Posts Tagged ‘Homo sapiens’

6 Scariest Species to have Ever Lived in Georgia

October 30, 2016

6. The Hell Pigs

Vicious entelodonts lived on earth from the late Eocene to the mid Miocene (for over 20 million years).  They were 4 feet tall and reached weights of 930 pounds.

Entelodonts are known as hell pigs because their fossil remains represent a once terrifying animal that resembled a giant pig.  They occurred across most of the Northern Hemisphere, and there were many species over time.  Entelodonts existed between 37.2 million years BP-16.3 million years BP.  Although they resembled pigs, anatomical evidence suggests they were more closely related to the common ancestor of hippos and whales.  Enteledonts were 4 feet tall and weighed up to 930 pounds.  They were fast runners, and paleontologists believe they rammed into their prey, knocking their victims down and biting them until their bones were broken, probably similar to the way hippos kill humans in Africa today.  Fossil evidence of enteledonts has been found in Twiggs and Houston Counties in Georgia.  The tooth found in Houston County compares favorably with Archaeotherium, a once widespread species of enteledont.

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Entelodont tooth found in Bonaire, Georgia.  I am not the author who took a photo of this tooth.

4. (tie) The Giant Short-faced Bear (Arctodus simus) and the Saber-toothed Cat (Smilodon fatalis)

I can’t decide which 1 of these was more frightening.  Giant short-faced bears were on average as large as Kodiak bears–the largest subspecies of brown bear ( Ursus arctos ).  However, they probably made a lot of noise and could be easily detected and avoided.  Saber-tooths were ambush predators and could sneak up on prey in the dark or in thickly vegetated habitat.  Arctodus was much larger, weighing about 1000 pounds compared to ~350 pounds for Smilodon.  But the latter was very powerful and sported fangs.  Fossil evidence of this big cat has been found in all of the states bordering Georgia.  Fossil evidence of Arctodus has turned up in an Alabama county adjacent to Georgia as well as several sites in Florida.  Both undoubtedly once ranged into Georgia.

Image result for arctodus simus

Giant short-faced bear and saber-toothed catThe illustration of this saber-tooth is inaccurate.  Smilodon had a bob-tail and their forelimbs were much more powerfully built than depicted here.

3. Appalachiosaurus

 

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Appalachiosaurus terrorized upstate Georgia during the late Cretaceous.

Appalachiosaurus was a species of tyrannosaur that lived on the eastern side of the Western Interior Seaway during the late Cretaceous (~80 million years BP-65 million years BP).  They were the top land predator, probably hunting hadrosaurs or anything else they could catch.  Fossil evidence of this species has been excavated from Hannahatchee Creek near Columbus, Georgia.  The type specimen, a nearly complete skeleton, was found in Alabama.

2. Deinosuchus rugosus

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Evidence suggests Deinosuchus rugosus ate tyrannosaurs.

This extinct crocodylian, a relative of alligator ancestors, grew to an estimated 36 feet long and weighed up to 17,000 pounds.  They were large and powerful enough to seize and drag a tyrannosaur into the water, and there is some fossil evidence they preyed upon them.  They likely ate dinosaurs as a significant part of their diet.  Fossil evidence of this species has also been found in Hannahatchee Creek as well as the Chattahoochee River in Georgia.

1. Man (Homo sapiens)

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Homo sapiens is clearly the scariest species to have ever walked on earth.  Here is a photo of an atomic bomb mushroom cloud.  Humans can wipe out entire cities with nuclear weapons.

Human beings construct weapons of mass destruction capable of turning livable habitat into uninhabitable wasteland.  I can’t think of anything scarier than that.

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Did Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalis) really Interbreed with Humans (Homo sapiens)?

June 26, 2015

Warning: Do not read this blog entry, if you are younger than 18.  The nude images might cause blindness.

