You probably know some people who have more mobile ears than the rest of us – grandfathers in particular seem to be pretty good at it, though that might just start to occur when they first have grandchildren. However, about eighty-five percent of the population on Earth are unable to make their ears shake and shimmy in any meaningful way. How come some people can do this and not others?
The belief is that this control over the ears comes from when early primates, the distant ancestors of humans, could move their ears in the direction of sounds in order to better hear them. However, humans now have specific ridges and curls to help them tell which direction something is coming from, even if our hearing isn’t as strong as many other animals.
The Big Mount Toba Blast
Mount Toba is found on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, and when it blew its top around seventy-four thousand years ago, it was the most massive eruption the world had seen for approximately two million years. It blew an intense amount of rubble and ash into the air, which caused temperatures to drop quickly, creating a volcanic winter so bad that it almost drove humans to extinction.
However, some groups were able to flourish during this time. As far away as South Africa, evidence of Toba ash has been found, as well as evidence that the early humans who lived there not only survived but thrived. More than four hundred thousand artifacts have been recovered that showed they knew tools, how to make fire, and had generational homes.
How Were Neanderthals Different?
Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens weren’t the same creatures, but they were pretty close. They likely had a shared ancestor species, but their competition with Homo Sapiens didn’t really go their way – which should have been easy to tell, since we’re here on Earth and they aren’t. However, these creatures were actually stronger than Homo Sapiens.
On the other hand, they were shorter and had a smaller prefrontal cortex – which leads many to believe they could win the species war due to their inability to figure out problems like their Homo Sapien cousins could. Scientists aren’t actually sure why the Neanderthals died out. There’s a whole lot of history there, and a lot of things that could have happened. Their best bet is that Homo Sapiens were at least a big help.
The Eight Missing Species
Three hundred thousand years ago, there were nine members of the human species. About ten thousand years ago, eight of them had disappeared. This widespread mass extinction has never been fully explained, but likely it’s due to a number of reasons. One of the bigger reasons was that Homo Sapiens were ferocious hunters and fighters, and they sent many prey animals to extinction, which likely affected plenty of other species, too.
It could also be that Homo Sapiens, territorial and expansive as we are, fought with other human species for resources, driving those other species to where they were too small to continue without being absorbed by Homo Sapiens. Neanderthals lasted the longest, and some of their skeletons show marks of warfare and battle, showing that they at least tried to fight back. But Homo Sapiens are number one, baby.
That Little Bump in Your Eye
If you’ve ever wondered about the tiny little bump in the inner corner of your eye, it’s a genetic leftover from a third eyelid (as opposed to the top and bottom eyelids). That third eyelid was slightly transparent or translucent, meaning that we could keep our eyes protected while still being able to see. A lot of water-dwelling reptiles and water birds have them since they need to dive down to snag some tasty fish.
Not only does this add a little bit of protection, but it maintains the proper kind of moisture on the eyes – no doubt you’re aware that too little or too much moisture can make your eyes start hurting quite a bit. We wish we could still use this one, but some things have to go the way of the dodo.