hominid diet

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Marc Verhaegen

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May 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/20/98
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>Paul Crowley
>It is probable that robusts and graciles occupied closely parallel niches.
They shared unique characteristics -- bipedalism, manipulative ability,
large brains, hard teeth, and no doubt much else; their divergence was
recent and probably no more than a matter of geography.

- australopith bipedalism: not the fully developed human bipedalism, but
short-legged wading bipedalism, somewhat more than in walking or wading apes
& proboscis monkeys
- manipulative ability: probably not (much) more than in apes or panda bears
manipulating bamboo or raccoons or (sea)otters, not the human independence
of index finger & fingers 3-5
- large brains: australopiths did not have (much) larger brains than apes &
were apelike in all respects as far as we know

The difference of gracile (earlier) vs robust australopiths (2-1mya) was
possibly due to the Pleistocene cooling: more open country, less trees, less
soft fruits & herbs. Possilby africanus evolved into robustus at about the
same time when afarensis evolved in boisei (synchronous parallel evolution
due to the same climatic changes?).
The biggest difference is not that between robust & gracile australopiths,
but that between australopiths & Homo.

>In the hominid family we have several species with a truly astonishing
adaptation -- bipedalism!

We must make a distinction between bipedalism that is seen in all primates
that go wading (proboscis monkeys wade in mangrove forests but also walk &
run bipedally on land, macaques on the beach, lowland gorillas in swamps,
bonobos & other apes occasionally) & our present-day & rather recent
long-legged & fully erect bipedalism.

>> Please give an alternative theory.
>>
>I've posted it here many times before, but once more for your benefit: I
believe that it was shellfish-eating, primarily on the marine littoral.


Yes, no doubt, see my papers & book.
But maybe only Homo & not australopiths.
Or maybe the australopith proneness to eat hard woody plants (nuts, reed &
babmboo stalks?) could have been preadapted by earlier small bivalve
crushing (last common ancestor of (only African?) great hominoids?).
Walruses don't have thick enamel, but suck mussels etc., but sea-otters seem
to have thick enamel.

Marc

Norman K. McPhail

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May 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/21/98
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crow...@hotmail.com wrote:

>
> "Marc Verhaegen" <Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:
>
> > - australopith bipedalism: not the fully developed human
> > bipedalism, but short-legged wading bipedalism, somewhat more
> > than in walking or wading apes & proboscis monkeys
>
> You need to decide whether the australopiths were bipedal or
> not. Let me suggest some tests: (a) Could males wield clubs and
> use stones as weapons?

I would like to suggest that the mere ability to use sticks and stones
as weapons is a long way from the regular use of these inventions as
substitutes for fangs and claws. Most great apes can and do fashion
branches as tools to fish for termites and they are known wield sticks
as weapons. They also are known to use rocks to crack open nuts. And
they can be regularly seen throwing all kinds of things for defense and
to express their hostility.

So I'm not sure how the mere use of sticks and stones might relate to
bipedalism. On the other hand, if they used these weapons regularly in
hunting and defense, they would need to carry them around with them.
But regular use of these weapons would mean that there was a great leap
of foresight. They would need to understand that their lives depended
on having these weapons close at hand.

But then we get into a chicken and egg problem. Did they get in the
habit of carrying these weapons around with them because they were
bipedal? If so, all they had to do was remember to take their weapons
with them. That would enable those who were smart enough to think ahead
a little to survive the arms race with the predator cats and dogs.

Or was it those apes who were willing to endure the pain of walking
upright that were able to pass their genes on to the next generation.
Perhaps it was some of both. And don't forget that even females who
were burdened with infants would need to protect themselves and their
offspring with these weapons.

> (b) Could infants grip their mothers'
> hair (or sides) with the feet and arms in the same way as normal
> primates?

If their mothers didn't have much body hair, it would mean that they
would need to carry their babies the same way we do. Males could and
probably did carry youngsters too. Have you ever gone hiking with your
kids?

Again, it's important to consider how our forebears dealt with these
problems, but I'm not sure any single answer leads to a conclusion about
bipedalism. It seems to me that we might get a better sense of how all
these things relate to each other if we keep asking more questions and
linking all the problems into a mass to see how things might have
evolved.

> (c) Could females with infants run, climb, fight and
> defend themselses as well as normal primates?

Another good question that deserves a lot of thought. The answers here
might relate to the wide range of love stories we humans are capable of
participating in. Our complex courtship patterns and social structure
seem to suggest that groups of hominids could vary the patterns to fit
the conditions they had to face.