A new study published in the scientific journal, Nature, of a 40,000 year old skull suggests Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalis) interbred with humans (Homo sapiens).  This particular specimen, found in Romania, is thought to be 6%-9% Neanderthal, and the authors of this study think this individual had a great-great-great-great Neanderthal grandparent.  He left no living  descendants, but other studies of Neanderthal DNA determined Homo sapiens and Homo neandetheralis did hybridize, and some modern Europeans and Asians might be 1%-3% Neanderthal.  The media likes this story, and a study casting doubt on the assumptions used to identify past hybridization is being ignored.  I didn’t even see the study listed in the new journal article’s references, so the scientists involved in Neanderthal DNA studies are unaware of the article or are ignoring it as well.

The ignored study, referenced below, was written by A. Ericksson and A. Manica.  They write “tests for hybridization rely on the degree to which different modern populations share genetic polymorphisms with genomes of other hominins.”  A polymorphism is defined as 2 clearly different phenotypes existing in the same population of a species.  A phenotype is the composite of an organisms observable characteristics.  For example a population of humans could consist of big blondes and small brunettes–2 different phenotypes.  The authors of this study show that examples of shared polymorphism attributed to hybridization could actually have originated before H. neanderthalis and H. sapiens diverged over 200,000 years ago.  Both species of humans evolved from H. heidelbergensis.  The population of H. heidelbergensis that colonized Europe evolved into H. neanderthalis.  The population of H. heidelbergensis that stayed in Africa until ~45,000 years ago evolved into H. sapiens.  An Asian colonization evolved into the poorly known Denisovans.

The authors of this study believe their findings don’t rule out the possibility of hybridization in Europe, but they urge “caution” when making the assumption that hybridization occurred.  To determine whether or not the degree of shared polymorphism was the result of hybridization or was part of an earlier genetic pattern from the founding population structure would require DNA from a specimen pre-dating the divergence of these 2 species.  Viable DNA can’t be extracted from specimens that old.

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Representation of a female Neanderthal based on DNA studies.  Note the red hair.  Neanderthals had red hair.

Nude female Homo sapiens.  Human women are much cuter than Homo neanderthalis.  Moreover, female Neanderthals were probably considerably stronger than male Homo sapiens.  I doubt the 2 species interbred.  Genetic studies can’t discern certain hybridization without studying the DNA of the ancestral common ancestor of both species.  This is impossible because those fossils are too old to harbor DNA.

I doubt H. sapiens bred with H. neanderthalis.  The 2 populations of humans had been isolated from each other for over 200,000 years.  Behavior patterns likely dramatically differed. Facial features were significantly different, and I think they didn’t recognize each other as mating material.  Neanderthals were intelligent ambush predators that used thrusting weapons, and they were physically more powerful than humans.  But humans were smarter and had developed projectile weapons.  Humans ate a wider variety of foodstuffs, contributing to greater fertility.  I think humans wiped out Neanderthals within a few thousand years.  Assimilation was unlikely.

Reference:

Ericksson, A.; and A. Manica

“Effect of Ancient Population Structure on the Degree of Polymorphism Shared between Modern Human Populations and Ancient Hominins”

PNAS 2012

http://www.pnas.org/content/109/35/13956.full

Homo sapiens is the Only Evil Species

January 21, 2013

Humans bestowed the scientific name of Panthera atrox upon the extinct Pleistocene lion that used to live in North America.  The Latin word, atrox, means terrible, cruel, horror.  How arrogant and unfair for the only truly evil species to ever walk the earth to refer to another species as a terrible cruel horror.  Sure, other species besides man commit violent acts such as cannibalism, fratricide, and the killing of young sired by another male.  But these behaviors follow the rules of surivival of the fittest.  They are examples of animal behavior shaped by evolution.  Man, however, is the only species that murders and commits other despicable acts for reasons not based on activities necessary for survival.

The animal that comes closest to matching the evil of Homo sapiens is our closest living relative–Pan troglodytes, also known as the chimpanzee.  They fight intertribal wars, and occasionally kill members of their own tribes, including infants.  Upon further contemplation, these behaviors still fall within the rules of survival of the fittest.  Chimp wars are fought over natural resources, and murdering fellow troop members may solve disputes over hierarchy–again another Darwinian survival advantage.  Even ants, which are practically pre-programmed automatons, fight wars.  So I can’t really convince myself that chimpanzees are an evil species.

