Thursday, September 5, 2013
What is it to be human. While this question may seem simple and unrelated to environmental science it is in fact very much tied to the science and many ethical and philosophical questions that pervade the field. Looking from a scientific standpoint five years ago the answer to this question would have seemed relatively simple. A human would be defined as a Homo Sapien, a bipedal hominid with a rather large brain and dexterous hands that evolved out of Africa 200,000 years ago. However recent genetic testing has shattered this notion. It was discovered that nearly 40 percent of humans outside of sub Saharan Africa contain Neanderthal dna. Neanderthals were a very close cousin to modern humans. they were slightly more squat and hairy. Before the discovery of our containing Neanderthal dna it was believed that they were a separate species, related to us about as closely as hourses are to zebras. Yet this new shocking genetic discovery suggests that we were able to interbreed with neanderthals and produce viable offspring. This changes the notion and idea of humanity. We may be more diverse and a bit less of an exclusive lot that we thought. Some of my pears wrote about whether or not humans are part of ecology. I believe that our interbreeding with a relative hominid is further evidence that we are still very much subject to evolution, adaptation and therefor ecology. Humans often try to distance themselves from nature and have even gone so far as to deem other creatures apart from us, deeming them animals. Before the dna test the Neanderthal was in a sort of fussy gray area. These new tests draw Homo Sapiens further into the gray in between human beings and animals.