Monday 24 February 2014

Back to Africa, human migration and British evolution over one million years and more ...

Thankfully, I see, I did qualify the last of my four posts last year on the rise of this earth of ours, and the spread of its peoples ... that more would come to light.

Photo of Homo - 
see Wikipedia

When I went up to London the other day I had time to spare in Eastbourne before the train left, as I’d hedged my bets re the flooding etc making sure I’d arrive in town for my appointment.

I browsed the newsagents picking up the New Scientist which appeared to have a few interesting blog-type articles in it ...

... one of which relates to the isolation of the tribes of Africa, once their species had started to migrate north populating the rest of the world after inter-breeding with the Neanderthals they encountered in the Middle East and further north.
Mitochrondial DNA-chart showing large
migrations of human populations ...
NB it is a map of the world - for easier
viewing check out Wiki and the photo data

At the time of my earlier posts in 2013 I’m sure I briefly thought well what about those peoples left behind ... letting them just get on with it ... til modern humans eventually emigrated back into Africa: how brazenly ridiculous can I be?!

The article I spotted is titled ‘The Return to Africa that Time Forgot’ reminding me of my previous posts ... it had been established that our homo sapiens species migrated out of Africa 65,000 years ... but what else happened ...

my iphone photo - see better
picture in the actual New
Scientist article
... other migrations had occurred during those 65,000 years and that western Eurasian genes had entered the African populations sometime between 900 and 3,000 years ago, hinting at important human migrations in historic times, that barely registered in written records.

The article (link below) refers to the ancient stories that seem to offer anecdotal explanations for the genetic findings ... viz the Bible and the Koran ...

So we all have a genetic legacy of Neanderthal in us, to a lesser or greater degree, including the sub-Saharan tribes or peoples  ... confirming that early humanity did U turns too ... and returned to their African roots.

Now here’s my new dilemma ... my original posts only referred to us:  homo sapiens ... yet there are four (main) human species in the story of our British evolution ...  as I found out from my research and in Wikipedia:

homo antecessor (earliest known human species): discovered in Spain  and so named in 1997; lived approx 1.2 – 0.8 million years ago.

homo heidelbergensis (sometimes called homo rhodesiensis): found in Europe, Africa and China.  Discovered, so named in 1908; lived approx 0.6 – 0.35 million years ago.

homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal man): found in Europe and Western Asia.  Discovered, so named in the mid 1800s; lived approx 0.35 – 0.03 million years ago.

homo sapiens (modern man): found worldwide. Discovered, so named in about 1758; living from about 200,000 years ago ... and still going strong, I think!

Map from Wiki showing Happisburgh
during the early Pleistocene age;
note the land bridge to Europe: still
connected 800,000 years ago
To add to the excitement of our British evolution, recently it was announced that human footprints had been found in Happisburgh, Norfolk ... dating back 800,000 years – our ancestors from the homo antecessor period.

Prior to this discovery, the oldest footprint in the UK was only 7,500 years old ... one of our homo sapiens ancestors.

To tie all this together The Natural History Museum has a new exhibition entitled “Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story”.

At the entrance to the exhibition we will be able to see casts of the four human species in our evolution.

As the notes to the exhibition highlight – catch a glimpse of the drama and treasure you will find in our evolutionary story.

On the Natural History Museum site – there are films showing: 

  • how the four homo casts were made ... 
  • how the team of scientists uncovered and recorded our 800,000 year old homo antecessor footprints ...

Eddie Izzard

... and as I described in those earlier posts, where Eddie Izzard was used as an example with his Neanderthal features, there are films showing the tracing of Neanderthal DNA in other celebrities, such as Bill Bailey, Clive Anderson and Alice Roberts.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this Exhibition and looking back at Britain long before the Romans, Saxons and Vikings arrived ...

Then just to add to the general mix ... The Vikings (Vikings: Life and Legend) are coming to the British Museum ... I gather they arrive on 6th March 2014!

Science in all its disciplines just amazes me about how much is accessible to be researched, to be recorded ... I love this learning ...the internet offers so many possibilities to us, while I'm lucky to live near enough to London for regular visits.

NewScientist article by Catherine Brahic

NaturalHistory Museum Site – promoting the exhibition: Britain, One Million Years of the Human Story ... check out the films here ...