Man is the only species that commits mass genocide, even when resources are not scarce.  Throughout history, genocides have never followed the evolutionary rules of survival of the fittest, nor have they been based on any kind of rational thought.  Tyrants have never ordered the killings of thousands or millions of people because they were afraid they or their biological kin were in danger of starving to death.   The fight over natural resources explains, if not justifies, human wars, but there is no evolutionary explanation for genocide.  Genocide is simply used to terrorize a population, oftentimes so an egomaniac can maintain political control.  But egomaniacs are well aware that they could survive and reproduce as an individual without ever becoming a famous tyrant.  The people who aid the tyrant also know killing mass numbers of people is not necessary for their own well being and reproduction.

Victims of the Nazis–a mass grave of Jews.  No other species devotes so much energy to genocide.  Survival of the human species doesn’t require genocide.  It’s difficult to explain the evolutionary advantage of genocide.

The German people were heavily criticized after World War II for their role in the Holocaust which would have never been possible without their cooperation.  Germans convicted of war crimes claimed they were merely following orders.  Stanley Milgram, a Jewish psychologist, wondered if all humans had a tendency to submit to authority, even if it meant performing acts they knew were morally wrong.  So he designed a now famous experiment: A person was told to administer shocks to an unseen subject who could be heard.  The subject was actually an actor who was not really given electric shocks.  An authority figure (an alleged professor) gently urged the person to continue adminstering increasing levels of electrical shock, while the actor went from expressing mild discomfort to groans to screams to begging for the experiment to stop because of his heart condition to silence and assumed unconciousness or death.  Prior to this experiment, Milgram polled psychologists on what they thought the results would be.  Psychologists thought on average that only 3% of participants would continue shocking the subject til the silence implied he might have died.  The results were shocking–66% completed the experiment, though many showed signs of stress, as if they knew what they were doing was wrong.  This experiment has been repeated numerous times with similar results, most recently on a Discovery Channel special entitled “How Evil Are You?” that aired in 2011.  The experiment shows that an authority figure can influence most people to endanger and kill other people.  All it takes is a little gentle prodding.

A bizarre incident highlights this evil element that makes up part of what is known as humanity.  A man posing as a police officer used an untraceable disposable phone to call a McDonalds in Mt. Washington, Kentucky and convince the manager to strip search an employee in a backroom because she had allegedly stolen money from a customer’s purse.  Eventually, he convinced her to call her boyfriend to watch over the poor, naked, teenaged girl.  While the manager went back to work, the perverted creep convinced the manager’s boyfriend to severely spank the employee’s naked butt, then ordered the girl to give the man a blowjob.  Both complied.  A security camera captured the whole episode as seen in this youtube clip from an episode of 20/20.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CgCSps6KgdY

The creep on the phone was a Florida prison guard named David Stewart.  Police eventually caught him but not before he (and possibly others) made over 100 similar calls.  The manager was sentenced to 1 year probation; her boyfriend received a 5 year prison sentence.  The victim sued McDonalds and won a $6 million lawsuit, later settled out of court for a lesser amount.  McDonald’s was negligent because they were aware of similar calls and had failed to alert their employees of the perverted hoax.

No other animal is capable of such evil.  A man destroyed other people’s lives because it gave him sexual satisfaction.  And people were too weak-willed to simply hang up the telephone.

This incident was recently dramatized in the movie Compliance.  Test audiences at the initial screening of Compliance unfairly accused the producer of misogyny and exploitation.  The makers of the movie were merely showing a truth about the human condition.  Outraged audience members missed the whole point of the movie.  They should save their ire for all of humanity.

Dramatic portrayal from the movie Compliance based on a real life event that occurred when a pervert on a telephone convinced a store manager and her boyfriend to strip search, spank, and rape an employee.