Sunday, June 7, 2009

In Answer to Jonathon Swift and The Lone Duck

Yesterday, I wrote about Col. Robert Johnson the man who bravely ate tomatoes in front of hundreds of people to prove he wouldn't die. One of my most satirical readers challenged me to answer another food mystery about a brave man. This is my answer.

NPR Morning Edition Oct.18,2007

"Scientists exploring a cave in South Africa report evidence of shellfish dinners enjoyed by humans who lived 164,000 years ago. Anthropologists say the find could point to one of the earliest examples of modern behavior.

The discovery also calls to mind a line from 18th-century satirist Jonathan Swift: "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster." But now, the first people to eat shellfish may have been found.

Anthropologist Curtis Marean of Arizona State University reported on what he found in a cave in a rocky bluff by the ocean at Pinnacle Point.

"Not only do we see them eating shellfish, but there is a whale barnacle, a special species of barnacle that only appears on the skin of a whale," Marean said. "So that's a clear piece of evidence that they brought in a chunk of whale skin and blubber and ate it at that site, so what we have is the earliest dated systematic use of marine resources."

Scientists say culture makes us "modern" humans, as opposed to our primitive predecessors. By many measures, the new find suggests that modern human behaviors began earlier than previously believed. Modern homo sapiens is believed to have evolved about 200,000 years ago. But it took a long time for a "human" culture to develop. Anthropologists are still trying to figure out when such "modern behavior" began.'...

...And there was one more thing: a collection of small blades made of stone. Researchers say those are the fine tools that probably would have been set in a piece of bone or wood, like teeth in a saw blade.

The stone blades and the shellfish collecting are examples of increasingly sophisticated behavior. ...

...Discoveries like that made at Pinnacle Point are rare, especially along coastlines. Sea levels have risen several times over the past 200,000 years, and the oceans would have flooded many coastal cave dwellings.

Marean's cave site at Pinnacle Point is well above sea level and escaped that fate, leaving behind the cast-off shell of what may have been the first bold human to have eaten an oyster."

Now, I'm not saying that "the first bold man to have eaten an oyster" was a hero. In fact, I very much doubt "the first bold man to have eaten an oyster" was even a man! Women have historically been hunter gathers as well and in coastal tribes it was the women who fished and created the baskets in which to carry her groceries.

I think it was more likely that Oolna was the one who observed the birds smashing the oyster shells against the rocks and devouring the succulent flesh. Tired from her day's work, and trying to decide what to make Og for dinner that night, she finally said ,"What the heck." and managed to grab one of the smashed shells before the gull got to it.

She probably was so delighted when she swallowed the oyster tha
t her energy was renewed and she hastened to gather a mess of them. If Og was anything like my Geezerguy, who refuses to have anything to do with raw fish, I'll bet she had a good laugh as she imagined the look on her mate's face when she handed him his dinner.

You want me to eat what???

See ya down the road,



~loneduck~ said...

Well that answers that question. one by one the great mysteries of life are being answered. soon there will be no wonder left in the world no discoveries... no worlds left to conquer.


Yarntangler said...

There will always be the question of how to keep one step ahead of your kids!

Geezerguy said...

Good one...I just hope Og appreciated how hard it is to take anything from a hungry gull.

Old Newsie said...

Methinks YT is outshining ON in her rfesarch - finding stuff her father never knew -but so what I applaud the zeal, read the stuff and say "oh?"