TheAncestor’s Tale by Dawkins (2004) presents a thrilling backwardhistory on evolution. The presentation discusses history in a reversemanner from the present, and back to the early microbial periods oflife that date to more than four billion years ago. The storiesoutlined in the article highlight the speciation, sexual selection aswell as extinction topics. I learned some lessons from reading thestory.
Firstis the realization that the ancestral genes exist in individuals wholooked like people in the present generation. This is evident fromthe Neanderthal’s Tale, which explores the quest for ancestralgenes. Dawkins (2004) is quick to note that there is no literalmeaning to this insight, but rather the reference concerns thegenetic makeup. Therefore, the individuals met when stepping out ofthe time machine are not more different from the current generation.The genes of the ancestors would thus fall within the same range ofvariability as is the case in the world today.
Second,the evolution of agriculture is seen to have developed from differentregions and varying time frames (Dawkins, 2004). For instance, therevolution is understood to have started back in the Ice Age,approximately 10,000 years ago. This was at the Fertile Crescentbetween the Euphrates and Tigris, which is considered as the cradleof human civilization. Other areas where this revolution may havestarted independently include China, the banks of river Nile and theinterior highlands of New Guinea. The development of Agriculturepaved the way for the people to transit and settle fromhunter-gatherers to an agricultural lifestyle. The transition frompure hunter-gatherers to pure agriculturalists implies that allpeople will be ‘civilized’ or else ‘corrupt’ shortlydepending on one’s view (Dawkins, 2004).
Athird lesson is the understanding that agricultural revolution wasnot a ‘sudden event’ (Dawkins, 2004). In fact, a series of eventstook place before husbandry took place. The hunters in theuninhabited and open grounds may have controlled and guarded theirhunting territories against rival hunters. Additionally, they mayhave followed and guarded the herds themselves which naturally led toherding, feeding, corralling and finally housing the animals(Dawkins, 2004). From a fundamental understanding, such changes maynot have happened overnight.
Also,there is the understanding that although genes that people have aresimilar to those of the ancestors, the culture and anatomy differsacross the two generations. There is a suggestion from archeologythat something unique started happening to human species back around40,000 years ago (Dawkins, 2004). Several archeologists refer to thehappening as an ‘event’ or the Great Leap Forward that changedthe face of human life. One notable change of this period is thediscovery of language. However, Dawkins (2004) argues that languageis older than the Leap, but nobody believes that language is oldercompared to Leap.
Therefore,different reflection lessons can be identified from the reading andespecially with further review of Concestor O and Rendezvous Otopics. Viewing evolution backward leads to a common ancestorpointing to the fact that the ancestors and present generations aresimilar although their cultures and anatomy differ. The changes fromhunter-gatherer to agriculture and then to civilization are welldepicted, which explain how the human race has developed over time toadopt the new way of life. The backward chronology provides asensible way of searching for ancestors.
Dawkins,R. (2004). TheAncestor`s Tale.Boston: Houghton Mifflin.