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骆驼的祖先是雪怪?

You have no idea where camels really come from | Latif Nasser

今天我要讲个故事
So, this is a story
是关于我们如何了解自己所知的事物
about how we know what we know.
这个故事是关于这位女性
It’s a story about this woman,
娜塔莉娅·丽琴斯基
Natalia Rybczynski.
她是一位古生物学家
She’s a paleobiologist,
她的专长就是到处挖掘古老的东西
which means she specializes in digging up really old dead stuff.
(音频)娜塔莉娅·丽琴斯基:是的有些人叫我’死东西’博士
(Audio) Natalia Rybczynski: Yeah, I had someone call me “Dr. Dead Things.”
我觉得她特别有意思
Latif Nasser: And I think she’s particularly interesting
因为她挖东西的地方
because of where she digs that stuff up,
都是在高纬度的北极圈 遥远的加拿大冻土带里
way above the Arctic Circle in the remote Canadian tundra.
2006年夏季的一天
Now, one summer day in 2006,
她在一个叫做法尔斯叶床的考古挖掘场
she was at a dig site called the Fyles Leaf Bed,
那里离地磁北极 只有不到10纬度的距离
which is less than 10 degrees latitude away from the magnetic north pole.
(音频)NR: 说真的这听起来其实没什么意思
(Audio) NR: Really, it’s not going to sound very exciting,
因为这将是背着包GPS笔记本电脑的一天
because it was a day of walking with your backpack and your GPS
看到所有像化石的东西都捡起来
and notebook and just picking up anything that might be a fossil.
然而在某一刻 她注意到了些东西
LN: And at some point, she noticed something.
(音频) 一片铁锈色的小东西
(Audio) NR: Rusty, kind of rust-colored,
大概有我的手掌心那么大
about the size of the palm of my hand.
它就躺在地面上
It was just lying on the surface.
她第一反应是 这只不过是木头碎片罢了
LN: And at first she thought it was just a splinter of wood,
因为这是曾经被法尔斯叶床的人类
because that’s the sort of thing people had found
发现过的史前植物碎片
at the Fyles Leaf Bed before — prehistoric plant parts.
但是那天晚上回到营地…
But that night, back at camp …
(音频)NR: 我拿出手持显微镜
(Audio) NR: … I get out the hand lens,
我仔细地一点点接近观察 突然发现
I’m looking a little bit more closely and realizing
这东西看上去好像没有年轮
it doesn’t quite look like this has tree rings.
有可能是因为保存的问题
Maybe it’s a preservation thing,
但是它看起来真的好像…
but it looks really like …
骨头
bone.
于是在接下来的四年里
LN: Huh. So over the next four years,
她反反复复去到那个地点
she went to that spot over and over,
最终收集到了30片碎片都是来自同一块骨头
and eventually collected 30 fragments of that exact same bone,
其中很多碎片都非常微小
most of them really tiny.
(音频)其实并不算很多一个小拉链袋就装得下
(Audio) NR: It’s not a whole lot. It fits in a small Ziploc bag.
然后她尝试像拼拼图一样把碎片都拼在一起
LN: And she tried to piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle.
但是这非常的有挑战性
But it was challenging.
(音频)它碎裂成好多细小的碎片
(Audio) NR: It’s broken up into so many little tiny pieces,
我们尝试用沙土和油灰复原但是看上去很糟糕
I’m trying to use sand and putty, and it’s not looking good.
最后我们就用了一个三维表面扫描仪
So finally, we used a 3D surface scanner.
喔喔!很帅对吧?
LN: Ooh! NR: Yeah, right?
(笑声)
(Laughter)
最后发现用虚拟的方式复原要简单多了
LN: It turns out it was way easier to do it virtually.
(音频)把他们拼在一起时 奇迹发生了
(Audio) NR: It’s kind of magical when it all fits together.
你如何才能把他们拼对
LN: How certain were you that you had it right,
你已经把它同时拼成了正确的形状?
that you had put it together in the right way?
有可能你按照另一种方式去拼
Was there a potential that you’d put it together a different way
最后看来 有点像长尾小鹦鹉什么的?
and have, like, a parakeet or something?
(笑声)
(Laughter)
(音频)(大笑)呃 不会啦 我们肯定拼对了
(Audio) NR: (Laughs) Um, no. No, we got this.
她发现她拼出来的是一根胫骨 也就是小腿骨
LN: What she had, she discovered, was a tibia, a leg bone,
而且这根胫骨来自一种偶蹄目的哺乳动物
and specifically, one that belonged to a cloven-hoofed mammal,
例如说牛、羊之类的
so something like a cow or a sheep.
但是这绝对不可能是牛或羊
But it couldn’t have been either of those.
它实在是太大了
It was just too big.
(音频)这东西的尺寸真的太大了 这是个庞大的动物
