures go to embellish that which the evolutionary process already put in place. It is, one could say, the full force of the human countenance which is a biological turn on (or off) for normal humans. I will now attempt to put all this into the context of that long ago environment when the Neanderthals lived alongside that other species of humans (us!).
Today, comparing only the skull of the Neanderthals to that of their contemporary “humans” (Cro-Magnon), one immediately sees a dramatic difference. Neanderthal has greater browridges, a higher forehead, lower and squarer eye orbits and hollowed-out cheeks (more muscle area for greater torque in biting and chewing) and a forward-thrusted face. Build a “computer face” around these two skulls and the results are dramatic, almost like placing a gorilla alongside a present day human. No love lost here! One’s own kind attracts one’s kind.
And in humans it is the “eyes” which decide it all (i.e. initially), and not any natural chemical scent. Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals would not have been physically attractive one to the other. Damned if I’d mate with a gorilla, especially when there exists a bounty of general look-alikes – mate recognition! Conversely, a male gorilla would prefer to have his lady covered from head to toe with wiry black hair, and with a nose “only a mother could love.” We’d tolerate each other, but no interbreeding, save for the odd “weirdo.” Also, and although it cannot be perfectly proven (skeletons are completely devoid of human tissue), there might have been a difference in the shape and size of the genitals. “Square pegs in round holes” syndrome, although a hyperbole. This has also been hypothesized.
Another story unto itself is why the Cro-Magnons (us!) out-survived the Neanderthals. Suffice to say that they were eventually out-competed and out-witted by the more “intellectual” and diversified Cro-Magnons. To put it another way, the Cro-Magnons developed a more efficient “technology of life” to take over the survival role previously provided by brute strength.
There is no gene similarity (other than from that ancient African “woman”) between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals because they simply evolved along a different ancestral lineage, eking out an existence apart and separate from each other and with no general interest or desire to inter breed. Therefore, of course: “… DNA testing has proven that we did not descend or evolve from Neanderthal man.” Nor, for that matter, we from them! No sex, no mixing of genes. We evolved separately as Cro-Magnons, but nevertheless having that ancient African “humanoid” lady as our common ancestor.
We and the Neanderthals were biologically different, but we shared in that long ago past, on the African savannas, the same grandmother. She, in turn, came neither from the “heavens,” nor from some other planetary system in some other galaxy impossible light-years away (nor did her “children” the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons), but from a branch, a slow moving “evolutionary twig”– an offshoot of the African primates. We are today “modern humans” ruled by our self-consciousness and awareness, but underneath it all, fish, reptile and mammal are still very much represented.
Dear lady in Aurora, if the “impossible” had occurred and “man as we know him appeared all at once, looking the way he looks today” (a far-fetched notion!), then it is utterly inconceivable that he would be tailor-made – physically pre-equipped to live in this “quirky” atmosphere and on the terrain of the planet Earth. Am I therefore expected to believe that this species “from another planet” coincidentally came equipped with lungs to breathe the exact mixture of oxygen and the other atmospheric ingredients indigenous to our planet? In that case, I might also believe that the entire moon will explode tomorrow!
Also (and I’m sure you’ve given this fact scant thought), your extra-terrestrial based “human” had/has many genes which compare to the pre-existing primates. What a feat! Furthermore, it had ears, a nose and two eyes just like most other Earth mammals, similarly reproduced by sexual liaison -- a sperm uniting with an ovum! Was a mysterious order sent out eons ago to the far reaches of the Universe for the delivery of a highly specialized pair of critters (an “Adam and Eve”) to this speck of a planet we now call “Earth?” Had a different order been placed for the Dinosaurs, which pre-existed primates? Absurd!
If aliens had left us here as an “experiment” (and we were irrefutably once-upon-a-time “primitive”), would they not reasonably have toyed with some of the other millions of forms of life on earth? Sorry, ma’am, but Evolution supports otherwise.
If these “extraterrestrials” had the incredible technology to even reach our solar system (and we are the only intelligent life in ours), and if they came or were sent as an “experiment,” then when will they inform us that their experiment was either a success or an abject failure? Why haven’t they (over the “eons”) handed down some of their technology to us in a real and palpable way? Answer: They were never here in the first place!
Too much credit do we humans give to possible other life forms in the cosmos that they would think, behave, breathe, or even care as we do. It’s an absurd form of anthropomorphism and wishful thinking! Of course, this is not at all to imply that the rest of the vast Universe is void of biological life.
But regarding those superstitious natives in New Guinea watching “the heavens for the return of ‘somebody,’” I highly doubt if they are truly hoping for the “return of somebody.” [Perhaps they’re checking out the local weather?] Or, if they are, stiff necks will be part of their heritage for centuries to come. Human superstition and myths among human sub-cultures (especially) play a major role in their day-to-day lifestyles. If the weather is unkind and destructive, it’s some “god” (who must somehow be appeased) releasing his anger at a particular tribe – similarly, with volcanoes, droughts and so on.
For most of us humans, gazing toward the heavens is a pastime of no consequence other than raising in our minds a host of mostly unanswerable questions regarding the cosmos. No mystical alien will return. No alien has ever been here. No irrefutable proof! Our own isolated Milky Way Galaxy may be teeming with “life” (personally, I do believe this), but not necessarily, and odds against, “technological” life. Dinosaur-like creatures, on planets millions of light years from Earth, wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell communicating with us. Nor we with them!
Consider that for some 165 million years Brontosaurs, and related creatures, completely dominated the earth. During this entire mind-blowing amount of time, not one single human-being existed anywhere on the globe! What was “God” up to? Nevertheless, did these terrestrial giants – Dinosaurs and their ilk – attempt to contact other civilizations in the Universe? Of course not, impossible! Nor were they craning their long craggy necks hoping to sight aliens. Stay alive, eat, mate, tend to their eggs and young, that’s all they cared about. Likewise, it just might be with other life forms on some distant world light years away.
SETI, with its vast array of discs and computers working round the clock, has thus far found no traces of “technological” life emanating from deep space. But then what chance in hell would bacterium, or some unimaginably weird grasshopper-like creature, on an equally weird planet whizzing around another star (sun) among billions of others at the other side of just our own Milky Way galaxy have in contacting us? Zero! Nevertheless, they are life forms.
To that dear lady in Aurora, Ontario, could I respectfully suggest that you have your computer checked for a “virus,” or perhaps an alien?
Meanwhile, ET please call home. We’re all waiting!
– Warren W. Evans (Cro-Magnon) –