Wikipedia Homo page

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Ubuntu BlogHop

Congratulations to Michelle Wallace who is celebrating her 3rd blogoversary and has asked us to join her in the Ubuntu blog hop 18th – 21stFebruary: what a wonderful way to spring forwards in 2014.

U is for Ubuntu ... a Xhosa word, simply:  I am; because of you     or      I am what I am because of who we all are.

L is for Londolozi ... a Zulu word meaning ‘Protector of All Living Things’.

c/o Londolozi

When I posted my A –Z tribute to Nelson Mandela in December ... I noted during the Memorial address that President Obama, with his African roots, described how Nelson Mandela had come to embrace the philosophy of 'Ubuntu' ... human kindness ...

... various journalists highlighted the word ‘Ubuntu’ ... implying that it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who had brought the concept to the world’s attention.

However I have found this absolutely fascinating TED talk and article given by the owner of Londolozi, whose family had named the game reserve after the Zulu word: Protector of All Living Things.

I have yet to listen to and watch the TED talk but know that I will ... there is so much evocativeness in Africa ...

Going back to Boyd Varty’s TED Women 2013 talk ... the accompanying article gave us relevant paragraphs on Ubuntu, with some amazing links:

The history  ...  its early use in print, was in 1846

Desmond Tutu’s take ... (early 90s)

Nelson Mandela’s take ... (2006)

Bill Clinton’s take ...  (2007 TED prize winner)

Ubuntu, the operating system ... who knew?!

Ubuntu in basketball ... again who knew?!

Ubuntu to turn back climate change?  This paragraph is well worth reading ... (2012)

I heard Ray Stevens’ song “Everything is Beautiful” yesterday and thought yes – a good Ubuntu song ... enjoy.

Please see Michelle’s post 1095 days for all the Ubuntu bloghoppers ... which reminds me of the wonderful little Lily Trotter bird!

In myA-Z for Mandela, I also used C for Colossus and Courageous: the man who united rich and poor, black and white, and in the process of leadership, since his release, has taught the human race the power of forgiveness.

Now I add two more letters:  P for Protector of All Living Things ...

and H for Human Impact on the Environment

... all inspired by the word Ubuntu ... 

Please think on and remember these things ... thanks Michelle ... 

... and enjoy the TED Talk and article

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday 14 February 2014

GrandBlogMom ... Guess who uses this? Ypocras an update ...

Well – you guessed right ...  young Lenny!  I have a new name: GrandBlogMom!  Sharon is BlogMom ... I’ve been elevated to the grand level ... the other age-related connotation I care to forget about!

GrandBlogMom has been a very lucky lady and received a Valentine’s Day card, an ecard and a hamper full of goodies ...

Lenny does not forget either ... he sent some flowers to Linda in the Nursing Centre ... she was so chuffed, and beaming with delight ... I couldn’t get my coat off before she was regaling me about her wonderful blooms.

In these days of American snowstorms, blizzards, floods, coastal storms, major winds, lashing rain, heat-waves in Australia ... we all need cheering up.

On Monday I went up to London to visit “The Worshipful Company of Drapers of the City of London” – thankfully on about the only dry day this week ... but each time I go to London the fields are even more flooded.

A post is coming up ... but relating back to my A-Z postings last year and the Y forYpocras entry ... I was fascinated to read in the history of The Drapers’ the following:

.. one of the benefactors is the Elizabethan antiquary, William Lambarde.  He entrusted the Drapers with the governorship of the almshouses; he also presented the Company with a handsome silver gilt cup and four gallons of ippocras (a spiced wine cordial).

Life fascinates me ... that these connections keep rolling in ... there was another, but that deserves a longer post ...

I called in to see my sister-in-law in the Chancery Lane area of London ... her advice to me and my visit was:

Avoid low lying ground – they have closed the Thames barrier to keep us dry.

I laughed, but some hours later ... the actual point dawned on me ... I was travelling on the Underground – so I was well below river, ground-water and rain level ... the Victorian structures held I am very pleased to say!

Enjoying a glass of Ypocras before it
can get stored!

Anyway enough of thinking about potential disasters, major city floods or similar nasties ... to you all on this Valentine’s Day I toast you with a glass of Ypocras, or perhaps a hot chocolate  ...

... and I can only hope for so many that the jet stream changes course very soon – it is becoming/has become very serious in parts of the UK ...

