Gotra and Biology

I casually asked a biologist friend of mine ‘what is your gotra?’,to which he replied rather nonchalantly, ” Lucy,Taung child,Twiggy,Java man,Peking man,Turkana boy, Neanderthals …. take your pick – it could be any of the above!” Thinking that he was simply blabbering away without following my question,I repeated my question – this time taking pain to explain what is meant by ‘gotra’ – and told him that he ought be talking about ‘Rishis’ from whom his family descended. He elaborated to say that the names he reeled out are precisely the possible names of his ancestors and indeed of the entire humanity. Sensing my irritation,he elaborated his answer with a fair amount of biology. He said that while it may be justified to take pride in one’s lineage,it is important not to forget our really ancient common ancestors.
He then went on to quote Darwin from his famous book entitled ‘ORIGIN OF SPECIES’. Darwin postulated the hypothesis that all terrestrial life on earth is biologically(genetically) related and has a universal common ancestry. Extending the postulate,he said that we(Human beings) share a ‘common ancestor’ with chimpanzees. One branch of this ‘common ancestor’ evolved into chimpanzees while the other branch evolved into humans.(There is a common myth that evolution means that on one fine day a chimpanzee gave birth to a human. Evolution simply implies that we humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees).

Darwin’s hypothesis has been proved beyond doubt during the past hundred years through clear evidences from Fossil specimens found at various places in Africa,Asia etc. The evolution from the common ancestor to the present day humans could be nicely traced through a number of fossil specimens,which provided the so called ‘ missing links’. Here are some of the missing links:
1.About 3.5 millions ago:AUSTRALOPITHECUS(an upright walking chimp,brain size:400cc
2.About 2million years ago:HOMO HABLIS with a brain size of 600cc,
3.About 1.5million years ago:HOMO ERECTUS,brain size of 1000cc.
4.Present day humans:HOMO SAPIENS,brain size of 1300 to 1400c.

One can clearly see the increasing brain size with evolution over a period of more than 3 million years(brain size is directly correlated to development of intelligence)
Anthropologists have given various names to these missing links such as Lucy,Taung child,Twiggy,Java man,Peking man,Turkana boy, Neanderthals etc.

In this background,isn’t it funny that we still squabble about Gotras?

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Published in: on June 20, 2010 at 7:03 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Enlightening post. I concede with the fact that human is evolved from chimps. We look very similar(compared to other species), we share same philosophy of society and behavior.

    Why chimps did not evolve? What made human different and succeed? There are so many questions awaiting an answer.


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