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As will become a familiar theme in this essay, the rise and fall of species and ecosystems is always primarily an energy issue. The Ediacaran extinction is a good example: Ediacaran fauna either an energy source for early Cambrian predators, ran out of food energy, ran out of the oxygen necessary to power their metabolisms, or lacked some other energy-delivered nutrient. After the extinction events, biomes were often cleared for new species to dominate, which were often descended from species that were marginal ecosystem members before the extinction event. They then enjoyed a of relative energy abundance as their competitors were removed via the extinction event.

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One example of this is shown in the Subjective view of deviance through a Constructionist Theory.

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Although our species, (named if we consider that Neanderthals and an are subspecies of but I will use in this essay to denote today’s humans), is the only survivor of the past several million years of human-line evolution, many of our cousins and ancestors were recognizably human. When did language begin, especially spoken language? Language certainly predated the appearance of . All great apes readily learn sign language, and even when monkeys chatter, the , and there is plenty of evidence that great ape vocalizations can . The and their corvid cousins can be hard to believe; they can solve some problems better than great apes can, and birds do not have a neocortex, but seems to function like the neocortex does. Becoming that began to . If fossils are sufficiently preserved, important anatomical features can provide key evidence for human abilities and behaviors. Turkana Boy, for instance, had his inner ear, which is responsible for balance, preserved well enough so that it provided more evidence that he did not spend time in trees (it is larger in primates that regularly climb). Similarly, the , which succeeded , apparently enabled keener hearing than its predecessors were capable of, and may have reflected the beginnings of spoken language. There is strong evidence that . As with many other human traits, the potential for language seems to have existed with monkeys (), and it kept developing more sophistication over vast stretches of time, and structural and cognitive changes interacted as human language developed into today’s version.

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Whatever the case may be, it appears clear that the population in Africa and Neanderthal population in Europe and the Middle East were isolated for tens of thousands of years, perhaps far more than 100,000 years, and humans used a toolkit like the Neanderthals’ until something happened between 70 and 50 kya. Just happened is a matter of great controversy, and in recent years, several disciplines have converged on the issue and are drawing a clearer picture today. Some key findings that shed light came from global DNA studies, linguistics partnering with evolutionary theory, and brain studies. In the past generation, as has been applied to many areas, a startling picture of the human journey has emerged. , probably for flexible power generation. For animals that reproduce sexually, the mother’s mitochondria are passed to her offspring, while virtually none comes from the father, if any. Geneticists can measure mutations in and approximate when two different animals shared a common ancestor, whether they belong to the same species or not. Similarly, regarding nuclear DNA, the produces a male mammal, and mutations in the Y chromosome can also be analyzed to estimate when two men shared the same ancestor. , but scientists have been aligning DNA results with fossil dates, which are considered more reliable, and have been resolving some limitations. But if the timing is suspect for such genetic analyses, far more confidence exists for descent relationships. Human DNA testing is a burgeoning business, used for everything from freeing to to examining the genetic heritage of the .

A number of acronyms in this essay are not commonly used and at least one is unique to my work.
Dalí’s piece The Temptation of Saint Anthony is a prime example of Surrealism.

