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brachiosteve last won the day on October 17 2019

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  1. The phylogeny challenge… is simple and like the, ‘pin the tail on the donkey’, game but without the blindfold. Given access to the phylogenetic tree of life, stick a mark wherever you think there is a, ‘kind’ barrier, where it is unrelated to anything else in another, ‘kind’ (or baramin) group. If all life is related by common descent, back to a single or several original lifeforms, then there should be evidence for this. If life was created in separate groups (kinds) that are unrelated, then there should be evidence for this. Evidence for one or the other should be powerful and exclusive to one. This is one of Aron Ra’s original hopes for this project. An irrefutable jigsaw showing either fluidity or distinct separation. Like predicting whether it is a portrait or a landscape. When you have completed so much, it becomes increasingly clear which one it is. This is not an attack on religion or God. We remain neutral or impartial on this. We are unconcerned whether there is a God that guides evolution or not, but we are concerned with the methods and means and evidence for this mechanism, and bad or false science. Aron Ra wrote a critical book on Creationism. It highlights some of the stereotypes and foundational falsehoods used, which in turn was based on a set of Youtube videos, called, ‘Foundational falsehoods of Creationism’ as was the book. In fact on Amazon, it is listed alongside two books – ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins and, ‘A universe from nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss. Nice. Here’s the link, and I thoroughly recommend it: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Foundational-Falsehoods-Creationism-Aron-Ra/dp/1634310780 (When I say, ‘stereotypes’, the examples used in the book are very real and they cover 99% of the arguments used. I speak with some experience from the side of Christianity and theology and creationism. I am a teacher and have a degree in theology and philosophy. I went to Bible college (and was an assistant pastor) and I also did an honours thesis on Creation/evolution and was a Creationist and speaker for over twenty years, not to mention being the creator of the Ark encounter.) In the classic British TV comedy show, ‘Yes Prime Minister’, the health secretary is represented by a fat old, drunk, chain smoking guy. In, ‘Father Ted’, Father Dougal doesn’t believe in God or the afterlife. Dr. Kent Hovind has no legitimate doctorates and the American, Russian and British head’s of state that should be such role models to their country and the world, seem to have pretty significant shortcomings when it comes to equality/respect for others in some areas. You wouldn’t tend to hire a History teacher who denied or hadn’t heard of the Holocaust. A geography teacher who didn’t know what a continent or where Africa was or a Nanny who hated kids. In this video, we have a man of science - a medical doctor (a dentist by trade) who was a member of the state board of education for Texas which oversaw state school quality, arguing against evolution and yet doesn’t know what evolution is, and demonstrates blatant bias and ignorance and has stated so in writing as well as here. He is a nice, respectful and patient guy though, I’ll give him that. I remember buying a car once. I had decided which one, but (to make a significant other happy), I said I would look at the competition. I said I’d keep an open mind, and I made all the right expressions, implied I was listening and made notes. In truth, it was a show, and I knew I would end up with the car I originally wanted. I diminished or ignored any highlights for better options, and played up the (often, very few) good points in favour of my preferred car. I mention this to consider before or during watching this video and to ask oneself if you have ever done something similar or been closed minded. He is very good at asking, ‘so how do you explain…. It seems so unbelievable’, (a logical fallacy appeal) but doesn’t like answers that are facts, evidence based, reasoned, logical, demonstrable, true or proven. He doesn’t attempt or offer a single piece of evidence to support any of his own contentions, thus defining a god of the gaps scenario (even when the gap is filled with something rational). This is quite a humiliating and embarrassing video for one person here, but he seems to be pretty immune to such things. He keeps asking questions, getting answers and then, despite the correct answer to the questions, ignoring and never challenging the evidence based response, and merely appealing to how it seems so designed/beautiful. If you see a pianist playing something amazing or an amazing painting or new concept car, you can still be amazed (maybe even more), by learning how it came about. Hard daily training/practise for years or a great imagination, built on prior engineering. You can still be amazed, BUT you can’t NOW deny how it occurred, because it has been shown. But this guy can and does, constantly. He is clearly just saying, I hear the answer you gave, I don’t challenge it (and he is being offered the chance to be convinced), but then says, but I don’t accept it. This not an open minded person or a person who accepts the logic or superiority of scientific evidence when provided. The agenda and limit to which he will not listen beyond, is made very clear. It is