The musings of Mr Monkeysized


Clovis spear heads and land bridges by monkeysized
March 1, 2010, 19:29
Filed under: Uncategorized

Further into the BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects and a Dreadful Website, and I’m onto Clovis spear points on my ipod.

Two monkeysized points present themselves. They can be summed up as spending 0.2 million years evolving on the African savannah, eating beetles and humping, and then expecting to understand how iphones work.

Back to Clovis. Firstly, it demonstrates how difficult it is for us to really understand time. The first object was 2 million years old; the fourth, the Clovis spear head, is 13000. It’s a gloriously disorientating sweep.

Let me fill in the gaps. Humans as we know them now first arrived around 200 000 years ago; we hit upon agriculture something like 20 000 years ago; the Clovis find was slightly later, showing we’d penetrated the Americas; cities and civilisations followed, yet Christ lived around 2000 years ago, much more recently. And then that brings us to the last fifty years, and then the tiny time-frames of the internet, mobile phone, Facebook, blogs and podcasts, all accelerating furiously into the present.

For most of this time we scrubbed around as hunters and gatherers. By the time Sumer came along 7000 years ago with its civilisation (and then lasted 3000…) we had already knocked almost all of humanity’s time on the planet on its head (up to now, anyway…). We are now accelerating at an insane pace. All well and good, but don’t expect us to take it all in. It’s just not monkeysized.

Secondly, they spoke of the land bridge by which the ancestors of the Clovis folk entered North America. Geological time, again, but well within human history, human experience.

Is the fact that we can’t deal with a potentially catastrophic rise in sea levels simply that we cannot conceive of the time scale normally involved with such shifts? Or that those that believe in it find it an enticing picture to believe in without fully understanding it, in the way we tend to believe in ideas that mesmerise us, whether beautiful or terrible?

In short, we’re over-evolved apes who are under-developed to cope with the world that we’ve over-developed yet under-evolved to suit us.

That’s always the problem when for most of human existence we’ve been hunting and gathering in small bands on the African savannah, with little more than thirty years of life expectancy in us. Deep breath.

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