20 January 2010

You know you're an anthropology nerd when...

You want to correct the theme song for The Big Bang Theory.  (Let's forget for a moment the implications of this particular show being one of my favorites, and just focus on the theme song.) Does everyone know it? It goes thusly:

Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,
Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait...
The Earth began to cool,
The autotrophs began to drool,
Neanderthals developed tools,
We built a wall (we built the pyramids),
Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries,
That all started with the big bang!

Now, I know this really shouldn't bother me... because I should have known from the moment that they said: "the autotrophs began to drool," that this wasn't necessarily written to be very accurate. However, I can't help but cringe every time the Barenaked Ladies sing "Neanderthals developed tools." First of all, they mispronounce Neanderthals, which is something most people do, so I forgive them. What I can't forgive, though, is the misrepresentation of the species as the first to discover tools. NO! This is simply not true. Anyone who would happen to look into the... bull dung... coming out of their mouth would know that Homo habilis is attributed with the first use of tools - 2.5 MILLION YEARS AGO!!! I mean, the species name means "handy man" for goodness sakes!! This gross lyrical mistake cuts off millions of years of tool usage by our evolutionary ancestors... and the more I write, the more peeved I get. If you're going to have a TV show about modern day physicists in a non-fictional location... you should take the 5 seconds to research Homo neanderthalensis on wikipedia and realize that they were using previously discovered technology. Jeeze!!

I think I've made my point. 



Kel Marie said...

Another mistake is the assumption that neanderthals predated modern humans when, in fact, homo neandertalensis and homo sapien sapiens coexisted. The species homo neandertalensis became extinct for unknown reasons (but we could also debate that point).
<3 a fellow anthro nerd.

Bradley.Baillargeon said...

They don't say that they discovered tools, only that they developed them.

I don't know much about it, but I assume tools developed a good amount in the time of neanderthals, so I'd argue that the song isn't necessarily wrong.

Bradley.Baillargeon said...

Also, thusly isn't a word.