a model stereotypical ostrich response. Prior boundaries could have been set, e.g. as to what constitutes acceptably reasonable evidence. I imagine that he would accept the theories or laws regarding electricity and many other things we take for granted, BUT only because they don’t conflict with any pre-conceptual belief or book. Identically powerful evidence that does conflict, but that is not accepted, is clear evidence that such a person is not being reasonable or consistent. If you are not willing to change your position if convinced or shown otherwise, you will not be successful in changing the person’s mind. You can lead a horse to water… Aron overcame even this, by challenging him that he could prove to/convince him, to his own satisfaction, that evolution is true. The reply. ‘Someday’. Aron – ‘’soon’. He is clearly not interested, and the answers to the questions he was asking are readily available, had he tried looking. This was one guy, offering to answer all of his opponents questions on a free, wide ranging agenda within and well beyond evolution, with science/evidence and not speculation, guesswork, ambiguity or generalisations. To be able or willing to be challenged or questioned, live, (without notes) on creation/evolution is a very brave thing to do. Your subject knowledge needs to be very good and very wide ranging. Something that most scientists do not have. An expert on the breeding habits of rabbits would expect to present a very strong case, defence or explanation on this narrow topic. He may know little on other aspects of rabbit origins, or other mammals or little to nothing on phylogeny or invertebrates or plants or the Creationist or ID arguments or what they might say or how they may respond. It is hard to overestimate how much knowledge is required to tackle such a wide open topic, let alone come out successfully or deal with the innumerable excuses, responses, old arguments, gallups or get-outs. Aron Ra is able to do what he does (explain evolution or debate the issue of evolution/creation) better than any other person I have ever seen, and he does this because of a range of factors, and I’d love to hear of anyone that anyone feels does a similarly good job on this topic of Creation/evolution. He reads, digests and remembers a lot. He has stood up to anti-science a lot. He engages with people a lot. He keeps up to date. He loves the topic and cause. He has a huge, natural, engaging Texan voice and personality. He is able to quickly digest and filter questions and understands any underhanded meanings or shortcomings and addresses them head-on. He does not let opponents get away with anything. He has a great way with words and explaining things, and can pull everything together so well and succinctly, where most others would miss the key flaws or point or go on too long or make it boring. He is able to get any additional or useful points across, anticipating the questions that arise from it. He has rarely, if ever been stuck or got caught out by questions, even though it is perfectly reasonable to state that you are not well versed on that particular topic or some new information you would prefer to examine first or refer to someone who has knowledge or read it. What he does, would otherwise take a large group of experts or specialists, or someone who has spent a very long, active time learning, understanding and interacting, communicating and writing widely. And that’s not accounting for the natural skill sets mentioned above. Dr McLeroy was good at asking for specifics, but was not so keen on going off with Aron to have them shown to him. This is showing your limits, true colours, motive, allegiance, bias and state of immovability to a view. When a view is of higher authority than the evidence or your capacity to be convinced or willingness to change, it is time to reconsider your views. And the question you may be asking yourself: If you cut Aron’s hair, will he lose this knowledge or ability to do what he does? You can support the work of Aron Ra in all he does (except the Phylogeny Explorer Project) here: PATREON► https://www.patreon.com/aronra PAYPAL► https://www.paypal.me/AronRa If you are wanting to support the Phylogeny Explorer Project, please do so here: https://phylogenyexplorerproject.org/ (scroll down a bit, it’s on the right.) or here: https://phylogenyexplorerproject.org/clients/donations/
  2. brachiosteve


    Hi Kevin. You are not restricted to just one question. All data we use is sourced and/or researched manually from a range of resources by volunteer teams of project scientists and enthusiasts alike, with editorial/Quality controls. Having said that, we shall be utilising more sites as well as larger public access ones and technology to import them to our tree. We are always looking for volunteers in a range of positions, including scientists and phylogenetic data analysts to help sort and resolve clade relationships, which is just one of many factors that will make us unique. We are happy to link and promote other good resources and/or collaborate in various ways. We intend to produce an accurate, quality programme which will be peer reviewed where possible (or noted where not and why). The programme is largely off line whilst we complete a new database, which we will then transfer and import data and a new set of information, so with user testing, it may be offline to the public for a while longer. Are you such a potential volunteer, Kevin and/or are you coming from a different perspective?