> > - manipulative ability: probably not (much) more than in apes
> > or panda bears manipulating bamboo or raccoons or (sea)otters,
> > not the human independence of index finger & fingers 3-5
>

> Their hands seem to me to be almost human. They certainly had
> opposable thumbs. They had just lost their large canines so
> they must have acquired other weapons -- and these were
> obviously the regular use of clubs and stones. The density of
> their skulls and development of large eyebrow ridges is further
> evidence.
>
> Once a animal starts to use hand-held weapons it is effectively
> impossible that it cease their use, and then re-grow large
> canines.
>
It may be unlikely that our forebears could retrace their genetic steps
and revert back to genetic weapons such as claws and fangs. But there
are lots of cases of species reverting back to old traits to stay in the
game of life. So again I would say that it was not so much the use of
these weapons that was significant, it was that they could imagine the
use of a stick or rock for their own benefit. I think it was this
understanding that was the big breakthrough.

And once they caught on that they could solve problems like their lack
of claws and fangs in their heads instead of waiting for their genes to
to give them these weapons, they would be likely to depend more and more
on their brains. But this meant that they had to recognize that they
were no match for the big cats and other predators that threatened
them. And then they had to grasp the fact that a stick or stone could
serve as a substitute for fangs and claws.

So I think it was this mental leap that would be hard to reverse once
they started to depend on their wits. Then it seems likely that sexual
selection would likely reinforce selection for both physical and mental
fitness. This is the kind of massive multiple selection pressure for
smart choices that might begin to hint at why our forebears neo cortex
quadrupled in size in just 2.5 million years.


> > The difference of gracile (earlier) vs robust australopiths
> > (2-1mya) was possibly due to the Pleistocene cooling: more open
> > country, less trees, less soft fruits & herbs. Possilby
> > africanus evolved into robustus at about the same time when
> > afarensis evolved in boisei (synchronous parallel evolution due
> > to the same climatic changes?).
>

> An evolutionary explanation based on climatic change is the
> first resort of a bad paleontologist (agreed there are an awful
> lot of them). Reduced resources just kill populations off.
> Why should dryer, colder conditions and an expansion of
> grasslands create more opportunities for a slow vulnerable
> hominid?
>

I'm a little suspicious of anyone who would brand a paleontologist good
of bad based on their views. It seems to me that climate changes along
with the resultant habitat changes could help explain some of the
physiological changes that species evidence. Certainly these changes
cause mass extinctions and migrations as well as significant changes in
many ecosystems.

And there is ample evidence that climatic changes triggered dramatic
changes in individual species. None of these changes occurs alone.
Still, climates, habitats, ecosystems and the species that occupy this
earth can and do change each other in an amazing vaieity of ways.



> > The biggest difference is not that between robust & gracile
> > australopiths, but that between australopiths & Homo.
>

> The difference between the robusts and graciles should be easy
> to explain -- mainly those gigantic, hyper-dense teeth. The
> reasons for the longer legs and larger brains of the homo line
> should not be too hard to see. Somehow they escaped the
> restraints of the initial hominid niche.
>

I prefer to think of the hominid as a generalist. From my point of
view, our forebears liked to live in the seams between major habitat
ecosystems. I think they were conmumate opportunists who liked to
straddle the margins between land and sea, forest and plain. The
beaches and the transition zone at the edge of the rain forest provided
them protection from their enemies in all these habitats. The water
provided a safe haven from land predators. The beach was an escape from
sharks. The trees also gave them a place to hide from the big cats and
dogs of the plains.

What's more, jumping between these multiple habitats gave them lots of
choices in what to eat. Think about it. Isn't adaptablilty something
we're really good at. But to me, all these choices meant that they had
to make good decisions. And again we come down to using their heads to
help them make all these choices.



> > We must make a distinction between bipedalism that is seen in
> > all primates that go wading (proboscis monkeys wade in mangrove
> > forests but also walk & run bipedally on land, macaques on the
> > beach, lowland gorillas in swamps, bonobos & other apes
> > occasionally) & our present-day & rather recent long-legged &
> > fully erect bipedalism.
>

> You left out the bipedalism exhibited by trained dogs or circus
> animals. They have about the same relevance.
>

Again, I'm suspicious of smart alec remarks like this. They often are
an attempt to cover up feelings or an intuition that we find hard to
articulate. There is a big difference in degree between mammals that
can walk around on two legs on occasion and those that walk on two legs
all the time. So far as I know, we are the only mammal that almost
always moves about on two legs.

From my perspective, the significance of the other apes and monkeys that
exhibit some bipedalism is that is demonstrates what may be partial
adaptations. We see these all the time in the wild. There are iguanas
in the Gallapagos who are paritally adapted to the marine environment.
There are also cormorants there whose wings are useless for flying, but
work fairly well as flippers. They are part way between the sea gulls
and the penguins.

