Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A nasty and brutish fetish

A recent entry in Futurity (an internet news (?) magazine) is titled "For Early Humans, Life was no Picnic 1.8 Million Years Ago." The article is about some researchers who had mapped the landscape of the Olduvai Gorge during the time a couple of our ancestral human relatives inhabited the region. The short lived (30-40 year life expectancy) and short statured (4.5 to 5.5 feet tall) creatures had extremely hard lives, we are told.

And how do we know this? How do we know their lives were extremely difficult? How do we know life was not, in fact, an actual perpetual picnic for these folks?

Because, despite the fact that food and water were plentiful and shade and shelter were abundant, they had to compete with so many other carnivores for meat.

That’s it.

Life was hard for Paranthropus and Homo habilis because they couldn’t simply grab some McDonalds or pick up a roast for Sunday dinner at the local grocery store.

It’s amazing anyone was able to survive long enough to reproduce. Their populations must have been microscopic and constantly teetering on the verge of extinction. It’s astounding that evolution had anything to work with at all!

It is vitally important that we understand that the lives of our hunter-gatherer ancestors (and contemporaries) were (and are) full of unimaginable hardship and suffering. Hobbes’ view of life outside the warm and protective embrace of civilization has been enshrined—literally, as an idol might be placed in a shrine and regularly showered with offerings and ritual expressions of worship.

It is vitally important that we know this right down to the very fibers of our modern civilized being because it is absolutely not true.

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