  3. brachiosteve


    Hi Kevin. I’m not sure I see this as a rude question, but questions are all about motives, and I would ask it in a different way if I were just curious about who is involved. As it stands, there are so many different ways to answer this (which I am happy to elaborate on), so to save some time, I will let you explain your question a bit more, and then I will hopefully be able to answer it.
  4. We are happy to add anything we have missed, and we have some plants. Completely forgot about that group. What is it again, animalia? We'll investigate and if we find any, we'll add them. Just joking, Mr E. Great question, seriously! If you are not a member of our Facebook group, The Phylogeny Explorer Development, then may I encourage you to do so. There's a catalogue of interesting stuff over the years you can see. This very question was asked on 6th January this year, entitled, 'What is an animal?' In a nutshell, it comes down to a few factors. The difference between traditional hierarchical systematic taxonomy vs clades and phylogenetic definitions. It also concerns what name is used. Sometimes a name is replaced for a range of reasons, e.g. one term doesn’t really cover a specific group or due to new discoveries, names are no longer relevant. The term Animalia and Metazoa are often used synonymously or interchangeably, but technically one group is slightly larger, encompassing some additional species. A good example that is more well known, is chordates and vertebrates. You can simultaneously be both an ape, monkey, primate and mammal for example. We are also fish, but not phylogenetically, as no such group exists, it’s a catch-all convenient name. A bit like the American group, ‘fish and wildlife service’ (very ambiguous) or the term, ‘invertebrate'. It is apples and oranges, confusing terms. We use the term, Metazoa on the project and focus more on monophyletic clades, but we will be sure to explain (e.g. within the Metazoan node or close to it) several other terms that are of similar rank and groupings. Whilst the project has widened and developed over time, the primary purpose of the project, (as the founder, Aron Ra set out and this has not changed), is to lay out a comprehensive, visual evolutionary tree as determined by relationship and time between taxa, thus showing how life, in as far as we can show/know, has come to be. This involves a lot of complex and varied science and mathematics and research band investigation. As more information comes to light, we will amend, where needed, (and some of these early relationships in pre-history are open to interpretation, but the jigsaw puzzle is clear enough to determine that it is a picture of a scenic landscape rather than a portrait, for example. The facts of evolutionary descent with modification through natural selection is not in dispute, in fact this is the main purpose of the project, to demonstrate this for the first time on a single page, which has no escape route. Previously, it has only been possible to demonstrate this in snapshots through metaphorical microscopes or telescopes.
