Time Defines Identities
Moving up a level, time determines who our ancestors are. According to Richard Leakey, time tells us much about our history and consequently our future. Are we descendants of Australopithecus africanus or afarensis? Is there a missing link? What happened to the Neanderthals?
The answers to these questions rely critically on the accuracy with which the date of an artifact or fossil can be determined. The
difference of several thousand years can mean the refutation of one theory or the discovery of a new family. In the relatively recent history concerning civilizations, however, Diamond considers time a less important factor than
geography. In his book Guns, Germs, and Steel, he sites various situations in which it accounts for little in the eventual distribution of power. The Fertile Crescent and China, for example, lost their enormous leads of thousands of years to late-starting Europe due to proximate factors.
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