(Audio) NR: The size of this thing, it was huge. It’s a really big animal.
所以它会是什么动物呢?
LN: So what animal could it be?
现在遇到了瓶颈 于是她把其中一片碎片
Having hit a wall, she showed one of the fragments
展示给她在科罗拉多州的一些同事
to some colleagues of hers in Colorado,
然后他们有了想法
and they had an idea.
(音频)我们用了把小锯子 然后在碎片边角刮了一点点
(Audio) NR: We took a saw, and we nicked just the edge of it,
然后从那里传出了一些非常神奇的气味
and there was this really interesting smell that comes from it.
它闻起来有点像烧焦的皮肤
LN: It smelled kind of like singed flesh.
这是一个娜塔莉娅认识的气味
It was a smell that Natalia recognized
她在大体解剖实验室切割头骨时闻过
from cutting up skulls in her gross anatomy lab:
那就是胶原蛋白
collagen.
胶原蛋白让我们的骨头具有硬度
Collagen is what gives structure to our bones.
一般来说 经过了那么多年
And usually, after so many years,
它会自然分解
it breaks down.
然而对这个情况 北极好像一个天然冰柜将其保存
But in this case, the Arctic had acted like a natural freezer and preserved it.
过了一两年时间 娜塔莉娅去布里斯托参加一个大会
Then a year or two later, Natalia was at a conference in Bristol,
她看到她的一个同事名叫麦克·巴克利
and she saw that a colleague of hers named Mike Buckley
在演示一种新技术 他称之为“胶原蛋白指纹技术”
was demoing this new process that he called “collagen fingerprinting.”
事实证明 不同物种的胶原蛋白
It turns out that different species have slightly different structures
其结构有微小的差异
of collagen,
所以如果你有一个未知骨头的胶原蛋白信息
so if you get a collagen profile of an unknown bone,
你可以跟已知物种的胶原蛋白信息进行比对
you can compare it to those of known species,
所以谁知道呢 也许你就找到了匹配的的信息
and, who knows, maybe you get a match.
所以她给麦克寄了一片碎片
So she shipped him one of the fragments,
用联邦快递
FedEx.
(音频)当然啊 你要紧盯配送进度 它很重要的啊
(Audio) NR: Yeah, you want to track it. It’s kind of important.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
然后他处理了样本
LN: And he processed it,
把它与37个当代已知的哺乳动物物种相比较
and compared it to 37 known and modern-day mammal species.
结果找到了一个配对!
And he found a match.
最后的结论是娜塔莉娅在高纬北极圈发现的
It turns out that the 3.5 million-year-old bone
这块具有350万年历史的骨头
that Natalia had dug out of the High Arctic
是来自…
belonged to …
一匹骆驼
a camel.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
(音频)我在想,什么?如果没搞错 这太惊人了
(Audio) NR: And I’m thinking, what? That’s amazing — if it’s true.
所以他们测试了一大堆碎片
LN: So they tested a bunch of the fragments,
对每个碎片都得到了相同的结果
and they got the same result for each one.
然而 根据他们发现的那块骨头的大小来判断
However, based on the size of the bone that they found,
这意味着这匹骆驼比现代骆驼大了30%
it meant that this camel was 30 percent larger than modern-day camels.
那么这匹骆驼大概2.7米那么高
So this camel would have been about nine feet tall,
而且重达一吨
weighed around a ton.
(惊呼)
(Audience reacts)
对啊
Yeah.
娜塔莉娅发现了一匹“北极巨驼”
Natalia had found a Giant Arctic camel.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
现在你听到“骆驼”一词
Now, when you hear the word “camel,”
脑海里浮现的是这样的画面:
what may come to mind is one of these,
东亚和中亚地区的双峰驼
the Bactrian camel of East and Central Asia.
但更有可能的是你脑海里的图像
But chances are the postcard image you have in your brain
画风更像这样:单峰骆驼
is one of these, the dromedary,
典型的沙漠动物
quintessential desert creature —
常常出没在炎热沙漠地带 例如说中东或撒哈拉地区
hangs out in sandy, hot places like the Middle East and the Sahara,
背上有一个超大的驼峰
has a big old hump on its back
让它为沙漠中的长途跋涉储存水分
for storing water for those long desert treks,
还有宽大的脚掌帮助他们踏过沙丘
has big, broad feet to help it tromp over sand dunes.
所以这些家伙们到底是怎么跑到高纬北极圈去的呢?
So how on earth would one of these guys end up in the High Arctic?
其实科学家早就知道了
Well, scientists have known for a long time, turns out,
在娜塔莉娅的发现之前就知道
even before Natalia’s discovery,
