I am a little fascinated with firsts. The first time someone was thrust into space. The first time a person made a toothbrush. The first occurrence of electricity in a house. I get lost in my imagination, wondering what it would have been like, to be in that time, in that place, experiencing something for the first time. The first Crunchy Cheeto.
I am very intrigued by the lives of the first humans on this planet. Especially since my “23 and Me” DNA came back, letting me know that I had a Grandpa Neanderthal. That explains the heavy waxing that goes on every few weeks to correct my unibrow. Pappy Neanders. How I love you so. And, and. You folks out there. Don’t you judge me. We all have our family skeletons in the closet. Literally.
Yet. It is an undeniable fact. Fossils of more than 6,000 individuals have been discovered so far. And these fossils represent more than a dozen species of early humans. From all over the dang place. Only our species, Homo sapiens, remains. The Smithsonian has a great online resource for all of this, if you are so inclined.
For many millions of years, we all hung out in Africa. But then, by about 1.8 million years ago, we started to roam. And here we are now. All spread out, but just a phone call away.
So yes, it all makes me wonder what that life must have been like. Very rudimentary, I would suppose. I like to read articles about this, and see exhibits. This morning, something happened though. And, unfortunately, it happens quite often. I take the time to read a very lengthy article about something — based on the title — and when I’ve sampled the very last word, the article proves to be inconclusive.
This morning, the title was, “Five Theories on the Origins of Language.” This has long been a scientific mystery — this “HOW” we started yammering to one another. Thor didn’t just roll over one morning and say, “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.”
So yes, I read the article, and ALL five theories were all discredited. Debunked. They were called “The Bow-Wow Theory,” “The Ding Dong Theory,” “The La La Theory,” “The Pooh Pooh Theory,” and the “The Yo-He-Ho Theory.”
I did NOT make those up. But think of the stuffy lab-coats who did. Imagine years and years of research into this field, trying to crack open the great mystery of the evolution of speech, and you place your dissertation on the table for all you colleagues to see. And there, in big, bold, red letters reads, “THE POOH POOH THEORY” by Ernie Schweidelnecker.
For the record, “The Pooh Pooh Theory” is based on the thought that speech began with interjections, where humans would cry out spontaneously in pain or surprise. Ouch! Oh! They shot this one down because of no relationships to vowels and consonants found in phonology. Poor Ernie. “Yikes.”
Now if I had a theory, it would be called “The Pass the Salt” Theory. It stems from man’s innate affinity for laziness. Imagine Yab and Janba sitting around the cave one night, dining on a freshly grilled rack of Sabertooth, on their newly made fire. It had been a big day. Janba worked from morning to night, and fashioned something out of stone which resembled a Goodyear Radial. But it was flat on two sides. Back to the research and development department tomorrow. Anyway, Yab is sitting there, and he finished his last rib of Sabertooth. Instead of getting his lazy butt up and getting it himself, he taps Janba on the arm, points to the other slabs of meat, and says, “Buh.” And again, he points, gesturing twice, extending his hairy arm forcefully, “Buh! BUH!” Well, she understands immediately, because she is smart like that. Janba looks him squarely in his beady eyes, and replies, “Get it your damn self, Yab.”
And just remember my friends, you heard it here first.
“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
“No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.”
― Isaac Newton
“The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.”
― Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed