Friday October 26th 2012
Lucy's earlier relative Salem, I am told, was
about three years old when she succumbed. But when imagination is
addressing creatures, who lived upon this earth over three million years
ago, there are always a number of interpretations, followed by
reinterpretations, followed by vigorous debate. Salem could have
been three and half or five years old when she died. But clearly
both Lucy and Salem walked upright. These early people did not
have to use their arms as a second pair of legs when moving across open
ground, and the evidence for this is deduced from the structure of what
is called a Lumber Curve. Which is a curve in the spine from just
above the bottom, or buttocks, to around where the ribs begin.
This sometimes seductive curve is also the reason for that most
irritating expression "lift with your legs." And let's leave
aside the moaning and groaning about whether Lucy and Salem were people,
because that starts tirade and tangent and long winded-ness which ends
with angry discussion on whether Felis Domesticus is a distinct species,
or pretty much like any other cat only sneakier and more manipulative.
And let's try hard to avoid thinking about sinus ailment and other
sacrifices our species have had to make in their ludicrous pursuit of
two legged-ness. Instead let's enter the debate on the more
serious question of whether the generations of Lucy and Salem, when at
the end of their day, tired from foraging, would climb into trees and
there, use their hands to build a nest large and strong enough to sleep
and cuddle in.
I'm a proponent of the nesting idea.
It's clear to me that nesting was and still is a principle preoccupation of
our species. I am very certain that little Salem would scurry around
looking for twigs, dried grasses, vines and offer up other suggestions.
And in her mind she would tell herself, "One day I too will build a nest."
And had she lived a few years longer she might even have reached that point
where her imagination decided, "My nest is bigger than your nest."
Those who have a contrary opinion to mine, and I regret to say there are
still a few of them, would disagree. The likes of Salem and Lucy, they
argue, had already been walking around upright for millions of years, and
were more likely to have fully adapted to the role of ground dweller.
Certainly, they continue to argue, the similarity between Salem's
scapular, her shoulder blade, or what I call 'my wing,' to that of a tree
climbing Gorilla, gave Salem a good ability to climb trees. But, they
argue, because of those millions of years of two legged uprightness,
if Salem was a 'tree climber' she was a 'tree climber in emergency,'
rather than a 'tree climber' by 'adaption to living in trees.' A
pretty bloody vacuous opinion in my view. Nor is their use of the word
"it" when referring to Salem and Lucy, helpful to my understanding of
this contrary opinion. I do understand it's an attempt to avoid any sort of
personal association or bias or emotional relapse. It's a search for a
more empirical clarity, but it's a little like calling the condemned man an
"it" before plunging the needle into his arm. And too, it's that sort of
empiricism that redefines an understanding of gratitude and replaces it
with, I don't know, something like the blindness of a Private Equity Fund.