The recent great apes of Africa

•September 2, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Today 4 great apes still survive in Africa all of which share a more recent common ancestor to the exclusion of the Asiatic Pongo and appear to have diversified relatively recently from a common ancestor in Africa. The 4 African great apes display the following indisputable phylogenetic relationship:
(((Homo(Pan paniscus, P.troglodytes))Gorilla)Pongo)
Molecular studies strongly support a divergence of Homo from the Pan lineage at best around 4.5 Million years ago. In contrast the fossil hunters have been digging up an amazing array of fossil apes from Africa that have only resulted in more questions than answers with respect to affinities between various apes, their divergence times and their biogeography. Let us look at these apes and some issues:

-There are at least 3 representatives of genus Homo that nobody doubts are closer to extant Homo sapiens than any other great ape: 1) H.habilis, 2) H.erectus and archaic H.sapiens. There is the popular belief that H.habilis spawned the later H.erectus, which in turn spawned H.sapiens. Nevertheless, recent finds increasingly support the proposal where the two species overlap : H.habilis and H.erectus seem to have overlapped by around 500,000 years suggesting that they were sister species. Further, these finds like those based on the skull cap KNM-ER 42700 raise the possibility that H.erectus could have shown major sexual dimorphism, comparable to that seen in Gorilla. This is in contrast to H.sapiens where the dimorphism is low. Hence, it is possible that H.sapiens did not descend directly from H.erectus but archaic versions of H.sapiens were representatives of a sister lineage to H.erectus. Thus, we have the possibility that the divergence of these two Homo species was related to differential niche colonization and life-style divergence, rather than a linear model of one spawning the other. Finally, with respect to archaic H.sapiens there is the question of what is its relationship with modern early-branching African H.sapiens. None the less, in the absence of further fossils that situation is far from resolved.


Dramatic size variation in adult Homo erectus, with retention of anatomical similarity

-In addition to these problems, there is the issue of the relationship between African H.erectus and H.habilis with the early Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia. Some have taken these Eurasian specimens to imply a possible origin for early Homo in Eurasia followed by back migration to Africa.

H.rudolfensis: Based on the absence of the characteristic supraorbital torus seen in H.habilis specimens like KNM ER 1813 or OH24 and a much large cranial capacity it was assumed that KNM ER 1470 is a different species of Homo from H.habilis. This species was termed H.rudolfensis and could potentially represent a precursor/sister group of H.sapiens, whereas H.habilis is exclusively allied with H.erectus (for example KNM ER 1813 might show an incipient transverse torus as seen in H.erectus). However, in the absence of further remains we cannot be sure of whether H.rudolfensis is indeed distinct or merely a part of the morphological variation spectrum shown by Homo of that period.

-The Australopithecines: The australopithecines clearly appear to be closer to Homo than to Pan. 3 major forms of australopithecines are recognized along with many other “controversial” forms. They are 1) A.afarensis 2) A.africanus and 3) the robust australopithecines, which are often given a separate genus Paranthropus and 3 “species” are recognized within them: P.aethiopicus, P.boisei, and P.robustus. Their robust flared skulls with enormous muscle attachment sites like the striking sagittal crest suggest a highly specialized ecology in terms of high fiber vegetable diet. More recently several other species have been named:
A.anamensis– this appears to be an form of the A.afarensis, currently going back to 4.1 MYA. It has been recognized a different species mainly due to its early age, but morphologically is within the observed variability of A.afarensis and probably represents the earliest members of that lineage. It is interesting to note that it is close to the molecular dates for the human-chimp split suggesting that chimp-human lineage inter-mating might have continued to about the time “A.anamensis” i.e. the earliest representatives of A.afarensis appeared.

A.bahrelghazali
: this is the western-most specimen of an australopithecine ape, and all that is known of it is a single mandible that appears to be very close to A.afarensis. However, on the basis of a 3-rooted premolar it was made a separate species. Most likely it represents a poorly known western population of A.afarensis that might have at best undergone regional diversification.