It is not unreasonable to speculate that our forebears also went through
stages when their legs were partially adapted to bipedalism. And it is
not unreasonable to assume that aquatic adaptations were a part of this
transition to bipedalism.

> > But maybe only Homo & not australopiths [ate shellfish]
>
> I think that it's very important to have highly specific reasons
> as to why the first hominids went bipedal (given the enormous
> costs involved -- although I know you don't appreciate them).

Again, why the snide remark?

> Having a group of quasi-chimps start relying on a diet with
> large proportion of shellfish and stop sleeping in trees would
> be a major part of niche change.
>

Or a major part of the transition to becoming even more of a generalist.


> How do you explain australopith bipedalism?


>
> > Or maybe the australopith proneness to eat hard woody plants
> > (nuts, reed & babmboo stalks?) could have been preadapted by
> > earlier small bivalve crushing
>

> You're into promiscuous niche-swapping again. The evidence for
> the "proneness to eat hard woody plants" is negligible. The
> switch to such a diet by a frugivore animal is extremely
> unlikely.
>
Yet such a switch could become a necessity under the proper
circumstances.



> > sea-otters seem to have thick enamel.
>

> They have very large, hard, crushing teeth -- not unlike the
> robusts.
>
Regardless of their dentures, I think there is something very special
about sea otters. I have an intuitive sense that we share a lot with
them.

crow...@hotmail.com

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May 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/22/98
to

"Marc Verhaegen" <Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:

> - australopith bipedalism: not the fully developed human
> bipedalism, but short-legged wading bipedalism, somewhat more
> than in walking or wading apes & proboscis monkeys

You need to decide whether the australopiths were bipedal or
not. Let me suggest some tests: (a) Could males wield clubs and

use stones as weapons? (b) Could infants grip their mothers'


hair (or sides) with the feet and arms in the same way as normal

primates? (c) Could females with infants run, climb, fight and


defend themselses as well as normal primates?

> - manipulative ability: probably not (much) more than in apes


> or panda bears manipulating bamboo or raccoons or (sea)otters,
> not the human independence of index finger & fingers 3-5

Their hands seem to me to be almost human. They certainly had
opposable thumbs. They had just lost their large canines so
they must have acquired other weapons -- and these were
obviously the regular use of clubs and stones. The density of
their skulls and development of large eyebrow ridges is further
evidence.

Once a animal starts to use hand-held weapons it is effectively
impossible that it cease their use, and then re-grow large
canines.

> The difference of gracile (earlier) vs robust australopiths


> (2-1mya) was possibly due to the Pleistocene cooling: more open
> country, less trees, less soft fruits & herbs. Possilby
> africanus evolved into robustus at about the same time when
> afarensis evolved in boisei (synchronous parallel evolution due
> to the same climatic changes?).

An evolutionary explanation based on climatic change is the
first resort of a bad paleontologist (agreed there are an awful
lot of them). Reduced resources just kill populations off.
Why should dryer, colder conditions and an expansion of
grasslands create more opportunities for a slow vulnerable
hominid?

> The biggest difference is not that between robust & gracile


> australopiths, but that between australopiths & Homo.

The difference between the robusts and graciles should be easy
to explain -- mainly those gigantic, hyper-dense teeth. The
reasons for the longer legs and larger brains of the homo line
should not be too hard to see. Somehow they escaped the
restraints of the initial hominid niche.

> We must make a distinction between bipedalism that is seen in
> all primates that go wading (proboscis monkeys wade in mangrove
> forests but also walk & run bipedally on land, macaques on the
> beach, lowland gorillas in swamps, bonobos & other apes
> occasionally) & our present-day & rather recent long-legged &
> fully erect bipedalism.

You left out the bipedalism exhibited by trained dogs or circus
animals. They have about the same relevance.

> But maybe only Homo & not australopiths [ate shellfish]

I think that it's very important to have highly specific reasons
as to why the first hominids went bipedal (given the enormous
costs involved -- although I know you don't appreciate them).

Having a group of quasi-chimps start relying on a diet with
large proportion of shellfish and stop sleeping in trees would
be a major part of niche change.

How do you explain australopith bipedalism?

> Or maybe the australopith proneness to eat hard woody plants
> (nuts, reed & babmboo stalks?) could have been preadapted by
> earlier small bivalve crushing

You're into promiscuous niche-swapping again. The evidence for
the "proneness to eat hard woody plants" is negligible. The
switch to such a diet by a frugivore animal is extremely
unlikely.

> sea-otters seem to have thick enamel.

They have very large, hard, crushing teeth -- not unlike the
robusts.

Paul.

-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----
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Marc Verhaegen

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May 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/22/98
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crow...@hotmail.com heeft geschreven in bericht
<6k2fgg$kfn$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>...


