In that 2020 post (and recent repost) about cats, people, and ice ages, I focused on cats.
Now I feel a little braver and will add in some guest videos about human evolution, although it’s a controversial subject — even among scientists.
As for the larger social controversy, I have steered clear of anything recognizably partisan: religious (because I have a religion, Theravadan Buddhism, and know that everything comes down to faith of one sort or another, whether we choose to admit it or not) or secular.
This approach really limits the field of video candidates for a post, of course.
The people at PBS Eons have a useful video on human evolution (by the way, I’ve used this source so often that it calls for a disclaimer: I am not associated with them in any way. They just make some good, free videos about topics I’m interested in.)
However, IMO they mess up by looking for “what it means to be human” in scientific terms.
In this respect, I entirely agree with the G. K. Chesterton’s often-stated take on it: being human means that we are higher than animals, no matter how hard we try to act like them, and we are lower than angels, despite our loftiest dreams and moral efforts.
Being human is really hard, and then you die.
It’s very unsatisfactory, and the only way I can deal with it is to follow the Buddha’s teachings as closely as I possibly can. Others have different approaches from mine, and that is good, too.
Trying to deal constructively with this situation of ours is a sign of humanity, and it has nothing to do with genus or species, or any other scientific classification.
But there is a place for science, if only ultimately to catalog the Universe’s wonders, as Linnaeus tried to do.
Somehow everything fits together into something much larger than ourselves.
I’m not blithe enough to think that we can easily define what it means to be human; each of us must live it out and, together with all others of our kind, write out the definition for all to see.
Genus and species are something entirely different.
But people do have a genus label, and while I don’t agree with their use of the word “human,” the PBS Eons folks do an excellent job exploring it:
Now for the ice.
The video below shows a story set 24,000 years ago, at around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum.
This was long after Felis lunensis, and European wildcats were a thing at that point (and probably sheltering from the ice on the Iberian Peninsula and in the Carpathian Mountains and other Western European refuges).
However, the story is set around the time that a line of European wildcats moved south, first into the Middle East and then into Africa, where they evolved into African wildcats. (Yamaguchi et al.)
Some of those African wildcats wandered northward after the ice age ended some 12,000 years ago. They met people in the fertile parkland that existed then between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and some of those wildcats decided to settle down together with those people.
The rest is history.
But life wasn’t easy for any living being in most of Europe 24,000 years ago:
This is the first of a six-video playlist that, interspersed with scientific comments, follows the survivors through their meeting with and acceptance by a new clan
I can’t vouch for the maker because they don’t identify themselves. They don’t list sources, either, but at least some of their facts match what I’ve read in reliable papers about those times — the Gulf Stream effect on Arctic snowfall, for instance.
And experts like Rick Potts, of the Smithsonian, check out.
Those headache-inducing “wobbles” shown in the video are these orbital cycles:
Well, this is a wordy, but I think, necessary supplement to today’s Feline Friday post.
Nothing ever is simple when it involves cats and/or H. sapiens!
But it can, at times, be comfy.
So here, to close, are some happy, peaceful kittens.
Featured image: jaegermb/Pixabay, public domain
Source: Yamaguchi, N.; Driscoll, C. A.; Kitchener, A. C.; Ward, J. M.; and Macdonald, D. W. 2004. Craniological differentiation between European wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris), African wildcats (F. s. lybica) and Asian wildcats (F. s. ornata): implications for their evolution and conservation. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 83(1): 47-63.