A.garhi: this ape appears to be a larger version of A.afarensis. However, it was given a separate species status because of it is unusually large premolars and molars. It is also reported as having a crest, which is reminiscent of the robust australopithecines. Post-crania from the same site suggest a long femur, like Homo for this species. Its describers are fairly certain that it might represent a transitional form between A.afarensis and Homo. Given the scrappy nature of the finds it remains unclear if it might represent a distinct species of Australopithecus or a variant of A.afarensis.


Convergence of ramal anatomy of australopithecines and Gorilla as discovered by Rak et al.

The comparisons of jaw morphologies suggest that the well-established 3 australopithecine species share a derived jaw morphology, which appears to be convergently very close that of the Gorilla. The Homo lineage in contrast retains the primitive state. It has hence been proposed that the well-established australopithecine lineages may hence be precluded from human ancestry. In light of this, we need to see what the anatomy of A.garhi is, if it ever becomes better known, and whether it might be closer to Homo. But the take-home message is that convergence between related apes can mess up phylogeny, especially when we are dealing with such fragmentary remains.

Kenyanthropus platyops: While described as a new ape contemporaneous with A.afarensis there has been much debate about its validity due to the poor preservation of the fossil. However, one should note that it has a small external acoustic porus compared to other australopithecines suggesting that it might indeed be a distinct lineage. Some have noted similarities with H.rudolfensis, but these may indeed be superficial and convergent. Yet again this is another case of a tantalizing fossil without a proper phylogenetic home.


Dental similarity of Ardipithecus kadabba and P.troglodytes

Ardipithecus, Orrorin and Sahelanthropus: These 3 apes appear to be the oldest of the apes belonging to the African great ape clade. All the 3 apes have been claimed to be in the human lineage to the exclusion of Pan. All three have been claimed to be erect bipedal walkers. One group has even gone as far as a to claim that all 3 are even the same genus of ape. However, they are all quite enigmatic as yet, and all of the above claims are definitely debatable and probably even incorrect. Ardipithecus ramidus, which was identified first was claimed to be on the human lineage, after its divergence from the chimps and the common ancestor of the Australopithecines from which Homo is eventually believed to have been derived. Subsequently a second species, Ardipithecus kadabba was described. Ar.ramidus was dated to about 4.5 MYA, whereas Ar.kadabba was dated as being 5.4-5.8 MYA. By the molecular criteria Ar.kadabba squarely falls in the period when the chimp and human lineages were still mating and probably only barely separated. Consistent with this Ar.kadabba is very chimp-like especially in its dental features, like the upper-canine lower premolar occlusion. This raises questions regarding whether the available features truly distinguish whether Ardipithecus belongs to the chimp to human lineage. Between Ar.kadabba and Ar.ramidus are we seeing gradual divergence or is it merely an issue of sample size?

Orrorin is dated to around 6 MYA is again fragmentary and poorly described. Sahelanthropus has recently been re-interpreted and definitely seems to belong outside of the Homo lineage. Based on molecular criteria both these apes seem to be members of common ancestral lineage of Pan and Homo. They either represent the common ancestor itself or radiations of that ancestral lineage. Most striking is the biogeography of Sahelanthropus — like “A.bahrelghazali” it is from central Africa suggesting that around 6 MYA the great apes of Africa were already well distributed over the continent. It also shows how little we know of the real spread of the African great ape clade. This has considerable consequences for inferences regarding the ancestral habitat of this clade, as well as the role of habitat, if any, in the emergence of the human lineage.


Comparison of Chororapithecus and Gorilla

Chororapithecus abyssinicus: The latest of the African great apes to be reported. It is a pathetic assemblage of a few gorilla-like teeth from a 10 MY old Chorora formation near Afar. The teeth surely look like a gorilla in gross as well as a certain subtle features of enamel-dentine ratios, but they are too little to say much, given the rampant convergence of various dental and mandibular features amongst great apes. All we can say is that there was a large gorilla-sized great ape around 10-11 MYA in Africa. This definitely fills in the “ape gap” of Africa and raises questions as to whether the African great apes are a re-invasion from Eurasia (after the Sivapithecus-Pongo lineage migrated there). After all this means African great apes could have emerged in Africa itself from a Dryopithecus-like form and only the Pongo lineage left to Eurasia.

