Saturday, 31 May 2014

13,000-year-old American

Flooded cave hides Naia, a 13,000-year-old American - life - 15 May 2014 - New Scientist

As Francis Collins, himself a Christian, observed in his otherwise quite silly book, The Language Of God, "Young Earth Creationism has reached a point of intellectual bankruptcy, both in its science and in its theology". This point is made forcefully by recent discovery in a submerged cave in Mexico of the 13,000 year-old skeleton of a girl who was about 15 years-old when she died, almost certainly by falling into the hole before it was flooded as sea-levels rose at the end of the last ice-age.

She was found in Hoyo Negro (Black Hole) in the vast complex of caves in the Yucatan Peninsula known as a the Sistema Sac Atun along with the remains of about twenty-six other animals, representing both living and extinct species.

Nicknamed Naia after a mythological Greek water nymph, she is one of the most complete skeletons of an early Native American to be found. She is also the sixth oldest and is telling us a great deal about these earliest colonisers of the New World. Her dental caries suggest she ate an acidic diet of fruit and maybe honey from the surrounding forest rather than being a member of a tribe of big game hunters. Her slight build suggests her diet was deficient in protein and that she went hungry a great deal of the time. Life was by no means easy for these people.

I have not thought there was compelling reason or evidence that the anatomical differences between ancient and modern peoples in the Americas needed to be explained by anything more than evolutionary processes.

David Meltzer, anthropologist,
Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas
Her mitochondrial DNA shows that in her female line she was closely related to the people from Siberia who are believed to have lived in Beringia between Siberia and Alaska when sea-levels were lower and from whom the Native Americans are almost certainly descended, maybe from just a handful of people who migrated either down the coast or across ice-sheets or through a proposed ice-free passage over land. Her long, narrow skull and short facial features are closer to that found in the southern Pacific rim, Africa and Australia rather than being typical of modern Siberians and Native Americans. While these physical features have prompted some to suggest that she may be from an earlier migration and that modern Native Americans may be descendants of later, possibly multiple migrations but DNA is the clincher here. It shows all Native Americans, like Naia, are from Siberia and this in turn suggests the differences in the skull and facial features is due to evolution in America.

So we see how the evidence is continue to pile up against creationism, and especially the Bible-literalist who believe Earth is only a few thousand years old and all people on it are descended from a small family who were the sole survivors of a global flood about 4,000 years ago. Within that model there can be no possible explanation of why a 13,000 year-old skeleton of a girl came to be in a submerged cave in Mexico, why she appears to have had the physical characteristics of people from Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia but the DNA of Siberians and modern Native Americans and none of these are problems for the standard scientific theory of human evolution, a changing Earth with rising and falling sea-levels and changing climate, and above all, environmentally driven evolution or even random genetic drift in the descendants of a small founder population.

And yet, despite this mounting evidence against it, and despite not being able to explain these frequent scientific discoveries without misrepresenting the science, Young-Earth Creationism continue to be the explanation of choice for the Christian political right, for fundamentalist Christian churches and for Islamic clerics of all flavours and a Young-Earth creationist is far more likely to be elected to political office in the USA, the most powerful and economically developed country in the world, than is a scientist who advocates for Darwinian evolution and accepts that Earth is 4 billion years old and exists in a Universe that has existed for 13.82 billion years. Those most capable of assimilating the complex data needed to make major policy decisions are effectively debarred from holding public office because they don't have enough ignorance and don't believe the refuted and absurd Bronze Age myths.

As Francis Collins goes on to say of Young-Earth Creationism, "Its persistence is thus one of the great puzzles and great tragedies of our time".

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1 comment :

  1. You write, Rosa: And yet, despite this mounting evidence against it, and despite not being able to explain these frequent scientific discoveries without misrepresenting the science, Young-Earth Creationism continue to be the explanation of choice for the Christian political right, for fundamentalist Christian churches and for Islamic clerics of all flavours and a Young-Earth creationist is far more likely to be elected to political office in the USA, the most powerful and economically developed country in the world, than is a scientist who advocates for Darwinian evolution and accepts that Earth is 4 billion years old and exists in a Universe that has existed for 13.82 billion years.

    That reminds me of Mitt Romney, the American Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election. He's a Mormon, active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    So he's one fundamentalist (of many) who shouldn't believe in these new findings of a 13,000 year-old skeleton of a girl nicknamed Naia.

    Instead he should continue arguing, like other Mormons, beginning with Joseph Smith, that the Lamanites are the ones identical with the indigenous Americans,

    Read more about the Lamanites here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamanite

    Need I say that scholars outside Mormonism do not accept the Book of Mormon as a valid source of ancient American history?

    Read even more about this Mormon bullshit by clicking this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetics_and_the_Book_of_Mormon .

    BTW: Both of your quotes from Francis Collins and his book The Language Of God absolutely and definitely apply to Mormonism too.

    Quote #1: "Young Earth Creationism has reached a point of intellectual bankruptcy, both in its science and in its theology".
    Quote #2: "Its [i.e. Young-Earth Creationism] persistence is thus one of the great puzzles and great tragedies of our time".

    I couldn't agree more. And neither can you, Rosa (, I "guess").

    ReplyDelete

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