Origin of the species at Redpath Museum

Redpath Museum. Photo by Torsten Bernhardt.

Redpath Museum. Photo by Torsten Bernhardt.

One of the things that all schoolchildren find fascinating is the origin of our species through evolution.  It is no accident that we share four limbs, two eyes, two ears, and so forth with, for example, our brother and sister species of dogs and cats.  We are very closely related.  If we look back far enough, we can see how we are related to fish and plants.  But there is an earlier point at which we can look back and say, OK, that is when and where we started, these are modern people like you and me.  Picking where modern people started is of course arbitrary, but doing so provides a way to express those values to which we aspire, and what it means to be human.   For example, picking as modern people our early progenitors who only had stone tools does not ring true.  Perhaps a good time to pick is around 50,000 years ago when art, painting, jewelry and ritual gifts became widespread.  It is easy to imagine those people in communities with love and faith and bickering, with families of respectful and disrespectful spouses, children, and pets.  It is easy to imagine those people as the mothers and fathers of our modern age, as we are little different inside, notwithstanding our rocket ships, our color TVs, and other innovations. (more…)

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