The signal for the long drawn charge

•September 1, 2007 • Leave a Comment

How did we get to this state:
* The imprisonment
* kR^ityA troubles
* The kR^ityA strike
* The kR^ityAstra strike
* Towards the battle of kAla-nirNaya
* Battle of himaprArambha
* The 3 front war
We stood there alone waiting for the signal. Suddenly, in the cooling air we heard a rustle. Our agent arrived from the far end. We were sensing the moment of the great struggle — would we live or die ? The outcome was unknown to us as it will occur only in the future, and no man knows what the future will be. The agent standing at some distance spoke: “yes the fight is real and you know how you got there. You have recorded all the steps, with the 2 mAraNa strikes after and the one before the funerary day in the 5th month of the civil year. You have journeyed through the various naraka-s after your fall like that of yayAtI. But a free man cannot remain long in the state of suppression. He has to fight– if he dies in the process he is relieved of his suffering. If he lives he rules the world like yudhiShThira even if he has lost much. But there are some paths that lead to deeper naraka-s with more suffering be sane not take those paths again. You have done that before and do not want to do that again.”

We : “What are they after?”
The agent said: “They are not like Fourier, who battled only for honor. They want the hiraNya rukma-s. Fourier only relied on mantra prayoga. They will try to use all means. One needs to be utterly ruthless in dealing with them — but beware they can exploit every weakness and chink. They will be ready to deploy much large forces than during the khANDavan battle.”

We :”What about the last vIra?”
Agent: “He will tied up with the mlechCha senA from gajalaNDapura.”

1998 redux

•September 1, 2007 • Leave a Comment

14th July 2007
It looked as though the khANDavans have launched the biggest attack yet. To put it simply it was devastating. The intelligence agents reported that there were only two paths leading from the point of the original encounter. The deficiencies on the kosha front would force a comparable encounter irrespective of the path chosen, sooner or later. Before we could rally our troops we saw the vile khANDavans attack every where. They broke into our at two points treasury and were stealing our dhana. They attacked 3 of our prime allies and prevented them from merging with our forces. Then came the 1998 redux on the kosha front ! Truly the decoration on the ghost from the past! That more or less diverted our most of our sena which was in fighting : we deployed “haridra” on that front. That kR^ityA of the khANDavans moved on us like that pratya~ngirasa kR^ityA of rudra approached ushanas kAvya. She was most horrid and terrifying — her very sight sucked out our valor like a spider sucking out the juices of its victim. She caused us to lose our mind, even as we watched it slowly desert us, fully aware of the situation. She broke the power of our yoga like rudra utterly consuming that of kAvya. Our powers became submerged and we were unable to command our rudderless men. In the chaos of battle like the asura-s looking for shukra they came to us. But with our luster lost like that of agni before khANDava-dahana, we were unable to lead them against the surging khANDavans. The khANDavans who kill the very people who help, hurled flames at them in an attempt to extirpate them. The khANDavans stole our money, bored into us like a malarial parasite making its way to the victim’s liver and left us tossing like a ship heading towards wreckage in a storm. Like the tubercular actinomycete or an infestation of Entamoeba or a simply a persistant dog that never releases its bite they refused to go away. We ran from pillar to post like madhurai nakIrar trying to escape the wrath of the The god, but from every nook and cranny emerged the hideous face of the khANDavan kR^ityA threatening to swallow us like a krill entering a whale’s maw. Thus, routed by the khANDavans with our kingdom and triple wealth in disarray, with no deva or asura bearing us aid, we fled into the house of JC and SB to spend the night.