... and a very big hug to that wonderful, cheery, happy chap Lenny of Lenny's World ... who is always so thoughtful ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday 8 February 2014

Floods and storms ... salt and sugar, and all things nice at the Caviar House ...

I would love my mother to still be alive as she would totally engage in the West Country flooding we are having ... quite extraordinary events ... she would recall stories from her parents' times let alone her 90+ years. 

Looking east towards Newlyn from outskirts of
Penzance - showing breach into Newlyn Green
c/o Adam Gibbard and Daily Mail

When she lived in Newlyn she was always out helping in the community ... there were local floods from excess rain and storms ... but nothing like those we're having now ... 

Walking on Penzance Prom in 1910 - by
an unknown artist

This is what the storms have done this year  ... while here’s a similar postcard dated 1910 ...

Penzance Seafront - c/o Daily Mail

In my M post during last year’s A-Z “M is forMother of the Sea” I included this artwork of Penzance Promenade looking eastwards, away from Newlyn, where my mother lived  ... I’m not sure who painted it ... but the postcards are always available.

Newlyn Village - the seas broached the harbour,
crashing through into the village
c/o BBC Alan Dwan
I’ve practically always driven down to Penzance ... as I’ve been driving for more years than I care to remember ... but on occasions took the train and it was a treat in someways ...

However this sight for sore eyes is one I’ve never seen before: the remains of the railway line’s sea-wall and embankment at Dawlish, after they were torn away by the storm-waves ... the line itself left in animated suspension ... looking, to me, like a rope bridge ...

"The Rope Bridge" - Dawlish
This is the main line from London to Cornwall ... one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s (1806 – 1859) innovative early railway lines (1830s) ... described in Wikipedia:

Dawlish - picturesque railway
line along the seafront

the line is noted as one of the most memorable stretches of track in Britain for its natural beauty, although at a very high cost to Network Rail, as it is one of the most expensive lines to maintain due to the continual battle with sea erosion. 

One storm in 1974 washed away much of the westwards platform in the station and a storm in February 2014 brought down the sea wall and washed away a section of the railway line leaving the track suspended in mid-air”.

I think I prefer my descriptive term of a rope bridge ... but someone has been pretty quick off the mark updating Wikipedia.

Somerset Levels - this land has been underwater
for over a month
  c/o Harvey Hook HotSpot Mediaand the Daily Mail
We are really are being deluged by rain, storms, winds all leading to major damage ... it is now so bad, they can’t pump the water out because the ground is already bubbling water up through the tarmac, people’s houses etc ...

It is unprecedented ... though I’m sure back in aeons of time it’s happened before ... but I feel for those who’ve been flooded x number of times already and probably will be again this weekend ... and those in this last week who’ve had to move their animals ... in some cases to slaughter ...

L and I enjoying our time
at the Caviar House

... however there is nothing that can be done about the jet stream as it stays stuck ... two years ago, when all it did was seem to snow, I wrote about our weather ... so should you wish to know more about the jet stream – this was when we had snow, rather than torrents of rain.

This, we are told, is likely to continue for at least another couple of weeks – please move away jet-stream ... it is just devastating ...

... yet at the same time there's a positive: palaeontologists have been able to explore, photograph, record new fossils and clues from the rock falls, buried forests or 800,000 year old footprints ... 

Selfie with God-mother!

... the seas will once again cover exposed forests and footprints ... but wonderful they've been seen ... leading to a greater understanding of those areas of coast.

Life can take funny turns ... there was a flood at Victoria Station in one of London Underground’s busiest Tube lines ... there were delays ... logical with all the rain we’ve been having ...

Wet Concrete in signalling room
c/o Evening Standard
However think again ... it was wet concrete that had been poured into an escalator void bursting through into the main signalling room next door – 

‘Any worker worth their salt knows you have to be very careful with these materials.  It’s bog standard stuff.’

But they needed sugar ... thankfully someone had some sense ...  there was a run on sugar from the local supermarkets to throw on – as that stops concrete from setting as quickly - why or how ... I don't know!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this story!  Mistakes are made ... but ...

So from us, who stay dry and safe, just inconvenienced at times from the floods or delays – I say cheers!

PS - just to make matters worse .. thieves are targeting 'abandoned' farms and houses .... stealing fuel, farm equipment, etc   People really are despicable.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories 

Monday 3 February 2014

Hilary, Hilary, where have you been? I’ve been to London to look at ... so many theengs! Part 2/2

This one we’re going to rock ‘n roll through .. as the days were damp and wet once again ... we skipped around the puddles and hoped our ventures out coincided with breaks in the clouds ...

