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Real-Time Reading – 2 October – Chapter 13

neven-krcmarek-152344.jpgNeven Krcmarek

Like Deb, science isn’t my specialty. Accordingly, today’s post–and most of the Book of Life–will glide (gracefully and with great dignity) past things I can’t possibly explain. The second we start talking about evolution in anything more than basic terms, I bat my eyes charmingly and change the subject.

Luckily, as Deb notes in today’s Real-Time Reading entry, she had scientific consultants when writing ADOW. I don’t have a consultant for this blog, so I’m off the charts. I will sum up what little I understand properly and then send you scampering towards more educated corners of the globe. I’d be fascinated to hear from biologists, chemists, and other fans of the AST re: the science of the series and how it holds up.

“These tell us about the mitochondrial DNA of a woman named Benvenguda, which she inherited from her mother, and her mother’s mother, and every female ancestor before her. They tell us the story of her matrilineage.”

Scientists published a paper on “Mitochondrial Eve” in Nature in January of 1987 that challenged our understanding of human evolution. The evidence discovered by Rebecca Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan Wilson suggested that all humans carry mitochondrial DNA from the same woman–who lived 200,000 years ago. The discovery essentially killed the multiregional human evolution hypothesis and boosted another model of a single human evolution in Africa between 150,000-200,000 years ago. While you might assume based on her name that Mitochondrial Eve was “the first woman,” that doesn’t appear to be the case–she’s merely the most recent female ancestor whose mtDNA lineage is present in all currently-living humans.

If you’re curious about human origins (and who isn’t), I recommend the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s What does it mean to be human? site and associated media as well as Science Daily’s frequently-updated page on Human Evolution.

“Date of birth?” Miriam asked crisply, pen poised above the test tube.

“August thirteenth, 1976.”

Miriam stared. “August thirteenth?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Just being sure,” she murmured.

On or about 13 August, the ancient Romans celebrated Nemoralia, the Festival of Torches, in honor of the Goddess Diana.

330px-diana_by_augustus_saint-gaudens_01
Diana (1892–93), Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Bronze, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

This is the only reason I can find that Miriam would stagger over Diana’s birthday. The feast day commemorates the foundation of Diana’s temple on Aventine Hill by Servius Tullius. According to Wikipedia, celebrants of Nemoralia would form a procession of torches over Lake Nemi in Aricia. Later, Christians adopted the holiday as the Feast of the Assumption.

Diana is a triple goddess–Luna in heaven, Diana on earth, and Proserpina in hell. We’ll talk more about Diana’s various incarnations and powers as the series progresses, but you should keep all of that in mind as we move forward.

Until tomorrow, darlings, and our dinner Chez Matthew. You can find the Daemons Discuss episode on Chapter 13 at Take 16!. The All Souls Podcast discusses Chapter 13 in Episode 14: Swab the witch!

See you at Matthew’s!

Best,
Cait

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