13th March 2007
9th June 2007

We much terror we remembered the visitation that came upon Charlotte on July 4th 1998. We had to go see Charlotte and return to our kShetra within a matter of 1/2 hour, including a wait of 8 minutes at Charlotte’s place. It was then that we were ambushed by that — never was it more terrifying. We felt exactly like how dakSha would have felt when when he saw vIrabhadra roaring into to his yAga shAla from the skies accompanied by a hoard of pramatha-s and bhUta-s. I returned to my kShetra and 4 minutes latter drove away on the ratha with ekanetra and parshudADhika. 10 minutes later we rendezvoused with R. She who is like urvashI and having the mana radiating like a Maori queen (OK now don’t kill me – had to say it) had dismounted from her ratha and having lowered her trademark sunshades was pensively fiddling with them. She saw we uncouth ruffians dismount from our ratha and signaled to follow her ratha. ekanetra became frantic asking for ST, when I pointed out that she was there and seated next to R. I had forgotten about the ambush and was in the the exultant company of my fellows. We stopped at Hayasthanika’s residence and moved in. parshudADhika and piShTamukha, as befitting their stations, started swilling liquors with Hayasthanika and her boisterous friends. ekanetra and me were huddled in one corner in making silent anthropological observations. R came up to us but she avoided eye contact still wearing her dark shades in the dim lit room of Hayasthanika. She asked to come out into the lawn and we did so. She raised her shades in the dark evening and made a statement (in saMdhya bhASha): “The seeker of the penguin and one who holds the skull of the phorusrhacid will flank you.”
I: “What a glorious moment that would be”.
R: “It will be without dimensions and remember nightmares can come true”.
I: “Nightmares?”.
R: “When we visited Charlotte’s den, we felt the presence”.
I: “It will pass.”
R: “You will be tested in battle, and these are not going to be the mock battles we simulated lazing atop the vAnara parvata or the hill of chaNDikA. This will be the real world”.
I: “But, when did you learn of these battles of the real world?”
R: “These years when we did not see each other?”
I: “But you never spoke of this when we were on the long drive by the Brazos”
R: “Why spoil the mirth when we have the chance to experience it?”
I: “When will the yuddha commence?”
R: “It has begun today!”

These last words missed my attention then.

ekanetra dropped me off near the upward slope and drove away on his ratha. I walked away with my mind filled with pleasant anticipatory thoughts for the night. But what we saw was a fearsome dream, so much so that we really woke up in a sweat. A week and then a month passed we knew the grAhi was upon us. We were being borne away by the ariShTas that followed like one attempting cross the river of yama. What seemed so close to us was now like on a different galaxy.

varuNa has brought us aid freed us from that deadly pasha.
viShNu revealed the mystery of the haridra prayoga.

An example of kalhaNa’s poetry

•August 30, 2007 • Leave a Comment

guhon-mukhI nAga-mukhApIta bhuripayA ruchiM | gaurI yatra vitastAtvaM yAtApyayujjhati nochitAM | (rAja-tara~NgiNI 1.29)
Even though gaurI has assumed the form of vitastA, she does not leave her innate inclinations-
she turns her face towards guha (kumAra) and the elephant-faced one (nAga-mukha- vinAyaka) drinks her abundant, tasteful milk OR [she flows towards the ravine (guhon-mukhi) and distributary streams (nAgamukhA= snake-mouths) drain her abundant tasteful water.]

vitastA is identified with gaurI because the river is born in himavat, just as gaurI.

On king yudhiShThira’s path

•August 27, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I had a lengthy conversation with KR on topic typical of our conversation — the decline of the dharma. Just when I came out of it the horror of negligence struck me… But I walked through the crematorium like vikrama uttering the guhya mantra.

