A misguided anthropologist

From: joedees@bellsouth.net
Date: Sun May 13 2001 - 21:21:43 BST

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    Date: Sun, 13 May 2001 15:21:43 -0500
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    Subject: A misguided anthropologist
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    > From:
    > Paleoanthropology Division
    > Smithsonian Institute
    > 207 Pennsylvania Avenue
    > Washington, DC 20078
    > Dear Sir:
    > Thank you for your latest submission to the
    > Institute, labeled "211-D, layer seven, next
    > to the clothesline post. Hominid skull." We
    > have given this specimen a careful and detailed
    > examination, and regret to inform you that we
    > disagree with your theory that it represents
    > "conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man
    > in Charleston County two million years ago."
    > Rather, it appears that what you have found is
    > the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one
    > of our staff, who has small children, believes
    > to be the "Malibu Barbie". It is evident that
    > you have given a great deal of thought to the
    > analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite
    > certain that those of us who are familiar with
    > your prior work in the field were loathe to come
    > to contradiction with your findings. However,
    > we do feel that there are a number of physical
    > attributes of the specimen which might have
    > tipped you off to its modern origin:
    > 1.The material is molded plastic. Ancient
    > hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.
    > 2.The cranial capacity of the specimen is
    > approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below
    > the threshold of even the earliest identified
    > proto-hominids.
    > 3.The dentition pattern evident on the "skull"
    > is more consistent with the common domesticated
    > dog than it is with the "ravenous man-eating
    > Pliocene clams" you speculate roamed the
    > wetlands during that time. This latter finding
    > is certainly one of the most intriguing
    > hypotheses you have submitted in your history
    > with this institution, but the evidence seems
    > to weigh rather heavily against it. Without
    > going into too much detail, let us say that:
    > A.The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie
    > doll that a dog has chewed on.
    > B.Clams don't have teeth.
    > It is with feelings tinged with melancholy
    > that we must deny your request to have the
    > specimen carbon dated. This is partially due
    > to the heavy load our lab must bear in its
    > normal operation, and partly due to carbon
    > dating's notorious inaccuracy in fossils of
    > recent geologic record. To the best of our
    > knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior
    > to 1956 AD, and carbon dating is likely to
    > produce wildly inaccurate results.
    > Sadly, we must also deny your request that we
    > approach the National Science Foundation's
    > Phylogeny Department with the concept of
    > assigning your specimen the scientific name
    > "Australopithecus spiff-arino." Speaking
    > personally, I, for one, fought tenaciously
    > for the acceptance of your proposed taxonomy,
    > but was ultimately voted down because the
    > species name you selected was hyphenated, and
    > didn't really sound like it might be Latin.
    > However, we gladly accept your generous donation
    > of this fascinating specimen to the museum.
    > While it is undoubtedly not a Hominid fossil,
    > it is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example
    > of the great body of work you seem to accumulate
    > here so effortlessly. You should know that our
    > Director has reserved a special shelf in his own
    > office for the display of the specimens you have
    > previously submitted to the Institution, and the
    > entire staff speculates daily on what you will
    > happen upon next in your digs at the site you
    > have discovered in your back yard.
    > We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation's
    > capital that you proposed in your last letter,
    > and several of us are pressing the Director to
    > pay for it. We are particularly interested in
    > hearing you expand on your theories surrounding
    > the "trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous
    > ions in a structural matrix" that makes the
    > excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur you
    > recently discovered take on the deceptive
    > appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman
    > automotive crescent wrench.
    > Yours in Science,
    > Harvey Rowe
    > Curator, Antiquities

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