Say hello to Ida, a 47 Million old ancestor of yours. She was very young when she died - tragically, no doubt - and still had a little meal of berries and leaves in her belly when she plunged into an 800 foot lake and sank to the bottom, there to be buried under 47 million years of sediment. Hence the rocky look.

Ida is a big deal, and will no doubt cause many textbooks to be re-written. But here's something that I learned while reading up on Ida, and human evolution in general.

The key point is (JESUS FREAKS! DO NOT READ FURTHER!!!): We not only descended from a common monkey ancestor (and not directly Ida above -- she is way, way up the human evolutionary tree) but, and here's the point, we ARE monkeys. Still. Right now, you and me. Monkeys. Just really really smart monkeys.

And one of our biggest advantages over our monkey brethren, and perhaps the only thing that truly separates us from them, is our collective ability to store information outside of our bodies. Think about it: When born, we are provided (for the most part) the collective wisdom of those that came before us. The internet makes this real easy. But few - no? - other animals can do this. The best they could hope for is a small oral lesson from their parents. Other than that, it's all genetic information, and whatever the creature can learn during it's life.

We, on the other hand, do not have to reinvent the wheel or agriculture or math or anything really - it's all there for us, waiting. We can add to it of course.

To wit: Our true "human" evolution only began with the advent of the earliest writing/painting/art, for that is the medium outside of ourselves in which we can store information for others. Before that, we lived much like other monkeys, save for the awesome luxury of fire and spears. Thus, our true evolution is only 40-70 thousand years old, and really only kick started in the last 8-10 thousand years. A blink of an eye in the scale of it all.

Feel free to disagree!

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