We tend to make fun of what we don’t understand, from abstract ideas to concrete individuals. And let’s be honest, there’s no one easier to laugh at than a cement head with a dumb idea.
But in defense of mockery and derision, it’s sometimes hard to get through a whole day without running into one of life’s really serious people talking about one of life’s really serious persons, places or things in a way that suggests everyone else has the brains of a leaf blower.
Given all of that, isn’t it understandable that one might rise to exclaim “I’m going to laugh out loud at you because I have no idea what you’re talking about, but seriously homes, have you ever thought of just shutting up for 30 seconds?”
So it’s always a treat to come across something the serious world considers very serious but strikes us in the ignorami as thigh-slapping stupid. Thus, from the anals of reality we find two scientists, one a Canadian the other a Dane who discovered in the permafrost of the Yukon the toe bone of a horse. They somehow managed to squeeze enough toe jam from this bone (like that last bit of toothpaste from the tube) to get the DNA of the whole horse. From this they extracted a 700,000 year old genome. How could they possibly know that age you ask?
As we all learned in school, dating an ancient horse is not as simple as asking “What time do you get off work?” Especially when you’d be talking to a toe bone, and a frigid one at that. Rather than a layman explaining it, let’s review how the New York Times described the process in a June 26, 2013 story:
“The researchers who sequenced it (the genome) then analyzed DNA from a less ancient horse, one that lived 43,000 years ago, as well as five contemporary horse breeds and a donkey named Willy that resides in the Copenhagen Zoo.”
It does make one wonder what would have happened if the toe bone and the DNA had come from a human. Likely they would have compared the DNA to other less ancient human toe bones from guys that lived 43,000 years ago, as well as four or five contemporary toe pickers. Oh, and an ass named Willy who tosses herring to seals at the Copenhagen Zoo.
Yet, had these scientists spent a little more time digging up the ice cubes they might have found the rest of the horse. Or even an ancient garden nome with its little conical red hat, bearing a small sign that said:
“Reward: my horse Murgle threw a toe bone. Can’t compete in the 700,000 B.C. Run for the Toeses without it. If found please return to Urgle, fourth cave on the right.”
Questions for discussion:
- Do you just wake up one morning and say to yourself “Today I think I’ll look for horse toe bones in the Yukon?”
- How did the two scientists decide who got to hold the toe bone? Was it a mature arrangement or did one of them (the Dane, probably) say “It’s my turn to hold it. You held it all day yesterday and dropped it in the walleye chowder.”
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013, all rights reserved.