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From about 32 kya to 22 kya, prevailed in Europe. That culture produced the and art such as the . By 20 kya, . But as far as human expansion is concerned, the Gravettian (and related cultures) are most notorious as mammoth hunters extraordinaire for those that lived on the near the ice sheets. To , they could not swim to Sahul, but flourished everywhere else they could get to. At , they were the ultimate hunter-gatherer kill. Also, near the ice sheets, meat could be stored in the ground. Cro-Magnons did just that, and that “freezer” full of meat led to the first seasonally sedentary humans. It long predated the Domestication Revolution when people could be sedentary year-round, but while the megafauna lasted, the first signs of what came later appeared as Cro-Magnons created villages around frozen mammoth meat. Gravettians hunted along migration routes and set traps and ambushes for mammoths. For thousands of years, mammoths were the primary focus of Gravettian hunters, and many scientists believe that humans at least . Gravettians probably used the bow and arrow, and using poisoned arrows on mammoths would have been child’s play, not a hazardous undertaking. They also tended to focus on the easy meat: the young, relatively defenseless, tender mammoths. Killing the offspring alone would have driven the slowly reproducing mammoths to extinction, and as the interglacial period began around 15 kya, there would have been new pressures on mammoths. One of them was that fewer mammoths meant that they were not terraforming their environments like they used to, and the warming climate probably reduced their range. For a mammoth facing humans, there was literally no place to hide (except maybe in the living room), and there is little reason to think that hunters would have eased up when mammoth numbers dwindled. If anything, their efforts would have to get the last ones, as they competed and fought over the final mammoths. In one lifetime or even several, the changes would have been barely noticeable, if at all. There was simply no way out for mammoths, and they went extinct south of the European ice sheets under the ministrations of Cro-Magnon hunters. More evidence of their fate is some mammoths surviving in refugia: islands where humans did not arrive until thousands of years later. mammoths survived on in the chain off of Alaska until less than six kya, and went extinct when humans arrived. Several hundred apparently full-sized mammoths survived on near Siberia and went extinct less than five kya, when humans arrived. In today's France and Spain, Gravettians also semi-settled along the migration routes of reindeer and red deer. From Spain across Europe, into today's Russia, Gravettians hunted migrating herds, and not only the mammoth was driven to extinction, but also the wooly rhino, the Irish elk, the musk ox, and steppe bison were driven to extinction as the ice sheets retreated. Neanderthals had been ambush hunting in similar fashion, and those animals, like the African megafauna, grew wary of humans, and killing those animals probably took planning and guile.

Examples of early Roman and Republican literature include Plautus, Ennius, and Terence.

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All species live within their niches, which are always primarily energy niches, in which an organism can obtain enough energy and preserve it for long enough to produce viable offspring. There are usually energy tradeoffs; efficiency could be sacrificed for rate of ingestion, so that efficiency was reduced but input was increased enough so that the increased cost of obtaining it was worthwhile, such as with . The primary measure of an organism’s success is its energy surplus, which is related to resilience. As an example, today a trout can live in a fast-moving current where food quickly arrives, which is efficient from an input perspective, but the energy spent swimming to maintain a presence in the current reduces the net energy surplus. A slower stream will provide less food per unit of time, but it also takes less energy to live there. In trout studies, the dominant trout will live where the optimal energy tradeoff exists, which leads to the greatest energy surplus. Less dominant trout will be pushed into the faster water, and the least competitive trout will be pushed into calm water and slowly starve. No species will last for long if it does not have a high enough energy surplus so that it can survive the vagaries of existence. The energy surplus issue has not been emphasized in biology during the past century, as the “” of a species has been emphasized, but it is the variable for understanding species fitness.

We can see an example of the rondeau in the following poem from Austin Dobson's :

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In the 1990s, I found the dating issue enthralling and saw it assailed by fringe theorists and by . A couple of decades later, I reached the understanding that, like all sciences, dating has its limitations and the enthusiasm for a new technique can become a little too exuberant, but dating techniques and technologies have greatly improved in my lifetime. Dating the , and using 100,000-year increments to place the dates, may seem a conceit, thinking that scientists can place that event with that precision, but over the years my doubts have diminished. When and can be tested, and the findings support not only Earth’s age previously determined by myriad methods, but also support the prevailing theories for the solar system’s and Moon’s formation, call me impressed. Controversies will persist over various finds and methods used, and scientific fraud certainly occurs, but taken as a whole, those converging lines of independently tested evidence make it increasingly unlikely that the entire enterprise is a mass farce, delusion, or even a conspiracy, as many from the fringes continue to argue. There is still a , and it is not a parody. I have looked into fringe claims for many years and few of them have proven valid; even if many were, their potential importance to the human journey was often minor to trifling. As the story that this essay tells comes closer to today’s humanity, orthodox controversies become more heated and fringe claims proliferate.