In May, with much media fanfare, a 95% complete fossil of a 47-million-year-old human ancestor, a lemur, was revealed to the world after two years of secret study by an international team of scientists. The scientists say that the fossil’s significant state of preservation gives an unprecedented glimpse into early human evolution.
Scientists are divided on the interpretation of this discovery. One approach to this is that this is no missing link, rather it is a twig on the uncertain number of missing branches in our tree of evolution.
Leaping lemurs! This discovery gave me cause to think deeper about our instinct to belong, to know our roots.
Heck, I’d be happy to just know one generation back, maybe even two. Not that I don’t identify with human race, but don’t we all like to know where we come from?
For most of my life, I lived with unknown genetics. That’s the case with many adopted people, or anyone else with a missing never-met parent, like a divorced parent they never knew. I eventually found the link to my birth mother’s side, but my birth father…who knows. Maybe I’m in the sponge category? I’ve soaked up pools and puddles of every color…and I like it.
I’ve come to believe that even when we know our genetics, it’s up to each of us to build our sense of identity and belonging. No one else can do it for us, even if we are branded with an identity at birth, like race or gender. We still have to define how and where we belong in our worlds, what fits and what doesn’t fit.
Bella Abzug (1920-1988), the former U.S. Congresswoman and civil rights activist from the Bronx, made an insightful comment on why she wore hats, for which she was known. “I began wearing hats as a young lawyer because it helped me to establish my professional identity. Before that, whenever I was at a meeting, someone would ask me to get coffee.”
Thought for the day: Best said by Arthur Ashe, professional tennis player (1943-1993):: My potential is more than can be expressed within the bounds of my race or ethnic identity.
I’ll add to that — gender and any other category of identity, personal or professional.