  5. I was in the military, on guard duty in the jungles of Central America one night. I remember observing, under the yellow tinge of a sodium light, a female praying mantis and its young (or smaller partner?). I spent a while watching them and how such a complex set of decisions (about eating, moving, interacting, protecting, sleeping, mating, defence etc.) were held in such a tiny brain. They would only live for a year, at most, (from being born – no idea how old these were) and I wondered if they were happy or would have a life worth living and how much longer it would have to live. My questions were abruptly answered. My colleague crept up, sprayed them with insect repellent, and laughed. The struggles that these creatures had gone through in their shortened life and the nonsense-icle, purposeless ending, with no justice, karma or follow up to look forward to or face, for them or him. There are numerous other examples that are equally relatable. A youth, rampaging through a flowerbed and pulling them up, feeling proud that s/he has impressed her/his mates, with total disregard for the effort required to create it and no consideration to the defencelessness of his target or the weak, pathetic lack of discipline for her/his actions or thoughtlessness for the consequences or re-creation task. The one I think of, is Galileo Galilei and the Catholic church. The father of modern science needs wide shoulders, to bear all of us who can but stand on them in admiration. And he worked 400 years ago. His solitary achievements, inventions, discoveries and work made him the hero he is, and yet a brute picked him up, incapacitated him and stuck him in prison/confinement for his Copernican supporting enlightenments, prevented him from speaking out, and he died there. One wonders what the church achieved during this incarceration compared to what Galileo would have, alone, if he were free, or what it achieved in his lifetime, worldwide compared to what that one man achieved. The discoveries that followed, because of him, have led to other scientists saving millions of lives and so much more. The Jesuits were supposed to lead the world in scientific enquiry and astronomy, and they did this to this great astronomer. I think something happened about 2000 years ago like this, according to legend. The Catholic church has made attempts to apologise and erect a statue, which was put on hold. In the museum of Galileo in Italy, there is a relic on display for all to see, from the Pope (for which it is but a short distance) up. A reminder of the past. Galileo’s middle finger! Isn’t that ironic. I want to encourage all those who read this, make the most of your life, and be inspired by the many founding fathers of science who mostly achieved so much in such a short time, alone under difficult conditions in ancient times. Don’t waste a year, month, week, day, not even an hour. It is so precious. If need be, get an organiser, manage your time, reward your efforts and move quickly on from failures or disappointments. Prioritise, focus on what’s important and frequently think about what would happen if you left sooner that you expected and what your legacy might be. Will others be provided for or have to sort through a lot of stuff? Don’t have regrets – sort them, put them to rest or make a mass apology and move on. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
  6. Motivated by our valued member, Charles Cameron from a recent post on a huge, man sized leaf discovery. Palm leaves can grow to 20m though! To my knowledge, there is no site or authority, one can go or be directed to, that logs or registers new species. What usually happens, is that dedicated databases of taxa, like the Reptile database for example, keep a look out in the literature and in related news articles. There is no obligation for anyone to register anything anywhere. So, amateur naturalists and professional researchers alike, who come across something, which is or may be new, might not know or be focused or interested (or have no time to log) something new, and any reference may be incidental in their writing. That means, anyone looking to find new species to keep their records up to date, will sometimes have no way of knowing that a new species was discovered, because the research (and its title and key word search) will not indicate this. I, myself fell victim to this. I discovered a snake in the Americas. It was venomous, and possibly the most venomous on the continent. I took photos, checked with the local Audubon society and the local zoo, and assumed that specialists may be interested in it and recognise it. Unfortunately (but thanks to the rigours of scientific scrutiny), I did not know the etiquette of what was required to prove my finding to science. I left the continent without the ability to bring it back home. Years passed, and when I went to the Natural history museum in London, the difficulty was explained to me. Possible digital editing, how was it known that it was not found elsewhere, imported or a pet or where the photos were taken? If it was a holotype, maybe it was a mutant etc. In fact, there may well be many mistaken species, and sometimes they get spotted. If we went through museum collections with