Whatever you do don’t call me spineless

Whatever you do don’t call me spineless

Peter Warland

It just so happens that I have accumulated a large number of strange friends.

Hals, for example, claims that his family is descended from Danish people, possibly those Vikings who raided all over Europe, visited Greenland and even took a tentative poke at Canada. If given half a chance, Hals will don a fake Viking helmet and then get upset when anyone has the nerve to remind him that Vikings never wore those stupid helmets with horns. He’ll claim that, if his ancestors didn’t wear those helmets they wouldn’t have been Vikings.

Hals favourite character is Hagar the Horrible and, with that ridiculous helmet on, looks remarkably like the cartoon character.

Cyril is happy to go further back than that with his family tree. He wanders back thousands of years to when the first humanoids migrated out of Africa and spread around the world. He claims that he is definitely one of those who ended up in England but that his family definitely didn’t go anywhere near the Neanderthal Valley.

When Hals and Cyril have bored the company to tears with their maundering on, I throw in the Burgess Shales and my earliest known ancestor, Pikaia.

Yes, I know his/her name although he/she is over 65 million years old and I am positive I have glimpsed his/her fossil up there in Yoho National Park.

Several people over the decades have attempted to disillusion me as to my ancestry. There was that vicar who almost had me convinced that I was like everyone else and descended from Adam and Eve who gave birth to Cain and Abel plus dozens of other boys and maybe some daughters. I had the temerity to ask him who all those boys married, but he went to work on other mythic tales.

When I was in college I learned that the indigenous Hopi believed that mankind emerged from the ground as did corn, while the Haidi had been convinced that their ancestors came ashore in sea-shells. However, those yarns tales sprang up in America, not The Garden of Eden where it really took place.

But I know I came from Pikaia and got going as a future human being 65,000,000 years ago.

You see, among all those fossilized life forms found in that Burgess shale, laid down in that ancient sea, only Pikaia has any semblance at all of a spine and we humans, like many other creatures, have spines. Pikaia is therefore the ancestor of all creatures with spines. Quod erat demonstrandum.

In my extreme youth I was convinced that I was descended from those Ancient Brits who smothered themselves with blue clay called wode. My role models included Queen Boudicca, she who gave the nasty Romans a run for their money. However, I wasn’t fond of those creepy Druids, who the Romans managed to wipe out before they did any more damage to the minds of my people.

Just the other day I watched a program on Knowledge where two apparently intelligent people attempted to convince me that, billions of years ago, some bacteria got over sexually familiar with fungi and so produced the first life forms that eventually became Ikaia then little old me.

So don’t call me spineless.