>"Marc Verhaegen" <Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:
>
>> australopith bipedalism: not the fully developed human
>> bipedalism, but short-legged wading bipedalism, somewhat more
>> than in walking or wading apes & proboscis monkeys

>You need to decide whether the australopiths were bipedal or not.

It's not all or nothing. They were bipedal in swamps (wading or sitting
erect while eating herbs, as lowland gorillas do). Proboscis monkeys on dry
ground sometimes run on all four, but more often on the hindlimbs alone, &
in water they wade bipedally or swim. In swamps or in dense vegetation you
can walk on your hindlegs & grasp reed or twigs with your hands while
progressing.

>Let me suggest some tests:
>(a) Could males wield clubs and use stones as weapons?

Even chimps brandish sticks, throw stones, crack nuts with stones, use twigs
as probes...
IMO australopiths did the same but no more.

>(b) Could infants grip their mothers' hair (or sides) with the feet and
arms in the same way as normal primates?

Probably. Sit on their mother's back as in chimps etc.

>(c) Could females with infants run, climb, fight and
>defend themselses as well as normal primates?


Probably. Why not? There is not very much human in australopiths.
(You're still talking about australopiths, not about H.erectus, are you?)

The australopith manipulative ability was probably not (much) more than in
apes or panda bears manipulating bamboo, perhaps even less than in raccoons
or (sea)otters. Certainly not the human independence of finger 2 vs fingers
3-5.

>Their hands seem to me to be almost human. They certainly had
>opposable thumbs. They had just lost their large canines so
>they must have acquired other weapons --

Why "must"? Herbivores like horses or capibaras or beavers don't have "large
canines or other weapons".

>and these were obviously the regular use of clubs and stones. The density
of their skulls

No dense skulls in australopiths! (Crests in robusts, yes, as in apes)
There's a big difference between australopiths (apelike walking, climbing,
wading, rudimentary tool use) & H.erectus/neand./sapiens (diving, full
bipedalism, tools)

>and development of large eyebrow ridges is further evidence.

In all mammals the eyes are protected by bone. The eyebrow ridge protects
the frontal eyes. Nothing special about that.

>Once a animal starts to use hand-held weapons it is effectively
>impossible that it cease their use, and then re-grow large canines.

Why do you think so?


The difference of gracile (earlier) vs robust australopiths (2-1mya) was
possibly due to the Pleistocene cooling: more open country, less trees, less

soft fruits & herbs. Possibly africanus evolved into robustus at about the
same time when afarensis or aethiopicus evolved in boisei (synchronous


parallel evolution due to the same climatic changes?).

>An evolutionary explanation based on climatic change is the
>first resort of a bad paleontologist (agreed there are an awful
>lot of them).

No, see, eg, Darwin's finches & fluctuating evolution (dryer vs wetter years
> selection of larger vs smaller beaks etc.). On oscillating or parallel
evolution in a changing climate see, eg, SE Hartmann 1989 AJPA 80:145, P
Sheldon 1988 NS 1596:52, J Seger 1987 Nat.327:461, Gibbs & Grant 1987
Nat.327:511, M Cartmill 1982 in Spencer ed. History of Am. phys.anthrop.
Academic NY, White & Harris 1977 Sci.198:13, Darwin 1903 Origin p.171)

> Reduced resources just kill populations off.

Perhaps temporary starvation & reduction, but why killing-off?

>Why should dryer, colder conditions and an expansion of
>grasslands create more opportunities for a slow vulnerable
>hominid?

?? (I didn't say that)
More opportunities? Changing diet: perhaps less soft fruits & more woody
plants etc.

>> The biggest difference is not that between robust & gracile
>> australopiths, but that between australopiths & Homo.
>
>The difference between the robusts and graciles should be easy
>to explain -- mainly those gigantic, hyper-dense teeth. The
>reasons for the longer legs and larger brains of the homo line
>should not be too hard to see.

Why do you think so?

>> We must make a distinction between bipedalism that is seen in
>> all primates that go wading (proboscis monkeys wade in mangrove
>> forests but also walk & run bipedally on land, macaques on the
>> beach, lowland gorillas in swamps, bonobos & other apes
>> occasionally) & our present-day & rather recent long-legged &
>> fully erect bipedalism.
>
>You left out the bipedalism exhibited by trained dogs or circus
>animals. They have about the same relevance.

No, see photos & films of standing/walking/wading bonobos, lowland gorillas
& proboscis monkeys in the wild.

>I think that it's very important to have highly specific reasons
>as to why the first hominids went bipedal (given the enormous
>costs involved -- although I know you don't appreciate them).
>Having a group of quasi-chimps start relying on a diet with
>large proportion of shellfish and stop sleeping in trees would
>be a major part of niche change.