a fine tooth comb, we would also find many new species, and in fact that is what some people do. You could do it yourself if you show good reason and intent, as there are simply not enough people/time to do it. There are regulations for uncovering fossils and minerals, buried treasure and archaeological findings, with regard to declaring them or handing them over. In the UK, it is illegal to even go and, ‘observe’ smooth snakes, due to their scarcity. I propose, especially in our current, climatic situation, that there should be legislation or even just an agreed voluntary protocol, to have to submit any findings, be it after a casual walk in the park, a big dig or a field research project, that anything relating to potential new identifications be referred to a specific source. And I propose that source be the Phylogeny Explorer Project, or one of 2 or three options, but have a shared link to ensure it reaches all of the key, international databases, if/when a new species is officially identified. It seems crazy that there is no such process in place, but if you look at the laws and penalties for things like animal cruelty, chemical pollution and other biological or environmental crimes, one begins to see how, only one species really matters. https://news.mongabay.com/2019/11/amazon-tree-giant-leaves-coccoloba-gigantifolia-new-species-brazil/?fbclid=IwAR2P2sb_wjQDcGBmXdP3eJ-YBjsQe40IbU5YtlKiWL1Ux--sUrbv3hqsU_M
  7. This is in support of/response/addition to a Facebook post, where I asked if chickens can fly or not. It's not black and white as it depends on definitions, but it’s a great example of an inherited trait being lost or artificially designed, under our noses. At what point is a species classed as having or not having trait/attribute y? On our Explorer, the clade nodes are visually represented by whether they are extinct or not, by way of the extinct symbol. In the past, some volunteer enthusiasts had not fully understood some of the rules of annotating cladograms, and resulted in us having to go back and re-check this error, which is ongoing but in hand. This was a learning curve, and taught us to ensure that we produce proper documentation, training, QC, designated roles and appropriately qualified or experienced personnel to monitor this. The rule is, on extinction, (as a negative) that only if every example within that clade, fits, can the whole clade be annotated as such. So, dinosaurs (because birds form a part of this clade) must be left open as being extant, NOT just the bird part. And further, ALL clades higher, that encompass dinosaurs, must also be left open as extant, right back to the root. Only the subordinate clades which have no examples remaining, can be annotated at its root node. There are no other examples of dinosaurs left, so if all birds died out tomorrow, dinosaurs could be said to be, and annotated, extinct. The term, ‘Dinosaur’ is being used in the cladistics sense. But, if we were to apply the positive attribute of flight (true flight – unassisted by gravity, wind or other body or external source) to chickens, then if any, single example still flies, it (the clade root) does not get a tick unless all fly. The same logic/implication would mean that flight needs to be ticked in all higher clades back to the root, but clearly, flight had not evolved then. So, what happens, is at the onset of flight, flight can be ticked. Flight is not a cladistics term, it is/can be, a part of what makes up the collective defining attributes. So, whilst all descendants of birds, remain birds (and also whatever new clades/derivatives they evolve into), flight is something that can change. So, any bird which cannot fly, can be ticked as a non-flier, individually, but to compare extinct, flight and other things is not entirely fair comparables. I would be inclined to say that chickens can fly, only IF there is a verified, extant example and we may need to ask about whether wild and domestic ones are included or how far back we go. The internet seems to show that there are examples, under the limits I presented above, (but many dubious ones, too, with nothing that has yet convinced me, but feel free to post/link), but I’d like to see more concrete evidence. Perhaps surprisingly, I have never seen evidence that a hippo (the, ‘river’ horse!) can actually swim, despite some extensive searching and videos, from zoos and in the wild. But swimming may need defining. I would also point out that the record distance for a chicken flying, is under 100m. Flying fish can travel much further and for much longer, through the air by distance. How does 45 seconds, horizontally sound! Is this potentially flight? So just bear that in mind, and, like my own discovery and photographic evidence of a new species of highly venomous snake, photo’s may not tell the whole story or provide enough evidence, (see the blog on the Website entitled, ‘The sacrosanct nature of verification’ or note what, ‘Trigger’ would like you to think in this attached video, that he shows proof. And there is a philosophical reflection of, ‘the ship of Theseus’ problem which you may like to search for. It’s always good to learn something new, especially if you’ve done ten impossible things before breakfast.
