Cosmos is getting good ratings it looks like: (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/tv-ratings-foxs-cosmos-pulls-687189)
People are interested in this and I hope parents watch this show with their kids so the next generation can get started on the right foot and have a basic understanding of how things operate in this cute little Scenario called Universe we got going on here. Kids will dig it because the special effects are done very well and the visuals will really catch a younger audience's attention.
I also really dig that it has a comedic slant to it, it's lead in is Fox's cartoon shows and the producer of the new Cosmos is Seth Macfarlane who is a funny guy. I think comedy and humor is the most important thing humans have and explaining anything difficult is always more enjoyable to the audience if it's done in a light-hearted and humorous way.
Ok, so the show rules, that's for sure, but I do have to make one small critique of one small statement made in the last episode regarding "land bridges."
In Episode 9, Neil presents the theory of land bridges explaining why certain species of flora and fauna appear on both sides of the ocean (i.e. on Brazil and similarly on Africa)...stating that land bridges were suggested to be the reason, these bridges being land masses that are now under the ocean and cease to be visible.
In the next segment he promptly refutes this theory and we are treated to a nice animation of one Marie Tharp and her work into researching tectonic plates. The real reason as to why certain flora and fauna appear on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean is explained that it was due to those land masses being one singular unit in the past. Yes, before the moving of the tectonic plates, both those land masses were connected. The continents look like puzzle pieces for a reason, it is because they used to be one singular land mass before breaking up.
A few segments down the line, we are given another land bridge theory, very quickly stating that the aboriginal populations of the Americas came to be here by crossing a land bridge that is now under water/ice (usually referred to as the Bering Strait bridge).
It seemed odd that the first theory of land bridges was quickly debunked and falsified on the show yet the second land bridge explanation was just sort of a quick aside/throw-a-way statement with no follow-up.
I would like to offer two alternate theories as to how the Native Americans came to the Americas for the sake of argument.
Theory 1: Ocean-Faring
It always strikes me odd and even offensive when people say things like "Columbus Discovered America!" because it doesn't make much sense. If he discovered it then why were there people already fucking there?
I sometimes feel that this mind set that people tend to believe that Europeans were this advanced culture and everyone else was savage and retarded is maybe the most ridiculous thing ever. The Land-Bridge theory of how the Natives got to the Americas strikes me as being part of this backward mindset as well. It seems like people came up with this theory whilst thinking along the lines of "Well, how did a bunch of savages get here? They are too stupid to use boats so I guess they must have walked."
If you know anything about Maritime and Sea-Faring history then you probably know that small wooden vessels, wind-powered vessels, man-powered vessels, and even deep-bellied cargo ships were being used way before the "exploration age" of the Europeans. Deep-bellied vessels which were able to hold cargo were being used way back in B.C. times by many different cultures around the world (from Africa, to Arabia, to Asia, etc.).
South East Asia is the major concern for this theory, although any sea-faring culture could have made it to North America, South East Asians are by far the likely culture to have done so. It is a theory I first came across in Critical Path and it seems to check out.
Does the current physiognomy of Native Americans look similar to Africans? No. Europeans? No, not really. What about South East Asians? I'd say it's much closer than anything else.
It's like a chain those islands...it goes Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua, Solomon Islands, Vanatu, Fiji, Samoa, Rapa Nui/Easter Island (the one with the Face Statues).....then next thing you know, boom, your island hopping adventure has landed you in South America.
Carbon dating places the construction of the Moai statues on Rapa Nui island at around 1200 A.D., that's quite a few centuries ahead of Colombus. Rapa Nui is dead smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean...how could people have been there building Moais in 1200? This island is only accessible by ship...there's is no other option of getting to Rapa Nui.
Are you with me? Obviously if island hoppers in their vessels from South East Asia were able to get to Rapa Nui (which is way out in the Pacific) then obviously they could get to the South American landmass. It's literally that simple.
The whole "Land Bridge" theory, I really believe, is for Euro-descended peoples to pretend other cultures didn't have technology. Obviously someone took a boat to Rapa Nui because there's no other way to access it. Island hopping down East Asia and over the Pacific is BY FAR the most likely means that they accessed South America.
Theory 2: Boats n' Snow
That covers the South pretty good. It's pretty obvious and the proof of the Moais does tend to show that white Europeans were not the first people to construct deep-bellied ocean-faring vessels. Yet, what about the North? Does the Bering Strait land bridge still hold up in explaining Inuit migrations?
I don't think it applies in this case either.
Episode 9 of Cosmos claimed that the migration took place whilst the ice was melted and a land bridge exposed itself. Is that the only way those Inuits could have managed to migrate to North America, by patiently waiting millions of years for an ice age to end and then politely walking over the exposed land bridge and settling down in northern North America.
I don't know about that, it's another cop out to say that Inuits were a backward people who couldn't do anything other than walk around like bozo-clowns all day. We're talking about people who adapted to live in the coldest climate on friggin' earth, you need some insight into tech and survival to do that.
They wore the skins of the animals they hunted to stay warm, they fished seals and whales out of the water (yes big huge whales), they built convex heat-trapping ice-block domes which kept them warm at night (the interior of a well built igloo is actually hot thanks to the body warmth of the people inside it).
You're telling me that people who could manipulate snow and ice to STAY WARM (that's pretty hard to do), people who could hunt fucking whales, people who made snow-shoes to walk great distances in snow and ice, people who tamed fucking wolves to pull their sleds for them (bad-ass)....are the same people who waited politely for nature to gradually melt the Arctic so they could politely cross some fabled "land bridge"?
I don't know about that, I think the Inuits just crossed the Arctic with wolves and kayaks when it was cold as fuck and barely even gave two or three cares about it.
It is perfectly 100% plausible that they crossed the strait using seal-skin re-enforced Kayaks. Researchers claim the oldest kayak known to them is over 4000 years old meaning these bad-ass Inuits were kayaking over small bodies of water for a good four thousand years.
I love the new Cosmos show it is 100% bad as can but I did take a small umbrage with one small statement made on it in the May 4th airing.
I do believe that this Land Bridge explanation of how Natives got to the Americas is a cop out by historians to try and portray the people in the Americas who were present prior to Euro-peoples as stupid savages who's only skill and technology they possessed was the ability to walk. That is totally not true in the least.
People who arrived in South America obviously had ocean-faring vessels prior to the European "age of exploration" and were by no means the savages many historians claim them to be.
The same is true for the Inuk people of the North, they obviously had to be pretty intelligent to devise a means to adapt to the harshest and coldest climate on earth. I'm sure they had little trouble kayaking and wolf-sledding over the Arctic...they are obviously bad ass people.