Friday, September 02, 2016

July 28 -- Museum of Natural History, part 1


Taxidermy is more interesting when the animals are posed in lively ways, I think.  This is a black-tailed jackrabbit, which can go 35 mph when avoiding predators.

This makes me smile every time I look at it.  Grasshopper mouse.  Shrieking.

I've mentioned many times that July is a far from optimal time to visit Washington DC.  The Museum of Natural History was crowded, and it was LOUD.  It seems to me that noise control is just not even part of the equation.  Big echoing spaces..............   Ouch.

Moving around, trying to find quieter places.

The evolution of Homo sap.

I think the "earliest dates" for this and that keep moving back farther and farther into the past.  Surely "gathering at the hearth" presupposes control of fire.....  Otherwise it would be "gathering at the wildfire," don't you think?  800,000 years ago is pretty long ago, and predates Homo sap by a real long time, to the best of my knowledge.

Note that "rapid increase in brain size" appears *after* "gathering at the hearth," and is the next significant change on this chart.  I'm thinking that's because "gathering at the hearth" led to "cooking," which is necessary for big brains.

I know I've seen a chart showing the relative amounts of calories available when a food is raw, vs. cooked.  It varies by the kind of food, as you'd expect, but in some cases it's well over 50% more calories in cooked food than in the same food, raw.

One of the teachers in one of the genetics classes I have taken talked about this.  He said that it takes a LOT of energy to maintain a big brain, and that without cooking, you basically can't do it.

He said we are totally evolved to eat cooked food at this point, and I remember him as saying that we are incapable of maintaining reproductive fitness on a raw diet.  (I don't remember whether he said "especially women" but I bet it's even more true for women, who have to take in enough calories to feed two brains, one of which is growing at a prodigious rate.........)

I also remember hearing somewhere that while the smell of cooked meat is very appealing to us, chimpanzees are not interested in that smell at all.  (Bet dogs are -- now I'm wondering about wolves....)

As I contemplated human evolution, my better half contemplated human activity that is hard to regard as "progress"..........

Reproduction of a cave painting.   I've always loved the way they captured so many significant aspects of horses, in such a few lines.........

I always like to know how we know............

A pretty long time ago, "evolution of Homo sap"-wise.  Especially for something we've claimed was unique to ourselves up until pretty recently (a few decades?  less?).

Beads on a string can be embellishment, and they can be a way to keep track of things.

Lists are another way to keep track.  There are way, way too many names on this list.

The Natural History Museum has some really nice portrait-type sculptures of various hominids, with the sculpture displayed at about the height that individual would have reached.  I was taller than this guy.  I'm 5'3".

Pretty much appalled that we can't just call him a man.  "This male" -- really?  Just how ARE we drawing that line, anyway, and who gets to decide?  Given that they know, now, that we and Neanderthals interbred (and we now have 3-5% Neanderthal genes, now, nearly all of us), then how exactly are we drawing some sort of "we/they" line here?


I love this sculpture.  It makes him look like someone who'd be interesting to know, don't you think?

Still looking for quiet spaces; still failing to find any.

Ocean stuff.  In a bigger, ergo even noisier, space.  Sigh.

When I looked at sea stars and their relatives, my better half was on his way east.  He walked a bit north of the Mall, to get a look at the White House.  Standing in pretty much the same place, he took this pic, and the next one.

Skates are cartilaginous -- no skeleton if you've got no bones...........  So I don't know what you call this, but it's still cool.

Swordfish, on the other hand, have bones.

The cafeteria is noisy, too, but not too crowded.  I can sit at a table by myself.   Looking straight up.

I texted my better half as I ate lunch, and he joined me in the Museum of Natural History shortly after I was finished eating.

It's very nice to be able to keep in close touch, even when we are not together.  Much more convenient attempting to meet at the doorway to the museum every hour, or something..........


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