  8. Does evolution include any/every biological change or advancement? For example, genes can be transferred directly (including horizontally) across evolutionary branches, bi-passing the standard, more well-known/popular method. We (human beings) are fundamentally composed of different organisms, many are species in themselves, and we probably contain less eukaryote than eukaryote. Does hybridisation count as evolution? Laboratory or artificial interference – does that count? If so, where is it on the tree? If not, why not? Sometimes, something comes about – an invention or discovery, that transforms or exponentially speeds up events, and sometimes it is beyond our predictions or control. New, exciting possibilities came about with the advent of the wheel, mechanical transport, mechanical flight, telecommunications, video, computers and genetics. All of these advancements occurred, ‘naturally’ (i.e. here is a lifeless planet within a relatively closed system, see what happens). Therefore, should we use the term, ‘artificial’, because everything is, what it is, ‘natural’? That we have evolved to be able to utilise physical, chemical and biological material to do advanced things, or even turn things inside out or radically change things, is still, fundamentally natural, isn’t it? Is a venomous creature, ‘cheating’, because it transforms past norms with a new technique? Opposable primate thumbs or tool using; the ability to speak, create weapons of mass destruction (or mass medical healing devices)? Human events and actions on the planet, from industry, expansion of habitation, destroying natural habitats, controlling vermin, increasing populations of pretty species (or pets), or selecting types of plants or preferring certain human traits or looks. All of this is natural evolution (unless one is suggesting it is un/supernatural or required outside/intelligent interference?). It is evolution, adapting, using what it has within the technology it knows. Why is a monkey that prefers one type of fruit, (and so forcing a potential change in species and in the environment) being any different than humans doing the same, using its ability, choices and technology? If the phylogenetic tree turns out not to be a tree, or a very deformed one or more like a bush or coral reef or other simile, then who are we to argue? It doesn’t conform to our needs, we adapt to what it is. If, in the distant future, it turns in on itself as we genetically engineer it, then we must adapt the tree accordingly, we can’t just say that it doesn’t count or it is artificial or false. If we were able to create an octopus/scorpion hybrid (or any other form by whatever means), then would this need to be shown on the tree, somehow? Whether a ‘natural’, exceptional (or so called, ‘artificial’) event causes change, they are all technically, ‘natural’ aren’t they? Exceptional events like the ice age, transporting between land masses, large, survivable genetic abnormalities and so forth, are all beyond the standard, but all have contributed to evolution, so shouldn’t it be reflected on the tree? Why is the human brain and what it is capable of producing, any more artificial or unacceptable, and not be a valid tree addition/benefit, any more than biological locomotion, the exoskeleton, photosynthesis, air breathing or endothermy? In the attached BBC video short on trnshumanism, the issue is highlighted, as we see (yet again), another issue that c will be controversial. Many controversies have been and gone. Some dropped and some adapted naturally, or under strong opposition. Examples include, women exposing ankles in swimming costumes, men with long hair/skirts, women with short hair/trousers, contraception, abortion, artificial insemination/test tube babies, credit/swipe/chip and pin cards, pet implant chips etc. Punk rockers seem to have been and gone. ORLAN is a French example of an extreme artist, who subjects herself to things for art’s sake, including undergoing surgery, live, without anaesthetic and undergoing facial body extensions. I remember when Boy George hit the pop scene in the 1980s, I spoke to people at the time, saying that he would be a pivotal figure in people’s sexuality becoming more acceptable, by the way he normalised it. Today, (likewise) members of the Royal family have been outspoken about mental health, which in turn has normalised it and ensured it not to be the stigma it once was. Hopefully, medical attention, priority and funding will reflect or equal this old elephant in the room. In many parts of the world, for many of these controversial issues, it will be a long, slow struggle. Like many things in life, there is a struggle/cost – physical, personal, emotional, psychological, cultural, religious or societal, in enabling change. If any of the things in this attached BBC video seem odd or radical or unpalatable, they are well explained by the people being interviewed. Our perspective is current, moulded by our surroundings and perhaps should be considered by the benefits or the future. Like a digger is to a spade, for digging holes, with the advent of Homo sapiens on the scene/tree, evolution will (and surely has) increase(d) exponentially, maybe putting the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of mammals in the shade, by comparison in a new, ‘age of man’. Please feel free to comment, here, on the Facebook group or in a Forum. I have no monopoly on knowledge, accuracy, opinion or the truth, and welcome anyone who disagrees or wants to correct or share a similar or different view. This is food for thought, nothing more. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-scotland-49908957/transhumanism-how-far-would-you-go-for-a-body-upgrade
