New­est link in the chain dis­con­nects

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO -

TheHive,

I pro­pose that Mother Na­ture has greater plans for us than what she has been able to achieve and that we are liv­ing amid a growth spurt in hu­man evo­lu­tion. Let’s re­view the de­vel­op­ments. In 1974, re­searchers came across bone frag­ments in Ethiopia that rep­re­sented a cross­roads in evo­lu­tion.

Lucy, as they called her, was a hairy, ape­like crea­ture that lived 3.2 mil­lion years ago. She had a small brain like a chim­panzee’s. But her legs were longer and arms shorter than her simian cousin’s.

What set her apart was a knee struc­ture that al­lowed her to walk up­right — a du­bi­ous gift, con­sid­er­ing she lived in the tree­tops. Lucy is thought to have fallen to her death.

This Day, That Year

Item­fromJuly6,1985,in Chi­naDaily:Just­the­wayit used­tobe...

Li­ulichang,Bei­jing’s300year-old­cul­tural­mar­ket,has been­re­stored­toit­so­rig­i­nal styleaftern­ear­ly40shops alongth­estreetwere­com­plete­lyre­built­in­tra­di­tional style.

The1-kilo­me­ter-longstreet look­s­a­sit­did­dur­ingthe QingDy­nasty(1644-1911), whenthean­cient­cap­i­tal’s res­i­dentswent­there­to­buy cal­lig­ra­phyand­paint­ings.

The 800-year-old Li­ulichang mar­ket has been de­vel­oped into a hub for

Lucy was a link in an evo­lu­tion­ary chain that over 1 mil­lion years led from her to the early hu­man species Homo erec­tus, or Up­right Man.

Homo erec­tus had lost the pro­tec­tive hair cov­er­ing, but had many ad­van­tages over apes. Diges­tive changes per­mit­ted him to gorge on meat, nour­ish­ing his larger brain with pro­tein. He put this brain­power to work de­vel­op­ing hand tools and tam­ing fire, and he thrived in small hunter-gath­erer so­cial groups.

Homo erec­tus sub­species fol­lowed, some of which, like Pek­ing man and Nan­jing Man, lived in China. But they even­tu­ally died out and were re­placed about 200,000 years ago by Homo sapi­ens, Wise Man.

That’s us, sleeker than Erec­tus, more of a thinker, and drawn to so­cial struc­tures. Are we the pin­na­cle of the evo­lu­tion­ary chain?

We have our faults, like an­tiques and cul­tural prod­ucts in the cap­i­tal.

Dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911), it saw many busi­ness­men and ven­dors deal­ing in cu­rios and old books. The tra­di­tion con­tin­ues to this day, with the China Book­store, Rong­baozhai, Laix­unge and Yidege be­ing the mar­ket’s most fa­mous an­tiques stores.

As one of Bei­jing’s 25 pro­tected his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural ar­eas in the old city area, it at­tracts large groups of tourists and devo­tees of tra­di­tional cul­ture.

In re­cent years, the municipal and dis­trict gov­ern- our mea­ger pro­tec­tive cov­er­ing. Hav­ing to walk ev­ery­where can be tire­some. And let’s face it, the con­stant crowds can be damned an­noy­ing.

Note, too, Mother Na­ture takes her time: a mil­lion years for Erec­tus, a mil­lion or two for Sapi­ens.

A new hu­man species is emerg­ing, and they’re tak­ing mat­ters into their own hands.

Erec­tus used his larger ments have made great progress in im­prov­ing the in­fra­struc­ture and restor­ing the orig­i­nal ap­pear­ance of the area, in­clud­ing build­ing park­ing lots and crack­ing down on il­le­gal struc­tures.

While pro­tect­ing the al­ley brain to make prim­i­tive tools to shape the world around him. Sapi­ens is lift­ing this skill to new heights to move him­self up the evo­lu­tion­ary lad­der.

You can see them among us. They are creative, like Sapi­ens, but where the Wise Man used his tal­ents to cut a path through the world around him, the new­com­ers cut off that world.

They zip by in her­met­i­cally sealed, tinted-win­dowed, air-con­di­tioned au­to­mo­biles. They dis­tract­edly me­an­der along side­walks, earplugs in, eyes hid­den be­hind sunglasses and glued to small hand-held screens.

These screens are the por­tal to the vir­tual world they fre­quent, where they con­gre­gate in vir­tual so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions and amass vir­tual friends.

Vir­tu­ally a new species. Be­hold, Homo dis­con­nec­tus.

Con­tact the writer at ly­don@chi­nadaily.com.cn from rapid ur­ban­iza­tion, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have also em­braced the in­ter­net age with Li­ulichang’s first on­line auc­tions held last year.

The move has en­hanced the street’s brand value and rep­u­ta­tion.

AN­DREW WINNING / REUTERS

Chil­dren play in­side an in­stal­la­tion by artist Wolf­gang But­tress, at Kew Gar­dens in Lon­don on Satur­day.

CAI MENG / CHINA DAILY

Homo dis­con­nec­tus

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