Isn't that what you call niche-swapping? All in one step is too much.

>How do you explain australopith bipedalism?

Wading primates, of course. See gorillas wading in swamps to get sedges, or
proboscis monkeys to reach other mangrove trees. The more they dwell in
swhallow water, the more bipedal they are.

>> Or maybe the australopith proneness to eat hard woody plants

>> (nuts, reed & bamboo stalks?) could have been preadapted by
>> earlier small bivalve crushing?

>You're into promiscuous niche-swapping again. The evidence for
>the "proneness to eat hard woody plants" is negligible. The
>switch to such a diet by a frugivore animal is extremely unlikely.

No: nuts, hard fruit exocarps, eg, A Walker 1981 Phil.Trans.R.Soc.Lond.B
292:57
(What I said was just a possibility: a gradual change from shells to hard
nuts or vice versa - mangrove capuchins eat both. I don't understand what
you have with "niche-swapping".)

>> sea-otters seem to have thick enamel.
>
>They have very large, hard, crushing teeth -- not unlike the robusts.


Yes, Walker 1981 thinks so. I'll ask other people who can know.

Do you think the robusts cracked small shells with their teeth? or did they
crack molluscs (including larger ones?) with stones & needed thick enamel
for the occasional hard inclusions in shellfish, see Walker 1981?

Whereas there are plenty of molluscs near Homo fossils (rudolf., ergaster,
early erectus), this is apparently not the case for the
Australopith.species, whether gracile or robust.
It seems that eating marshland plants (herbs, sedges, papyrus, reed,
bark...) sufficiently explains the typical dentition & the microwear
features of the Australopith.species (studies of PF Puech). This diet was
probably supplemented with fruits (soft fruits leave no traces, except the
etching of unripe fruits). The only indication for shellfish eating is the
thick enamel, which is present in nut-cracking primates, but perhaps also in
sea-otters.
Coypus (enamel resemblance with habilis) eat marshland plants like reed,
sedges, fruits, but also some shellfish.

Marc

Jim McGinn

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May 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/23/98
to

Paul Crowley wrote in message <356773dc...@news.indigo.ie>...

<snip>
>While many
>primates have frugivorous/omnivorous diets (e.g. chimps.
>baboons, macaques) they keep their identity. We do not have to
>fully comprehend the reasons -- just accept the fact. Other
>species/genera do not niche-swap; species within the same
>genera stick to similar niches. We must not make an exception
>for hominids just to put together a story.
>
>Paul.

Yes! This is very well stated. I've been meaning to post a response similar
to this but I was afraid it wouldn't be appreciated in this newsgroup.

Jim McGinn

Paul Crowley

unread,
May 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/24/98
to

On Thu, 21 May 1998 19:45:20 -0700, "Norman K. McPhail"
<no...@socal.wanet.com> wrote:

> On the other hand, if they used these weapons regularly in
> hunting and defense, they would need to carry them around with
> them. But regular use of these weapons would mean that there
> was a great leap of foresight. They would need to understand
> that their lives depended on having these weapons close at hand.

Why should the picking up of a weapon require such a high level
of consciousness? Foxes, magpies and squirrels don't
"understand" that they are laying up provisions for the winter
when they bury things. The ones that developed this instinct
prospered and the rest didn't. Why do you want to rule out
such a mechanism for hominids? Are we above instinct?

Chimps often use weapons. Frans de Waal describes how a young
chimp would not pass a cage containing a leopard unless he had
a strong stick in his hand. If that chimp had felt constantly
under threat, and if he had been better adapted for carrying,
and if he normally slept in the same place on the ground, then
there would have been little difficulty in keeping a stick with
him most of the time.

> But then we get into a chicken and egg problem. Did they get
> in the habit of carrying these weapons around with them because
> they were bipedal? If so, all they had to do was remember to
> take their weapons with them.

Those near-chimp australopiths (or near-chimp Ardpithecine-
Ramadines -- what's the right word here?) that got into the
habit of carrying a club survived; those that didn't got
beaten to death. Bipedalism in males would not have been hard
to develop. It's the females that we have to focus on.


>> (b) Could infants grip their mothers'
>> hair (or sides) with the feet and arms in the same way as normal
>> primates?

> If their mothers didn't have much body hair, it would mean that
> they would need to carry their babies the same way we do. Males
> could and probably did carry youngsters too. Have you ever gone
> hiking with your kids?

Your great weakness is that you never think in terms of
selective effects. If mothers needed a bit of hair to carry
their infants more effectively, they'd keep it. The ones that
didn't have hair (or maybe tufts of hair in the right places)
would do worse and would have fewer and less healthier,
children.


