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萬物簡史(MP3+中英字幕) 第657期:永不安分的類人猿(8)

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Quite who they were and what they were like remain matters of disagreement and uncertainty. Right up until the middle of the twentieth century the accepted anthropological view of the Neandertal was that he was dim, stooped, shuffling, and simian—the quintessential caveman. It was only a painful accident that prodded scientists to reconsider this view. In 1947, while doing fieldwork in the Sahara, a Franco-Algerian paleontologist named Camille Arambourg took refuge from the midday sun under the wing of his light airplane. As he sat there, a tire burst from the heat, and the plane tipped suddenly, striking him a painful blow on the upper body. Later in Paris he went for an X-ray of his neck, and noticed that his own vertebrae were aligned exactly like those of the stooped and hulking Neandertal. Either he was physiologically primitive or Neandertal's posture had been misdescribed. In fact, it was the latter. Neandertal vertebrae were not simian at all. It changed utterly how we viewed Neandertals—but only some of the time, it appears.

他們究竟是誰,長得像什么樣,至今依然莫衷一是,謎團一片。直到20世紀中葉,人類學界普遍流行的觀點是,尼安德特人舉止笨拙,身體彎曲,拖拽著腳行走,與猿人沒有多大區別——他們是穴居人中的佼佼者。只是一件令入痛苦的偶然事件,才使得科學家對這一觀點遺行了重新審視。 1947年,一位名為卡爾·阿拉姆卡爾的法裔阿爾及利亞古生物學家在撒哈拉地區野外考察時,中午烈日炎炎,他躲在他的輕型飛機的機翼下休息。他坐在那里的時候,一只輪胎由于天氣太熱而爆裂,飛機突然傾斜,他的上身被重重地擊了—下。后來他取巴黎對他頸部做了一次X光檢查,結果發現脊椎的排列與身體微屈,舉止笨拙的尼安德特人完全一樣。要么從生理學角度講他類同于原始人,要么就是我們對尼安德特人樣子的認識存在著偏差。答案自然是后者。尼安德特人的脊椎完全不同于類人猿。這完全改變了我們對尼安德特人的看法——但是這種認識似乎只是曇花一現。

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It is still commonly held that Neandertals lacked the intelligence or fiber to compete on equal terms with the continent's slender and more cerebrally nimble newcomers, Homo sapiens. Here is a typical comment from a recent book: "Modern humans neutralized this advantage [the Neandertal's considerably heartier physique] with better clothing, better fires and better shelter; meanwhile the Neandertals were stuck with an oversize body that required more food to sustain." In other words, the very factors that had allowed them to survive successfully for a hundred thousand years suddenly became an insuperable handicap.

時至今日,仍有不少人認為尼安德特人缺少智能,與更靈巧、腦量更大的后來者智人不可同日而語。下面就是最近出版的一本書中一個典型的論點:“現代人以更舒適的穿著,更先進的取火方式,更好的住所,戰勝了這種優勢(尼安德特人的強壯體格),而尼安德特人處境尷尬,龐大的身軀需要更多的食物維持生存?!被瘓浠八?,使得他們成功生存了10萬多年的優勢突然之間成了難以克服的不利條件。

重點單詞   查看全部解釋    
typical ['tipikəl]

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adj. 典型的,有代表性的,特有的,獨特的

 
refuge ['refju:dʒ]

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n. 避難(處), 庇護(所)
v. 庇護,避

 
striking ['straikiŋ]

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adj. 吸引人的,顯著的
n. 打擊

 
intelligence [in'telidʒəns]

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n. 理解力,智力
n. 情報,情報工作,情報

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primitive ['primitiv]

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adj. 原始的
n. 原始人,文藝復興前的藝

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paleontologist [,pæliɔn'tɔlədʒist]

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n. 古生物學者 =palaeontologist

 
compete [kəm'pi:t]

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vi. 競爭,對抗,比賽

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disagreement [.disə'gri:mənt]

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n. 不合,爭論,不一致

 
sustain [səs'tein]

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vt. 承受,支持,經受,維持,認可

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uncertainty [ʌn'sə:tnti]

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n. 不確定,不可靠,半信半疑 (學術)不可信度; 偏差

 
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