“Every day men watch others like them die, yet they believe they might live one”.
We flew out on the high path borne. No yakShiNi was with us, yet we soared transcending the sAgara-s and dvIpa-s. We moved back and forth in time and space as though none of it limited us. We stood high above the stone building we had frequented in the days of bhoga. That mAyA jAla that had wrecked us on the one day in the ekAdasham came upon us like a spider’s web. We were reminded of the sand-cockroach caught in the large nephelioid spider’s web, with a kleptoparastic male having a ball of a time. We now evaded it soaring away and then diving back like a sand-piper. We came face to face with guhyasomA; she too had arrived there on her long flight. We were lost in her embrace–every moment of it was like draught of tIvra soma, the limitations of space and time had ended. I saw the bhallUka that ambushed me in front of all on that fateful day in the ekadasham, when kulu~ncha putra hurled a spear at me. But guhyasomA capable of parAkAya-pravesha entered the body of both the bhallUka and kulu~nchaputra at the same time and neutralized them.

With our arms wrapped around pretty guhyasomA, like the roots of an ashvatta tree, with our minds merged into one we advanced to the the great circle of the shmashAna. We drank the soma from the graha of the shining moon. Around us in the reflection of the white graha we saw bones and corpses. Some burnt, some waiting to be burnt and other reduced to ashes. Like the king of the kuru-s on his last walk we walked surrounded by the air of mR^ityu – the smell of oxidizing proteins permeated the air. But we were accompanied by guhyasomA, with the masses of her hair like the monsoonal clouds stretching over the parched bhAratavarsha, exciting in us the rasa-s like parjanya the indra-gopaka-s and nIlaparvata-s. The light reflecting of the upAmshu cup falling on her breasts stirred us from within with the force of ana~Nga, even as a timi~Ngala agitating the high seas. The sweet smell emanating from guhyasomA was like the gandha-vAha blowing the unguents of indra’s svarga with a bevy of apsarA-s. The cup of soma dipped down to pour the oblations to the deva-band led by shatamanyu. For a moment the sky stood in stillness at the point of the saMdhyA. guhyasomA closed our eyes with her soft palms that felt like the balm of the ashvin-s.

At that point the AkAsha above and the chid-gagana became one. We enfolded guhyasomA and a tremendous energy entered us -our age vanished and we became young again – there was light but no luminary. We attained the state of varuNa propping up the nakShatra of the day in our system. I said to guhyasomA: “I am the mayUkha of viShNu, you are the AkAsha. I am free from the limitations.” In that AkAsha only one luminary then rose on the Eastern rim- she was bhAnavIkaulinI. guhyasomA said to me: “Behold me O bhArgava, Let the chit receive the reflection of the avyaya-s and let the manas not screen it. Behold me and let the unfolding happen in the chid-gagana” The krama of thirteen kAlI-s fill the revolution of time– The essence of rasas that induce ullAsa flashed all at once with the emergence of each kAlI. For a moment we saw the glory of the the 13 devI-s, all conjoined with the bIja prefixes and the ambA pAda suffix.

The 27 kalA-s of devasenA

•August 24, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The kaushika prashna of the kaumArAgama gives the 27 fold kalA mantra-s of the goddess devasenA. skanda-patnI should be meditated as being taken as a wife by the fiery son of agni or rudra. Each kalA mantra is made from one of the following 27 names of devasenA:

OM shachIsutA cha devI cha devasenA cha sundarI |
utpalA puShpadhArI cha pItAmbara-pariveShTitA ||
IshvarI cha mahAdevI lakShmI vijaya-sAdhakI |
ramaNI dAminI cha vAsavI saubhAgyadAyinI ||
airavata-kulodbhUtA devendratanayA shachI |
ekarUpI mahAshakti sthula-sUkShma-bhavAni cha |
sAranga-lochanI kekI kR^ittikA-priya-kAntakI |
sarvaishvaryapradA chaiva skanda-prItA cha bhAminI ||

They are combined with 27 sets of bIja-s
1) bAlA trayaM 2) tripurA trayaM 3) bhuvana trayaM 4) mahAlakShmI 5) mAyA 6) madana 7) vANI 8) shakti 9) mahAmAyA 10) manu 11) tantramUlaM 12)dashA~Nga dasha bIjaM 13) vAsavI 14) dR^iShTi 15) shakti 16) mAyA 17) kIlaka 18) pa~ncha bhUta pa~ncha bIjaM 19 indra 20) agni 21) yama 22) nirR^itti 23) varuNa 24) vAyu 25) kubera 26) IshAna 27) prANa trayaM

These are then combined in dative with namaH to obtain the final mantras.

