Thursday, December 23, 2004

Homo Floresiensis and dialectics

Someone with the delightful name Espe Espigares has written an interesting article on the recent discovery of Homo Floresiensis for the In Defence of Marxism website. Here's an excerpt:

The fact that Homo Floresiensis appeared some 85,000 years ago, and bones have been discovered dating from 13,000 years ago, confirms another interesting fact: that several species of humans have shared the planet at the same time. This is an idea now accepted in the scientific community, but articles on Homo Floresiensis in newspapers seem reluctant to accept it. It is proven without doubt that Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals lived in Europe at the same time. However, this is presented as an exception to the rule. In fact it is quite likely that several different species of hominids existed at the same time.

Evolution is not a linear and gradual matter. Evolution works in a dialectical way where for long periods of time nothing much seems to change. During these long periods there are quantitative changes taking place, and these quantitative changes accumulate. These longer periods are interspersed with shorter periods where quantity changes into quality, where the accumulated quantitative changes transform into apparently sudden and huge qualitative changes, shaking the old arrangement of the species. The late palaeontologist Steven Jay Gould termed this process “punctuated equilibria: “the history of life is not a continuum of development, but a record punctuated by brief, sometimes geologically instantaneous, episodes of mass extinctions and subsequent diversification.”

Read the rest here.

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