A Sensory Quest: BBC Wonders of Life

Back in the very beginnings of my scientific education, I was taught the ‘MRS GREN’ code of life (movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion and nutrition). Although quite rudimentary, this was a perfectly satisfactory way of distinguishing between things that were living, and things that were not.

The S in MRS GREN, sensitivity, stands for the ability of all living things to detect changes in their environment. To do this we use our senses, a characteristic dating back to virtually the beginning of life. Even simple, single celled organisms can sense their environment and respond to it.

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42,000 years ago, YOUR ancestors were fishing!

As I have mentioned before, one of my real passions is Human Evolution. I often think about what I would do differently in terms of degree choice if I had the option. I think some of my peers might have picked a degree that had a little more job security at the end! I would probably do biological anthropology, Archaeology or something along those lines. Don’t get me wrong, I love my degree and I love the sheer possibility that I might work in Journalism in the future, but there is something incredibly attractive about learning about how our ancestors lived, interacted, developed etc. Imagine being the first person to see a skeleton, piece of jewellery or remains of a settlement for tens, even hundreds of thousands of years. Such a discovery has recently been made, which for such a small artefact can tell us an incredible amount about how our ancestors lived. That artefact is a simple fishhook – 42,000 years old.

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