Friday, January 25, 2008

The Anthropocene

Jan Zalasiewicz and others at the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London are initiating the naming of a new geologic age.

They are suggesting that human activities have changed the composition of ocean floors, altered the distribution and diversity of species, and altered the Earth's atmosphere enough to constitute a new geologic epoch: The Anthropocene.

What does this mean for the every day anthropologist?
Maybe the public will realize that "anthro" = people, and that anthropologists study people, and I won't have to answer any more questions about dinosaurs.


kmunn said...

maybe people will finally learn that a paleontologist is not a type of anthropologist.

Thayne said...

...and if we could replace Indiana Jones and Lara Croft with Milford Wolpoff and Mary Leakey, then we would really be on to something. The flip side is that if our civilization gets any more nuts, we might very well enter the misanthropocene.

Derek said...

i think it's probably just going to confuse the issue even more. now people are going to think: anthro=geology so anthropologists obviously study dinosaurs.

Neil Davidson said...

There's no way we are in a position to say what epoch we are in. By the time geologists "realized" what epoch we are in, about 10,000 years of that epoch had already happened.

I think it's just Zalasiewicz's attempt to beat death; to be remembered as the one who "figured out" what epoch we are in.

Neil Davidson said...

But what do I know, I'm just a chef-to-be

Caroline said...

Anyone who knows what geologic epoch we're in is probably someone who already knows that anthros don't study dinosaurs. The people who ask those questions of us, are the ones who don't know what a geologic epoch IS! thus, we're doomed.