骆驼最早是从美洲发源的
that camels are actually originally American.
音乐:美国国歌《星条旗之歌》
(Music: The Star-Spangled Banner)
(笑声)
(Laughter)
他们发源于这里
They started here.
骆驼们所存在的4500万年里有4000万年的时间
For nearly 40 of the 45 million years that camels have been around,
你只可能在北美洲找到它们
you could only find them in North America,
总共有20种不同的物种或许比这更多
around 20 different species, maybe more.
(音频)如果我们把它们排成一列 它们看上去会有不同吗?
(Audio) LN: If I put them all in a lineup, would they look different?
会啊 他们的身体大小差异很大
NR: Yeah, you’re going to have different body sizes.
有一些的脖子特别长
You’ll have some with really long necks,
所以它们功能上很像长颈鹿
so they’re actually functionally like giraffes.
有些还有长鼻子像鳄鱼一样
LN: Some had snouts, like crocodiles.
(音频)它们特别原始 最早的一些可能非常小
(Audio) NR: The really primitive, early ones would have been really small,
几乎像一只小兔子了
almost like rabbits.
什么?兔子大小的骆驼?
LN: What? Rabbit-sized camels?
(音频)最早的一些是的
(Audio) NR: The earliest ones.
那些你可能都认不出来了
So those ones you probably would not recognize.
我的天啊 我好想要只“兔骆驼”做宠物!
LN: Oh my God, I want a pet rabbit-camel.
(音频)我知道啊 这一定会很棒的吧?
(Audio) NR: I know, wouldn’t that be great?
(笑声)
(Laughter)
然后大约300万到700万年前
LN: And then about three to seven million years ago,
骆驼的一个分支向南迁徙到了南美洲
one branch of camels went down to South America,
它们在那里演化成美洲驼或者羊驼
where they became llamas and alpacas,
另外一个分支跨过了白令陆桥
and another branch crossed over the Bering Land Bridge
到达了亚洲与非洲
into Asia and Africa.
大概在最后一个冰川纪的末尾
And then around the end of the last ice age,
北美的骆驼彻底灭绝了
North American camels went extinct.
那么 科学家早都知道这些了
So, scientists knew all of that already,
但是这并不能完全解释娜塔莉娅 怎么在那么北的地方发现骆驼的
but it still doesn’t fully explain how Natalia found one so far north.
这里从温度的角度来说简直就是撒哈拉的反义词
Like, this is, temperature-wise, the polar opposite of the Sahara.
实话实说
Now to be fair,
350万年以前的时候
three and a half million years ago,
当时平均气温比现在高了22摄氏度
it was on average 22 degrees Celsius warmer than it is now.
所以那里可以算是一个北部森林
So it would have been boreal forest,
有点像今天的育空河流域或者是西伯利亚
so more like the Yukon or Siberia today.
但是它们还是有六个月长的冬天
But still, like, they would have six-month-long winters
所有的池塘都会被冰封
where the ponds would freeze over.
你会遇到暴风雪
You’d have blizzards.
你会遇到连续24小时的黑夜
You’d have 24 hours a day of straight darkness.
到底…到底怎么回事?
Like, how … How?
这些撒哈拉沙漠的超级明星
How is it that one of these Saharan superstars
怎么可能在这种严寒条件存活的?
could ever have survived those arctic conditions?
(笑声)
(Laughter)
娜塔莉娅和她的同事们觉得他们找到了答案
Natalia and her colleagues think they have an answer.
而且这个答案相当机智
And it’s kind of brilliant.
如果说骆驼的这些特性 不像我们认为那样是为了
What if the very features that we imagine make the camel so well-suited
适应撒哈拉沙漠而产生
to places like the Sahara,
而是因为要度过严冬才演化出来的呢?
actually evolved to help it get through the winter?
假如说那些宽大的脚掌不是为了踏过沙丘
What if those broad feet were meant to tromp not over sand,
而是像雪地靴一样踏过雪原呢?
but over snow, like a pair of snowshoes?
假如说那些驼峰 这简直是天大的新闻!
What if that hump — which, huge news to me,
储存的不是水分而是脂肪
does not contain water, it contains fat —
(笑声)
(Laughter)
驼峰实际上是为了让骆驼度过
was there to help the camel get through that six-month-long winter,
缺少食物的六个月寒冬?
when food was scarce?
假如说远在那以后 它们跨越大陆桥之后
And then, only later, long after it crossed over the land bridge
才将这些冬季特性改造 使其适应炎热的沙漠环境?
did it retrofit those winter features for a hot desert environment?
就比如说那些驼峰可能在炎热地带对骆驼有好处
Like, for instance, the hump may be helpful to camels in hotter climes
因为当你的脂肪堆积在同一处
because having all your fat in one place,
