It all began when Copernicus demonstrated that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Then Darwin showed that we were nothing special – just another ape. Reading between the lines in Richard Dawkins’ Selfish Gene one detects a near satanic glee that the tooth and claw beast to which we had been reduced is really just a vehicle driven by the horrible little selfish genes that are actually running the show.
Any child can plainly see that we are extremely different from chimpanzees – more different than, say a toad is from a chimp. And yet all the science is biased to demonstrate how alike we are. The law of parsimony in biology described in the last blog post is an excellent example. Only when we open our minds to the clear differences between us and chimps does the real simplicity of nature’s parsimony emerge.
The change in the classification from hominid to hominin is the most glaring case in point. Once upon a time we had our very own biological Family called hominids. Then as soon as it was discovered that chimps share 98% of our genome, the chief classifiers, where ever they may be, jumped at the opportunity to lump us together and demote us to a “sub-tribe” and change the “d” to an “n,” so we now we are suddenly hominins.
Well now it turns out that the spectacular changes that rendered an ape into a man are not reflected in the mere genome but in epigenetic changes we are just beginning to fathom and perhaps even within the “dark matter” of the genome.
So, let the classifiers fiddle around with the other refuge apes as they please, but I for one will continue to celebrate the momentous changes that occurred in our own lineage by returning to the old system in which we reside within our own Family of hominids, which we had all gotten used to. Isn’t that a much more accurate – and cozier – arrangement?