Category: Blog Posts

The human origins story keeps changing….

Last month the story was that Neanderthals and ancient humans interbred in southern Europe hundreds of thousands of years earlier than previously thought, totally upending the out-of-Africa theory which had held that one small band left Africa around 100,000 years ago and became the basis for all of us today. Now people must talk of more than one out-of-Africa migration. And apparently, too, it wasn’t just Neanderthals that mingled with ancient hominids – Denisovians did too, and maybe others as well. NOW comes evidence that modern humans reached Australian over 65,000 years ago, 18,000 years earlier than previously thought. This means they sailed across the open sea in boats, out of sight of land, enough of them to start a community and then a continent-wide occupation.  Could it be that the tectonic plates of human origins are cracking, and shifting? Is the out-of-Africa theory under siege? A theory, once accepted, is defended like death. But true science sometimes shatters theories. Must shatter theories.

I am waiting, eagerly, for the first documented find of ancient humans, people who lived more than 50,000 years ago, somewhere on North or South America. Just because no evidence has yet been found (that has been verified) does not mean no evidence exists.

A coming paradigm shift

The battle – and it is a battle, always – over the theories as to the development of modern humans seems to be taking a major turn. For the last 40 years, more or less, the theory has held that modern man arose in northeastern Africa and from there populated the earth. This is the Out of Africa theory. Just recently – see the article below – a major find in northwestern Africa, fully across the continent from Ethopia and the east coast, has turned theories of modern humanity’s origins on its head. Yes, they are still talking about Out of Africa, but this find upsets everything in many ways, and the ramifications won’t emerge for months, maybe years. I think we are on the precipice of a NEW theory of modern human origins, but cannot even guess what it might be….

Coming home

A gazillion years ago when I fished from Chatham we had to cross the bar from Pleasant Bay into the Atlantic. It was (and still is) hairy, especially if it was foggy – and it was always foggy – and a sea was running. The channel shifted daily, sand, tons, being moved, and the course would wind among the breakers, left, then right. The boats fishing from Chatham are small, 40-50 feet, yet those seas could be large. When I was fishing we’d cross the bar. Just beyond was the broken and sunken half of the ship Pendlelton, which in the early 50s had come ashore and broken in half. There was a movie made about it, Finest Hours, recently, which I thought was pretty accurate except the absolute hairiest part of that saga, crossing the bar back into Pleasant Bay with all those men aboard and the storm raging, was sort of skipped. But those of us who fished from Chatham, we understood how hairy that had been.  There are lots of other bars and hairy entrances around the world fishermen must pass, and even ships (the Columbia Bar off Oregon and Washington for example). This grainy You Tube video here shows the Grindavik, Iceland, harbor entrance in January 1991 in a nasty sea and is in my opinion the most dramatic bar crossing on video ever made. My guess is the boat in the video is 110-130 feet long. Just imagine….


The Inland Empire

I’ve been driving around eastern Washington, western Idaho and Eastern Montana this week stopping at Indie bookstores in hopes of encouraging them to place my book on their shelves. I get the best of the deal, by far – I meet great people, see some terrific shops, and get to wander some breathtaking country. I first drove through eastern Washington in 1967 when I was 20, with two friends, in an ancient Peugeot sedan. We came up from California, passed Mt. Rainier, went through Yakima, and then headed east toward Idaho and Montana. We all remember coming onto that high desert plain and seeing the road stretch ahead for miles and miles. Yesterday I was north of Ephrata on a back way to Wenatchee and came upon a secondary road which looked exactly like the main highway did a half century ago. Exactly.


Guess Where

One thing about wandering the northwest visiting indie bookstores, along with the great people I meet and the wonderful towns I see, is lots and lots of hours behind the wheel driving – open roads, freeways, passes, switchbacks, more passes, more open roads – and here’s what I see. Any guesses?