Recently discovered are the bones of this 10-pound frog. Interesting as the animal is as yet another example of current species as smaller than ancient ones, it comes with additional questions. For example, the skeleton was found in Madagascar. Though there are giant frogs in Africa, these particular bones are not related to those frogs – instead, they are related to much smaller South American varieties. Quoi? Scientist are hypothesizing that a) theories of continental shift and how closely the continents were at that time may be incorrect and/or that b) the froggies crossed from Africa to the Americas on a land bridge, possibly via Antarctica.
Some of you may be familiar with another land bridge theory from your elementary days involving Native Americans crossing via the Arctic from Asia. It may surprise you that this theory has been partially debunked, though not thrown out in its entirety (yet). In case you’ve forgotten, let me refresh your memory a bit. The Bering Land Bridge model, or Beringia model, claims that land in the Arctic was uncovered during several ice ages (when the sea shrunk) and allowed for different species to travel and mix between the Asian and American continents. Fair enough – there is adequate fossil and evolutionary evidence to authenticate this claim for a variety of species going in either direction. The second part of the theory is what’s more contested. It supposes that people crossed the land bridge from Asia around 12,000 BC, discovered and explored the only path between two giant glaciers that led to more fertile land at the south (sometimes only 10 meters in width), and spread Clovis culture throughout the Americas, all the way down to the southernmost tip of South America, all within a 1,000 year period. It is a bit unlikely, but for a long time it was the most reasonable theory.
There was some questionable evidence of earlier colonization from archaeological sites, but no one really took it seriously until Mesa Verde was analyzed by a whole team of archeologists from different countries. This site showed evidence of human habitation about 1,000 years earlier than the earliest Clovis settlement up in North America. If the Clovis land bridge people handn’t even gotten to South America yet, who were these earlier inhabitants, where did they come form, and what happened to them? Theories blossomed – they came across following the Bering Land Bridge in boats and then followed the coastline of the Americas south much more quickly than the land travelers. They came from Australia in boats via Antarctic islands. Some of them came across the Atlantic. Of course, some of these theories were more reasonable than others, but for various reasons, they all lacked one thing – evidence.
And that’s what we lack for Mr. Frog now. Who knows? His bones may teach us to rethink everything we know about geologic drift, or everything we think we know about the population of the Americas. But especially in relation to younger children who soak up information like sponges, it should teach us at least one thing – give tehm wisdom rather than knowledge. The specific details of history and science are not really relevant, and, given the current rate of new discoveries and refinements, will change in their lifetimes. But a method of analyzing, questioning, and researching specific data for themselves – that will serve them well indefinitely.