  9. Some places are dangerous to live. Australia has 100 venomous snakes, plus dangerous spiders, cone snails, blue ringed octopus, jellyfish, sharks, crocodiles, sting rays, stonefish, scorpions and centipedes, many of which can be life threatening. It’s even got a venomous mammal that is dangerous (and the female lays eggs and the male has multiple penis heads). So you’d expect a pretty high human body count… right? Before proceeding, consider this. Just ONE snake species, in ONE other country, kills 10,000 people per YEAR. Well in the DECADE between 2000 and 2010, there were 254 people killed by animals in Australia. That’s like, 25 people per year (where most of the top 20 most venomous snakes live). But if we break that down, it is even more surprising: · 77 were from horses and ponies (mainly riding or on the roads). · 33 were from cows, cattle, bulls, bovine (16 in traffic accidents, the rest by piercing, crushing or other). · 27 were from dogs (mostly in attacks and mostly on children or the elderly). · 18 were by kangaroos, (mostly on roads, causing accidents). · 16 were by bees. · 16 were by sharks (Steve Irwin was one victim). · 14 were by snakes. (And the world’s most venomous snake hasn’t killed anyone!). · 9 were by crocodiles · 5 were by emus (all in vehicle accidents) · 39 (combined) for fish, sheep, goats, camels, cats and jellyfish. · There were none by octopus, platypus, spiders, scorpions or centipedes. Almost three-quarters of victims were male and most of the deaths occurred either on public roads, in the home and on farms. Call it luck, good medicines and accessibility, good education/awareness, money, personal/national wealth or whatever, but other well developed countries share these (Australian kind of) statistics. Like Europe and the USA. We are talking handfuls of deaths. Go to the poor, less developed parts of the world, in Africa, the Americas and Asia, and it is terrible, with SE Asia and Sub Saharan Africa being the worst. People dying there aren’t in handfuls, but hundreds of thousands per year. Each human being is precious and mourned, painfully, just as you would mourn. This is a preventable epidemic. In Britain, if one person dies by an animal, it is front page news. In India, dozens die daily, but in rural villages, far from prying eyes or national/international interest, where many people are significantly less valued than others. That’s a crisis, and an unfair distribution of wealth and help and focus. This is too far down our list of priorities, surely. But our planet’s future may trump this, but let’s do both, and more. As the Phylogeny Explorer Project develops over time, there will be so much we can do with it from so many angles. With species genomes, geographical distribution, species counts, mapping new and extinct species, knowing which ones are venomous or at risk etc. But, like the world needs to assess its priorities, so must the project and focus on the primary, academic tasks in hand. Tree building.
  10. Mosquitos are the biggest people killers in the animal kingdom, with more deaths than all other creatures combined. Primates are the second largest by the way. There was a documentary on the difficulty in getting drugs/vaccines/medicines to far away, hard to reach, inhospitable poor places where people were dying, and governments had no money. In one scene, in Africa, the problem of money, logistics, distribution and transportation had seemed to have been overcome… Was that a coke being consumed, deep in a jungle? It seems that in their desperation to share their wonderful products, at a profit of course, no expense was spared in reaching the inner-most sanctums of human habitation. Message to Coca-cola. “If you ever find a spare few bucks and would like some real humanitarian publicity (and incidentally save a lot of lives), have a word/team up with a few governments/pharmaceuticals, and save a little space for some medicines on board those ships, planes and trucks that so welcomely manage to reach so many nooks and crannies around the poor places on earth. Of course, you could ignore this and wait for a huge, public petition to shame you into doing something, or explain why it really isn’t possible.” If coca cola can do it, and as they clearly do, then medicines can reach them the same way. Is it perhaps a problem of priorities? Coke vs medicine. Profit versus humanitarianism. Taste vs life. Anyone fancy sending a letter or starting a campaign?
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