> So again I would say that it was not so much the use of these
> weapons that was significant, it was that they could imagine the
> use of a stick or rock for their own benefit. I think it was
> this understanding that was the big breakthrough.

Whenever you find yourself describing human evolution in terms
that you would never apply to other species, then you're
probably off the rails -- and certainly if the matter precedes
language.


> An evolutionary explanation based on climatic change is the
> first resort of a bad paleontologist (agreed there are an awful
> lot of them). Reduced resources just kill populations off.
> Why should dryer, colder conditions and an expansion of
> grasslands create more opportunities for a slow vulnerable
> hominid?
>

> I'm a little suspicious of anyone who would brand a

> paleontologist good or bad based on their views.

What criteria do you use? Their sex life? Paleontologists now
are in much the same situation as geologists were before 1967.
They don't have much opportunity to be good (except perhaps on
a technical level). So real bad thinking predominates and
numerous appalling theories are taken seriously.


> And there is ample evidence that climatic changes triggered
> dramatic changes in individual species.

No, there isn't. Most theories about the effects of climate
change are proved wrong within a few years -- as soon as better
data comes along.


> I prefer to think of the hominid as a generalist. From my
> point of view, our forebears liked to live in the seams between
> major habitat ecosystems. I think they were conmumate
> opportunists who liked to straddle the margins between land and
> sea, forest and plain.

We all prefer to think of our ancestors as the bee's knees.
It's a temptation to be avoided. Would you say this sort of
thing about other species? Are not foxes, racoons, bears,
crows and baboons, opportunists? Or even generalists? IMO
this is way of saying nothing. Is there a hypothesis here
that could be right or wrong? If so, how could it be proved
wrong?


>> > We must make a distinction between bipedalism that is seen in
>> > all primates that go wading (proboscis monkeys wade in mangrove
>> > forests but also walk & run bipedally on land, macaques on the
>> > beach, lowland gorillas in swamps, bonobos & other apes
>> > occasionally) & our present-day & rather recent long-legged &
>> > fully erect bipedalism.
>>
>> You left out the bipedalism exhibited by trained dogs or circus
>> animals. They have about the same relevance.
>>
>
> Again, I'm suspicious of smart alec remarks like this.

Hey, this is a newsgroup. If you say something stupid you are
liable to get a sharp answer. Those are the rules of the game.
So watch out.


> From my perspective, the significance of the other apes and
> monkeys that exhibit some bipedalism is that is demonstrates
> what may be partial adaptations. We see these all the time in
> the wild. There are iguanas in the Gallapagos who are paritally
> adapted to the marine environment. There are also cormorants
> there whose wings are useless for flying, but work fairly well
> as flippers. They are part way between the sea gulls and the
> penguins.

No, they are not part way between anything. Each species is
fully adapted to its niche. The phrase "partial adaptations" in
this context is an oxymoron.

>> I think that it's very important to have highly specific reasons
>> as to why the first hominids went bipedal (given the enormous
>> costs involved -- although I know you don't appreciate them).
>
> Again, why the snide remark?

Nothing snide. Marc specifically states that he doesn't think
bipedalism has major costs.


>> You're into promiscuous niche-swapping again. The evidence for
>> the "proneness to eat hard woody plants" is negligible. The
>> switch to such a diet by a frugivore animal is extremely
>> unlikely.
>
> Yet such a switch could become a necessity under the proper
> circumstances.

"Necessity" is meaningless in an evolutionary context. Billions
of populations of the millions of species go extinct every year.
All of them were under some "compulsion to change". They
couldn't. They died. What did "necessity" mean to them?

Paul.

Paul Crowley

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May 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/24/98
to

On Fri, 22 May 1998 19:19:55 +0200, "Marc Verhaegen"
<Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:

>crow...@hotmail.com heeft geschreven in bericht

>>You need to decide whether the australopiths were bipedal or not.

>>Let me suggest some tests:


>>(a) Could males wield clubs and use stones as weapons?

> Even chimps brandish sticks, throw stones, crack nuts with
> stones, use twigs as probes... IMO australopiths did the same
> but no more.

"But no more" . . ? All our relatives have large canines. How
did the australopiths manage without them? Chimps flee danger
by running up trees, so they're not inclined to hold onto
weapons. If the australopiths lived in more open territory they
would not have had this option. They'd have had to stand still
in a group, using stones and clubs to keep the predators (or
enemy hominids) at bay.


>>(b) Could infants grip their mothers' hair (or sides) with the
>>feet and arms in the same way as normal primates?
>
> Probably. Sit on their mother's back as in chimps etc.

I'm sure you rode on your parent's back as a small child - but
it had to be horizontal. The adult has to be quadrupedal (or
"quadrupedal"). You can't possibly suggest that Lucy et al. were
quadrupedal like this.

