Today I thought I’d roll out a new feature. Well, two, really. One – “Trial Tuesdays” – is establishing that on Tuesdays every now and then I’ll try out new features. So that’s sort of a tautology. The other, though, is the feature I’d like to try today and that is homework.
Yes, sounds like a horrible idea, doesn’t it? We’ll give it a try. The idea is, I will present to you a topic that’s very much up for discussion ahead of time and give you a couple of leads and then when I write about it the next day, you can feel a bit more informed to discuss it in the comments if you so choose. It’s meant to be an act of encouraging discussion as a means of encouraging critical thinking. If it works it will probably most likely pop up on Sundays when I don’t have a guest author to prepare you for a topic I’ll discuss on Mondays. For now, though, I’ll do it today to talk about tomorrow’s topic. Which is…
Also known as the “Denisova hominin,” the X-woman is based on discovery of a finger-bone and subsequent sequencing of mitochondrial DNA from that sample that could – based on one interpretation – indicate that she is of a previously-undiscovered species of the Homo genus that existed along-side Homo sapiens. So far Neanderthals are the only species we’re certain did just that and, while consensus is greater now than ever that H. floresiensis was a unique species, the issue is still far from a closed-case and there is as of yet no evidence they interacted with modern humans in the same way Neanderthals are known to have; they might have been geographically isolated for the duration of their existence as a species.
So this is a Really Big Deal for Paleontology, this finger bone, and no one with letters behind his or her name who digs in the dirt for a living is being allowed to stay neutral on this one. Which is sort of how science works. And so I’d like to talk about it. Fortunately for me, Carl Zimmer has already encapsulated the controversy in one post. He’s good like that, what with the writing and all. It’s pretty dense for Biology laypersons but if you can glean a thing or two then you might be able to see things in a way I haven’t thought about.
So give it a whirl. Look into it a bit, sleep on it, and tomorrow – probably around 11 or noon Eastern since I’m still not quite caught up (believe it or not I’ve got one of them Day Jobs, too, and taking yesterday off meant extra work today) – I’ll post my thoughts on it and you can say what you think – even if it’s not necessarily about the science but more about what the discovery means to how we perceive ourselves as a unique species – and we can all pretend we’re grown-ups on the Internet. Or I can link to more videos combining Star Trek references and fart jokes. Really, I’m cool with it either way.('’) delicious