The manufacture of opinion and suppression of freedoms

•August 21, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Many years ago I was being subject to an English examination by an American. The first question he asked me was what is freedom. I defined it for him. Then he asked if I came from a free country. I answered : “Sort of”. A bit surprised he asked: “What do you mean?” I replied: “It is a free country roughly in the same sense as you all imagine your country to be free.” He was a bit shaken, and said : “You mean I am imagining that my country is free. No, we really have freedom expression”. I held my ground and said: “I am not so sure, is it is only seemingly so”. Anyhow, to his credit, despite being rattled by a heathen alien, the said American passed me in English

The virile taittirIyaka gushed in the past about his momentous landing on the shores of madhyama mlechChadesha in krau~ncha dvIpa: “you truly feel like a free man in a free land the moment you are in the US”. However, my experience in the very same shores of krau~ncha dvIpa was hardly comparable. I feel I have about just the same freedom of expression as I had or have on the shores of jambu-dvIpa- some matters I can talk more freely here and others in bhArata. My freedom of expression is explicitly curbed by the officialdom in both countries. The American universities have a certain degree of freedom with respect to Internet but impose political correctness especially on issues of intelligence, race and sexuality. Civilian, unclassified American government funded research institutes were earlier similar in their freedoms, but post 9-11 have become increasingly heavy-handed in smothering freedom of expression and access to information. On the whole Chacha Sham has become paranoid and more and more willing to compromise freedom of expression/access to information after 9-11. India on the other hand despite its large internal Moslem and Isaist populations and numerous terrorist strikes exhibits far less paranoia in the directions that Americans do. But the Indian system prevents free expression with its own flavor of political correctness called secularism. India, just like certain US government institutions has a despicable track record with respect to internet freedom, perhaps worse.

However, a far more sinister issue I rapidly learned about in the US was the manufacture of opinion at which mlechCha-s are more notorious than anyone.

Simply defined “manufacture of opinion” is a process by which the certain opinions are manufactured via the medium of certain chosen academics and then presented as the correct, fashionable or proper opinion to be expressed by the masses. This might be carried out by the Anglosphere both on its own citizens, members of the extended Leukosphere and outsiders including other Abrahamists and heathens alike. There are numerous examples of manufacture of opinion:

1) The opinion was manufactured by some with vested agendas that the attack on Iraq was of paramount importance to the American future. So this became the majority opinion of the American people and they whole-heartedly supported their government’s decision to go to war on Iraq and kill Saddam and his henchmen.
2) The opinion was created that Musharaff rather than being at the heart of international terrorism and the cause of 9/11, was instead the front line ally of the US and the guardian of US from the raging beards. With this the opinion was created amongst Americans that Pakistan was an ally and Iraq, Iran and North Korea formed an “axis of evil” who need to be invaded though they had hardly anything to do with 9/11.
3) BJP is a Nazi-like party which would make make Indians believe that all physics stemmed from ancient Hindu texts, and exterminate Abrahamists in India. In contrast, the GOP is a legitimate political party – nobody quibbles too much about their evangelist fundamentalist support base which wants to convert all Hindus or insane policies in the Middle East (hey, how come no one is talking of Moslems dying there?) or the inclination to have intelligent design as an alternative to biology.
4) Jared Diamond’s book GGS is a must read and its universalist history is the correct picture of the making of the modern world for a young high school student.

These manufactured majority opinions soon make any questioner look like fool — in a city of nuts a sane man looks nutty. Along with these majority opinions certain norms or fashion are also encouraged in society such that everyone wants to conform to them — the same hair styles, the similar hair colors, similar opinions on what is “cool”.

We do not live in a perfect world, but it does amuse one to see how seriously educated adult people take their opinion on so many issues, without even suspecting that they have been manufactured for them.

 
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