>>(c) Could females with infants run, climb, fight and
>>defend themselses as well as normal primates?
>
> Probably. Why not? There is not very much human in
> australopiths. (You're still talking about australopiths, not
> about H.erectus, are you?)

Female primates (other than humans) carrying large infants
_never_ travel bipedally on the ground. They always go
quadrupedally. Are you saying australopiths were the same???
Did female australopiths with infants walk quadrupedally??

Female apes and monkeys almost always have four free limbs.
So they can climb, run, fight, forage and so on. How many free
limbs did female australopiths-with-infants have?


>>Their hands seem to me to be almost human. They certainly had
>>opposable thumbs. They had just lost their large canines so
>>they must have acquired other weapons --
>
> Why "must"? Herbivores like horses or capibaras or beavers
> don't have "large canines or other weapons".

All animals such as horses, capybaras and beavers have their own
perticular ways of dealing with predators -- such as speed,
large sharp teeth or heavy claws. Hominids had none of these.
Most primates have large canines. The australopiths lost theirs.
This *must* mean that they no longer needed them, which *must*
mean that they had some other defence. Since they now had hands
capable of wielding weapons (and since we know that hominids
developed this practice at some point) there is IMO no other
possibility.


>>Once a animal starts to use hand-held weapons it is effectively
>>impossible that it cease their use, and then re-grow large canines.
>
> Why do you think so?

Because clubs and stones are much more effective weapons than
large canines. They can suffer great damage without harm to
the hominid. They are readily replaceable. They don't need
large amounts of supporting bone and tissue. The loss of large
canines was a remarkable development. I think the reasons are
obvious and only an allegiance to the theory that australopiths
are the ancestors of apes prevents you seeing them. It is up to
you to come up with your own reasons for your proposed loss and
re-acquisition of large canines.


>>reasons for the longer legs and larger brains of the homo line
>>should not be too hard to see.
>
> Why do you think so?

Longer legs and the bipedal stride are much more efficient. The
main question is why they didn't come earlier. I have suggested
that the australopiths may have needed to chimney up more-or-
less vertical tree trunks, thereby needing short legs and long
arms; and that the Homo line learned to use bindings -- putting
a band around their ankles, enabling them to chimney in the same
way as humans, so they were no longer restricted to the old
morphology. Regrettably this is not a testable theory. But it
could easily have been some cultural development of this nature.


>>Having a group of quasi-chimps start relying on a diet with
>>large proportion of shellfish and stop sleeping in trees would
>>be a major part of niche change.
>
> Isn't that what you call niche-swapping? All in one step is too
> much.

There had to be at least one niche-swap between the quasi-chimp
and hominids. It is parsimonious to keep them to the smallest
possible number.

I think the only reason you want to say that one niche-change
would involve too much, is that it is an unfamiliar idea. If
we put _anything_ (any one of nakedness, loss of the sense of
smell, tool-using, sweating, bipedalism, fixed sites, burial of
dead, use of dogs, altriciality, subcutaneous fat, infant fat,
high water needs, high salt needs, etc.) to a later stage then
we have an entire niche-swap to explain.


> (What I said was just a possibility: a gradual change from
> shells to hard nuts or vice versa - mangrove capuchins eat both.
> I don't understand what you have with "niche-swapping".)

Then you are not sensitive to the concept of niche. Blue tits.
coal tits, great tits, long-tailed tits, etc., occupy related
niches but have kept their identity for millions of generations.
They do not drift from one type of food to another. I accept
that such drift can happen among small isolated populations in
highly restricted ecologies (such the Darwin's finches you
mention) but it rarely occurs on continents. While many

Marc Verhaegen

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May 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/24/98
to

Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht
<356773dc...@news.indigo.ie>...


>On Fri, 22 May 1998 19:19:55 +0200, "Marc Verhaegen"
><Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:
>
>>crow...@hotmail.com heeft geschreven in bericht
>>>You need to decide whether the australopiths were bipedal or not.
>
>>>Let me suggest some tests:
>>>(a) Could males wield clubs and use stones as weapons?
>
>> Even chimps brandish sticks, throw stones, crack nuts with
>> stones, use twigs as probes... IMO australopiths did the same
>> but no more.
>
>"But no more" . . ? All our relatives have large canines.

Most australoptihs had short canines. Bonobos have +- short canines. See
below.

> How
>did the australopiths manage without them? Chimps flee danger
>by running up trees, so they're not inclined to hold onto
>weapons. If the australopiths lived in more open territory they
>would not have had this option.

Early & gracile australopiths lived in forested areas, esp. gallery woods...
Robusts lived in more open landscapes, not withouth trees, in marshlands...