你懂的 像一个“脂肪背包”
like a, you know, fat backpack,
意味着你身体的隔热层
means that you don’t have to have that insulation
不必覆盖全身
all over the rest of your body.
于是这让散热更容易了
So it helps heat dissipate easier.
就是这个疯狂的想法
It’s this crazy idea,
让骆驼身上看似典型的沙漠特性
that what seems like proof of the camel’s quintessential desert nature
突然变成它们起源于高纬北极的证据了
could actually be proof of its High Arctic past.
其实我不是第一个讲这故事的人
Now, I’m not the first person to tell this story.
其他人已经讲过以此赞叹生物进化之神奇
Others have told it as a way to marvel at evolutionary biology
或者以此瞥一眼未来的气候变化情况
or as a keyhole into the future of climate change.
但我超爱这个故事有另一个不同的原因
But I love it for a totally different reason.
对我来说这是一个关于我们的故事
For me, it’s a story about us,
关于我们如何认知世界
about how we see the world
关于这种认知如何改变
and about how that changes.
我的职业是历史学家
So I was trained as a historian.
我发现 其实很多科学家也是历史学家
And I’ve learned that, actually, a lot of scientists are historians, too.
他们把过去的事情搞明白
They make sense of the past.
他们讲述宇宙、地球和地球生物的历史
They tell the history of our universe, of our planet, of life on this planet.
作为一个历史学家
And as a historian,
你的脑海里要有个思路 思考这个故事怎么进行下去的
you start with an idea in your mind of how the story goes.
(音频)我们编故事 然后我们就顺着思路说下去
(Audio) NR: We make up stories and we stick with it,
就好像沙漠的骆驼 对吧?
like the camel in the desert, right?
这是个超棒的故事!骆驼简直是非常适合沙漠
That’s a great story! It’s totally adapted for that.
显然 骆驼一直就住那里
Clearly, it always lived there.
但是在任何时候 你都可能发现些细小的线索
LN: But at any moment, you could uncover some tiny bit of evidence.
你可能发现一些小东西
You could learn some tiny thing
迫使你重塑你自认为知道的一切
that forces you to reframe everything you thought you knew.
就像这个例子 这一个科学家发现这一片碎片
Like, in this case, this one scientist finds this one shard
她还以为这是木头
of what she thought was wood,
正因为这个发现 科学界诞生了一个全新的、反直觉的理论
and because of that, science has a totally new and totally counterintuitive theory
解释为什么这个奇怪的、长得像长毛怪的生物
about why this absurd Dr. Seuss-looking creature
长成现在的样子
looks the way it does.
对我来说 这彻底颠覆了我对骆驼的看法
And for me, it completely upended the way I think of the camel.
它从一种只针对这一特定环境
It went from being this ridiculously niche creature
而存在的生物
suited only to this one specific environment,
变成了一个环球旅行家 只是恰好出现在了撒哈拉沙漠
to being this world traveler that just happens to be in the Sahara,
而且随时可能出现在任何地方
and could end up virtually anywhere.
(掌声)
(Applause)
这是阿祖力
This is Azuri.
嗨 阿祖力!你还好吗?
Azuri, hi, how are you doing?
来 我给你带了点吃的
OK, here, I’ve got one of these for you here.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
阿祖力刚刚完成她的特约演出
So Azuri is on a break from her regular gig
从纽约无线电城音乐厅过来
at the Radio City Music Hall.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
这可不是说笑的
That’s not even a joke.
随便啦…
Anyway —
说真的 阿祖力在这里作为一个鲜活的例子
But really, Azuri is here as a living reminder
说明这个世界的故事是瞬息万变的
that the story of our world is a dynamic one.
我们要有主动性 去大胆做出改变、重新想象
It requires our willingness to readjust, to reimagine.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
阿祖力 你说对不对啊?
Right, Azuri?
真的 我们与看待世界的全新视角
And, really, that we’re all just one shard of bone away
只有一片碎骨头的距离罢了
from seeing the world anew.
感谢各位
Thank you very much.
(掌声)
(Applause)

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译制信息
视频概述

生物学家在极寒之地捡到一块化石碎片,却不知与遥远的撒哈拉沙漠有什么关系。多少历史埋藏在时间的岁月中,等待我们去发掘……

听录译者

收集自网络

翻译译者

Ljimnn

审核员

与光同尘

视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9V6OKlY80k

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