Saturday, November 22, 2008

Top Ten Useless Limbs

No, I'm not talking about my youngest child. I'm referring to a recent article I read regarding useless remnants in the anatomy of animals and humans in the course of evolution. Things like pelvis and thigh bones in whales and wings on flightless birds are interesting. Even the unnecessary sex organs on dandelions (apparently they reproduce by cloning themselves) are food for thought.

But what is really fascinating are the extra things that humans are carting around: extra molars (wisdom teeth), a tail bone, male breast tissue and nipples, and the appendix!

The human appendix is a small pouch attached to the large intestine where it joins the small intestine and does not directly assist digestion. Biologists believe it is a vestigial organ left behind from a plant-eating ancestor. Interestingly, it has been noted by paleontologist Alfred Sherwood Romer in his text
The Vertebrate Body (1949) that the major importance of the appendix "would appear to be financial support of the surgical profession," referring to, of course, the large number of appendectomies performed annually. In 2000, in fact, there were nearly 300,000 appendectomies performed in the United States!

Well, I still have mine, as well as my tailbone. I put my nipples to the test with my four babies and they seemed to do the job satisfactorily. Lastly, my wisdom teeth burst forth in 1975, screamed for attention, and were dealt with accordingly. Nowhere in the article did I read of the current necessity for pinkie toes or earlobes. The extra pounds are killing me!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rabbit, Black, Donought, and Puka

What do all of these have in common? They are all a type of hole. Those on the left are "Puka" (pooka) shells. Commonly found on the beaches of Hawaii, they are actually the remains of sea snail shells. Ground and tossed by the sand and waves they are polished and smooth; radiating a warm luster. The hole ("puka" in Hawaiian) is a naturally worn area on the top of the shell.

I discovered something important about myself recently. Sitting with this pile of puka shells in front of me, endeavoring to sort shells into incremental sizes, I had embarked on a project that could possibly take more than one day. This was not good. I realized right there and then that although I love a crafty project, I seldom have the patience for it to last beyond a 6 or 8 hour span.

So, replicas of the Sistine Chapel ceiling (7 years to paint. 10 years to restore) as well as an attempt to carve anything bigger than a chop (see July 22 entry) are out of the question. Once started they would end up in the black hole of discarded projects; never to be finished and/or admired. Don't worry, I did assemble all of these wonderful shells into a rustic necklace in under 5 hours. Too bad I'm going to disassemble them due to the fact that they didn't meet my stringent standards of aesthetics (it turned out ugly). Does re-assembling them into a different necklace just add ticks of time on the already-started project clock? I hope not or I will chuck them down the nearest rabbit hole and despondently eat a bucket of donought holes.