an imaginative look a palaeolithic life

About

Who am I?

I love science and my favourite science, as you can probably guess from this blog, is palaeoanthropology.  I studied some modules in this at university more than a decade ago, but things have moved on a lot since then so I’m trying to catch up.  And what a lot I have to catch up on…!  Like hobbits and denisovans and all sorts.  I find it all extremely interesting (and sometimes amusing) and I have probably a little more imagination than is technically healthy, and so this blog is a place for me to write about interesting things I find out and weird ideas that I have, related to palaeoanthropology.

I’m also a mother of two lovely daughters and I live in Dorset, England.  My other hobbies include creative writing and weightlifting. 

Is this an educational blog?

It’s a humorous and imaginative look at Palaeolithic life, not to be taken too seriously.   I have a big imagination and a lot of ideas and this blog is the place for them. I try my best to be scientifically accurate, but I can’t guarantee that the information is correct and not out of date.

I’m also planning on putting fiction on this blog, because I like writing it.  Yes, the fiction is vaguely themed around other species of humans etc.  I write other fiction as well, and non-fiction, just that only the palaeoanthropology related fiction will be on this blog.  As to when I do that, well that’s easy.  When I’ve finished writing it…

So while there may be some educational aspects to this blog, I wouldn’t really say it’s here for educational purposes.  More like edutainment with a little weirdness thrown in.

Do you do palaeo dieting?

I am very into health and fitness, and I apply my knowledge of palaeoanthropology to this.  I agree with the principle of taking into account what we are adapted for when it comes to diet,exercise and lifestyle.  However as I’m descended from many generations of European dairy farmers and so can still digest lactose as an adult, I have no intention of giving up dairy, and I also don’t see the point of giving up grains and legumes seeing as I can digest them just fine and palaeolithic people would likely have eaten wild varieties of them.  Additionally, I’m not a food puritan and I don’t see the point of giving up foods that you’re not allergic to and can digest just fine.

Why do you spell paleo with an a in it?

Because I’m BRITISH!!!!

Why do Americans neglect the letter a and o in so many words like palaeolithic and foetus?  Poor letters 😦 they feel so neglected when you just nonchalantly drop them from words like that.

What species of human are you?

I have a vertical forehead, dome shaped cranium, a chin and no brow ridges, and so I’m sure I’m mostly Homo sapiens sapiens, even though I’m only 5’1” and stocky build with a rather large rib cage, short limbs, and stronger than lots of women who are taller than me.  And I’m a ginger carrier (someone who carries the ginger gene but is not actually ginger (Tate, 2005) <– 1:25-2:00) so I sometimes wonder if I got more than my fair share of Neanderthal genes. Maybe there’s a geneticist somewhere who can either confirm or refute that.  Regardless, I do think it’s quite nice after a lifetime of being called “shorty” and the like, that I can inform people that I’m average height.  Because I AM average height for a Neanderthal woman.

Are you good at making stone tools?

No.   I have tried though, and it’s a lot more difficult than it looks.  Even just finding the right kind of rock, and big enough pieces of the right kind of rock, which don’t contain flaws that will sabotage your tool, is a challenge in itself before you even start trying to chip bits off it (oh yeah and you have to find a suitable hammerstone too, and for more advanced techniques, make yourself a pressure flaker, which in middle and upper palaeolithic times would have been made from antler).  You can find my attempts at flintknapping here.

This endeavour has greatly increased my respect for palaeolithic people.  They were a lot more clever than most people give them credit for.

What about mammoth hunting?

Don’t be stupid, they’re extinct.

Okay, any kind of hunting of then?

No, apart from once I went crab fishing of a jetty in a little seaside town on the south coast of England.  It wasn’t very successful though, and I fell in (yes I was that kind of a child).  Then I had a 5 mile hike home in wet clothes, because my family are into hill walking.  I am much better at hill walking than I am at fishing.

Can you start a fire with a piece of flint?

Yes if it’s a flint in a cigarette lighter.  Well I probably could start a fire with an actual Palaeolithic style flint firelighter, if I knew what to look for in rock to ensure you have the kinds that make sparks when you hit them together (you need a piece of flint and a piece of iron pyrite).  I was in the girl guides and we learned a lot about starting, building and maintaining fires and cooking on them and stuff, but we were allowed to use matches, so if Mr or Mrs Homo erectus would like to teach me how to select the right kind of rock, I can possibly do the rest.  So long as it’s not been raining lately.  Damp wood really makes things difficult when it comes to fires.

What do you like best about palaeoanthropology?

It’s just really interesting learning about other species of human and how people lived and survived with stone age technology.  I find the middle palaeolithic era the most interesting, but all stages of human evolution and all species of human and the entire stone age are interesting in their own ways.  I also really like to see the various reconstructions of other humans using forensic techniques, because these really bring them to life.

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