Friday, March 22, 2013

Skull-blogging: In the country of the blind, the large-eyed man is a friendless social outcast *

What sad fate befall the no-longer-extant Neandertals? If you believe certain WAKEUPSHEEPLE websites, natural disasters broke their bloodthirsty grip on power and led to their extirpation at the hands of their erstwhile Cro-Magnon slaves; they linger on as the Nephilim in folk memories from the time of their dominion. The similarity between this scenario and the story-arc of Battlefield Earth certainly adds to its credibility. It hardly seems fair for they in turn were only puppets of the Starlord Empire. I am not making this up.

Another theory has it that the last Neandertals were recruited by time-travelling talent scouts and transported into the future to act in local repertory productions of Wells' "Time Machine" in the role of the Morlocks. This on account of their enlarged eyes and deficiency of social graces. This theory follows as a natural corollary* of a recent observation: the eye-sockets of Neandertal skulls were 6% larger than those of their Cro-Magnon contemporaries, as an adaptation to the dimmer light of Ice-Age Europe. The Eloi parts are / will be filled by recruiting the remnant population of Homo floresiensis.

According to Pearce &c, the newly-arrived Cro-Magnons were not so well adapted to local illumination. However, they were better able to cooperate in bands and tribes because less of their brains was dedicated to visual processing, leaving more cortex to compute the intricacies of social interaction. Hence their success in out-competing their Morlock cousins.
Neandertal skull [left]. More fractures, due
to -- or causing -- reduced social facility
A similar theory explains the disappearance of the Denisovan people of Siberia: their bland diet of dumplings, millet gruel and borscht forced them to evolve over-sized tongues, and to dedicate too much of their brains to gustatory processing. Leaving only Gene Simmons as the sole survivor of the race.
To say nothing of Homo schwarzeneggeris, doomed by their oversized hands.

Pearce supported her theory by measuring eye-socket capacity from anthropologists' skull collections. More northerly populations have larger skulls, also bigger sockets and presumably eyeballs. To show that visual acuity is equally good for people from all latitudes, Pearce cites century-old visual acuity tests administered to tropical populations by the Myers expedition of 1902 and the Rivers Ethnological Expedition of 1898 [I confess, I lost track of the logic at this point]. The theory predicts that cursed as they are with large eyes, the Inuit of Ultima Thule are not able to make clothes or act cooperatively in groups and could never have survived in their extreme Arctic environment.

It is a silly idea, so I am surprised by its absence so far from the pages of the Com-Post (Wellington's paper of note), encountering it only through M. Bouffant's blog. Pearce admits in passing that for a larger eyeball to be more sensitive and compensate for dimmer light, the number of ganglion cells in the enlarged retina must remain the same -- these are the ones sending messages back to the brain -- with each one pooling signals from a larger catchment area of cone-cell photoreceptors. There is no reason for the total acreage of cortex devoted to the visual sensorium to change.

But let it not be said that Riddled will condemn new ideas out of hand. Even ones coming from you small-eyed gossipy Cro-Magnon bubblebrains. We can test the claim of a good correlation between large eyes and poor social skills -- with SCIENCE. Fortunately there are subjects with enlarged eyes left over from earlier trials with the Evolvamat, sparing us the need to convene a fresh Ethics Review Panel (i.e. Greenish Hugh and Space-Time Eddie, who typically demand a minimum of three pints each of Sasquatch Chick-pea Stout before they'll tick the Approved box).

The subjects seem to be coping well with one-on-one interactions with the soldier. Let's see how well they handle the multiple demands of a larger group.

Never mind.
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* Alternative title: Your moonstone eyes are twice the size of human kind.

** Throckmorton's composition "Corollary in A Natural" should not be confused with "Hypothesis in D Minor" or "Postulate in B Flat" from his later, more symphonic phase.

16 comments:

Substance McGravitas said...

That makes no sense at all. Porky pig clearly got SMARTER as his eyes grew larger.

mikey said...

My personal experimental contribution was to always keep to paper towel rollers handy, and when the LSD would begin to take hold I would hold one up to each eye while directing them in different directions. I always found the experience of looking at two different things in a simultaneous but non-stereoscopic manner to be...stimulating...

H. Rumbold, Master Barber said...

Get out the nephelometer.

ckc (not kc) said...

...I think "anatomically modern humans" is a perfect synonym for "politicians"

ckc (not kc) said...

...just closing my eyes and groping about (socially) [ouch..damn!]

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

In the country of the blind, the large-eyed man is a friendless social outcast

Hundred-eyed Argus is weeping bitter tears, and causing local flooding conditions.

It hardly seems fair for they in turn were only puppets of the Starlord Empire. I am not making this up.

I think I heard about this on Late Night Sasquatch Radio. This "theory" needs more Nikola Tesla, though, before I'll give it credence.

Smut Clyde said...

So, the mole men and the Deros. Do they adjust to their subterranean existence by evolving increasingly large eyes, or by following the half-blind cave-fish vestigial-eye route? If the former is the case then by devoting more of their brains to visual processing they leave less for plotting the downfall of surface civilisation. If the latter then they are becoming smarter and more able to coordinate their activities, and we do have something to worry about.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

These Deros still lived in the cave cities, according to Shaver, kidnapping surface-dwelling people by the thousands for meat or torture.

Meat Or Torture = band name.
~

mikey said...

I have it on very good authority that the two are in no way mutually exclusive...

M. Bouffant said...

Good to know I'm sillier than the Com-Post. (Lord knows I try.)

Here is information that moochers who rely on the kindnesses of strangers might want to look into. Fend for yourselves, parasites!

M. Bouffant said...

Band name hell. LIFESTYLE!!!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Is eddie's last name Continuum?

B. Spencer said...

I'm confused. What does Superman have to do with the Nephilim people?

mikey said...

Word to the Smutster.

Paradise.net.nz throwing a permanant fatal error. Thinking they might know who I am. Alternatively, they might know who YOU are. Nonetheless, the answer is a conditional YES.

Smut Clyde said...

A pox upon certain e-mail service providers. Contacting mikey through emergency back-up channels.

alison said...

'Tis an extremely silly idea. One was expecting you to say it had been published in that august journal, Medical Hypotheses...