another early hominin specimen, & other things to read

I’m catching up on my reading of other people’s blogs, so here are some interesting posts to share with you.

At Laelaps Brian Switek has commented on the latest fossil hominin find. Dubbed ‘Kadanuumuu’ (or ‘Big Man’), this is a partial Australopithecus afarensis skeleton.Kadanuumuu was much larger than the more familiar (& more recent) ‘Lucy’, & because of this & because of features of the pelvis, the scientists who described the remains feel they were probably those of a male. There’s also the suggestion (see the comments thread for Brian’s article) that these remains may overturn the current hypothesis that afarensis‘s ribcage was funnel-shaped. Or may not – we probably need more data on this one.

There’s an interesting discussion on Pharyngula  around the separation of science & belief. Part of the post, & the ensuing comments thread, focus on a post by another blogger that appears to be making an argument for students’ personal beliefs to count as valid answers in science exams. Every now & then I’ve seen a student answer a question in this way, rather than giving a reasoned scientific response to said question. In each case I have marked them down, & it’s not because I deny students the right to personal belief systems. It’s because the question has been science-based, & that’s what I expect the answer to be as well. Anyway, the post & discussion are interesting & thought-provoking.

And the Silly Beliefs team have taken a critical look at a recent item on ’60 Minutes’ that took an extremely credulous stance on the issue of UFOs & alien visitations. I had wondered whether to watch the program but the promos made me think that this would do damage to my blood pressure. Presenting information that turns out to be at least a decade old as something new & exciting doesn’t strike me as particularly good journalism…

Enjoy 🙂

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