First thing we all had to wake up ... youngsters were a little slow!  Medicalgirl nudging Psychogirl and saying we’re late, we gotta go NOW! ... Psychogirl needs tea to start her day ...

My scrambled eggs with
mushrooms ... 

... we caught up – because their brains were a little addled and we didn’t get the text til they were at Covent Garden – good thing they’d grabbed a table ...

... at what is obviously a very popular Belgian restaurant – we concurred after a delicious range of breakfast goodies ... organic eggs, home-made granola, a basket of fresh artisan bread ... surrounded by their speciality spreads: noir organic, blondie, speculoos, raspberry jam ...

Noir Organic

... ham and cheese filled croissants, scrambled eggs and mushrooms, a bowl of fresh fruits, lots of tea and water ... which set us up for the day.

Speculoos and Blondie spreads

Psychogirl decided a sandwich for the train was a good idea ... this is the girls’ take on said sandwich! ... greaseproof paper was under the bread – useful! ... then Medicalgirl provided the plasters to stick the sandwich parcel together ... I don’t think she’s going the surgeon route!!!  Still we had fun watching ... see photo below!

Speculoos spices: pepper, cinnamon,
ginger, cloves, cardoman and nutmeg
Covent Garden wasn’t very vibrant as it was so cold and miserable ... more miserable than cold really, as I cannot compare our weather to that across the pond ... ice-storms etc ... thank goodness we have not had that this year ... but we can easily drown anything ...

... it is SO wet and sodden ... apparently (c/o BBC) it is the wettest weather since 1767, when George III was on the throne and this little Blighty still ran North America!!  Daniel Boone, the English-American pioneer discovered Kentucky ... and a boatload of Europeans landed on Tahiti ...

Dark and gloomy in the covered part of
Covent Garden ... paella and mulled wine
being prepared ... 
We could have had paella? ... but elected to wander around looking at the stalls – then Medicalgirl said she was going off to the Library, and we three wandered around a bit more ...

... returned to the hotel, packed up Pyschogirl for her train back to Birmingham ... not sure how the sandwich survived in a back-pack with a jar of Speculoos packed in on top ...???

Happy sandwich?
Covered in plasters!!
We hailed a taxi – I have to say I was quite surprised how many ‘free’ taxis there were ... but it was cheaper than buying tickets to get up to the Station, so in this instance was worth it ... and kept us away from those heavy showers!

Mostyn Tompion clock
at the British Museum

L and I decided to wander back down to the British Museum to see a small exhibition on Thomas Tompion “The Man Who Tamed Time” ... I wanted to see the clock he’d made in about 1692 ... called the Mostyn Tompion.

... but I will need to return to see the Clocks and Watches in the Djanogly Gallery at the Museum ... more tea at the British Museum, then a brief lie down before ...

The Real Greek at the
Kemble's Head (ex pub)

... we felt we needed some warming food ... and went off to a Greek Restaurant near Covent Garden ... spotted by L as we’d walked backwards and forwards!


Plates of Kleftiko, greek salads, lagers and glasses of retsina helped us natter away enjoying the company of a close friend ... and catching up after the last few years ... 

A Dugong - not one of the winning photos -
but the two Dugong photos entranced us ..
though we loved the African reminders!

... we shared a breakfast ... and set off to the Natural History Museum for our last dose of education!  L had wanted to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year2013 exhibition ... where all 50 photographic exhibits were on show, including quite a few from Africa – where we’d met all those 21+ years ago ... 

Colonnaded entrance to the
Natural History Museum, London

I’m so pleased we went and again had a closer look at what’s on offer elsewhere at the museum ... enough to whet one’s appetite for many more visits.

It was buzzing ... with little and large humans!  We had a farewell cup of tea and a soup ... in preparation for the journeys home ...

The enormous dinosaur greeting all visitors
in the entrance gallery

... thus ending a fun memorable weekend for one and all – and one I'm sure we will repeat sometime.

Photos are scarce ... as god-daughter’s grandfather has since passed on to other horizons (L’s father-in-law) ...

... my building/ dusting/ sorting is almost at an end – not quite gone according to plan, but now I’m getting there ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories