In February, 2013, a data-crunching effort examined thousands of mammal measurements (including ours) to conclude that everything from elephants to Lindsay Lohan sprang from a common Hypothetical Placental Mammal Ancestor. The numbers suggest this happened sometime after the demise of the non-flying dinosaurs, when the coast was clear at last for our stompable forebears to gain a foothold rather than being flattened in a footprint.
There seems to be a lot ofexcitement and chatter about this latest bit of evolutionary news, as if it is some kind of a surprise. I, for one, have always known that at least one of my relatives was a furry, bug eating, shrew – not quite a rat but definitely more kick-ass than a mouse.
Several fit that description, actually. No need to name names.
But of course all this is still controversial, and will remain so for thousands, maybe millions of years. Or until the next major asteroid provides a clean slate for another robust species to start its journey from dining on available insects to computer-assisted speculation about the family tree.
But just in case this turns out to be true, we should take advantage of our position in time to be the first to write a greeting to our freshly imagined progenitor – the Hypothetical Placental Mammal Ancestor.
Here are three, in haiku form:
Oh shrew-like fur ball
Good thing you ditched the long tail
Before there were doors.
Is a bad first name for one
Mother of us all,
Eating a bug for the team.
It tastes like chicken!