Apes need their large canines for opening fruits... The males also for
intraspecific use.
Australopiths had a more herbivorous, less frugivorous diet than most
present-day apes, so long canines were a handicap.

> They'd have had to stand still
>in a group, using stones and clubs to keep the predators (or
>enemy hominids) at bay.

Rather improbable for Austr. (You're perhaps describing H.erectus?)
Leopards were the most dangerous. The smaller austr. could flee into the
trees or into the water, but perhaps the larger ones (some males almost as
big as gorillas) could use clubs, as chimps sometimes do.


>
>>>(b) Could infants grip their mothers' hair (or sides) with the
>>>feet and arms in the same way as normal primates?
>>
>> Probably. Sit on their mother's back as in chimps etc.
>
>I'm sure you rode on your parent's back as a small child - but
>it had to be horizontal. The adult has to be quadrupedal (or
>"quadrupedal"). You can't possibly suggest that Lucy et al. were
>quadrupedal like this.

You must compare Lucy's locomotion to that of proboscis monkeys, somewhat
less arboreal, somewhat more bipedal wading & swimming. I don't see problems
for her children, they could grasp her hairs.


>
>>>(c) Could females with infants run, climb, fight and
>>>defend themselses as well as normal primates?
>>
>> Probably. Why not? There is not very much human in
>> australopiths. (You're still talking about australopiths, not
>> about H.erectus, are you?)
>
>Female primates (other than humans) carrying large infants
>_never_ travel bipedally on the ground. They always go
>quadrupedally. Are you saying australopiths were the same???
>Did female australopiths with infants walk quadrupedally??

(There is no "primate locomotion". Primates are very diverse.)
Large infants could run or walk or, if necessary, easily sit on their
mother's back, whether she was bi-, tri- or quadrupedal. Difficult to say
which carrying position was commonest for the small infants, but there were
a lot of possibilites. Australopiths had a unique lifestyle (studies of CE
Oxnard). Chimp mothers with small infants often walk on three legs, holding
the baby with one arm. They did not have to travel far. Just a few
(deci)metres to get the next food item. I think you have to see more
wildlife films of apes.

>>>They had just lost their large canines so
>>>they must have acquired other weapons --
>>
>> Why "must"? Herbivores like horses or capibaras or beavers
>> don't have "large canines or other weapons".
>
>All animals such as horses, capybaras and beavers have their own
>perticular ways of dealing with predators -- such as speed,
>large sharp teeth or heavy claws. Hominids had none of these.

(Hominids are: australopiths, chimps, gorillas, humans - see molec.data &
see below.
If you mean fossil hominids, try to specify: australopiths or fossil Homo -
big difference.)
Both australopiths & extinct Homo lived at the edge between land & water. If
the danger came from the land, they fleed to the water (or trees in the case
of the australopiths), etc. Homo probably used stones or clubs,
australopiths rarely.


>Most primates have large canines. The australopiths lost theirs.
>This *must* mean that they no longer needed them, which *must*
>mean that they had some other defence. Since they now had hands
>capable of wielding weapons (and since we know that hominids
>developed this practice at some point) there is IMO no other
>possibility.

See above.
Australopiths (group animal) escaped predators +- like tapirs or capybaras
or proboscis monkeys do: running to the land or to the water or to the
trees, according to where the danger comes from. The biggest problem is
spotting the enemy before he's too near.

>>>Once a animal starts to use hand-held weapons it is effectively
>>>impossible that it cease their use, and then re-grow large canines.
>>
>> Why do you think so?
>
>Because clubs and stones are much more effective weapons than
>large canines. They can suffer great damage without harm to
>the hominid. They are readily replaceable. They don't need
>large amounts of supporting bone and tissue.

(Stones & clubs must be carried. Apes & monkeys can handle clubs, but prefer
not to use them frequently.)

>The loss of large canines was a remarkable development.

Not for herbivores! We see a relative canine reduction from graciles to
robusts, just as expected from their diet. I can't see any problem for
explaining the australopith canines.
As for Homo, in Mojokerto"in front of the upper canine there is a gap of 6
mm into which no doubt a much more powerful canine (more like that of an
anthropoid ape) could fit" (p.36 B.Rensch 1972 Homo sapiens. Columbia UP),
but other erectus had smaller canines.

> I think the reasons are
>obvious and only an allegiance to the theory that australopiths
>are the ancestors of apes prevents you seeing them.

I can't see anything typically human in australopiths, see my papers:

1990. African ape ancestry. Human Evolution 5, 295-297.
1994. Australopithecines: ancestors of the African apes? HE 9, 121-139.
1996. Morphological distance between australopithecine, human and ape
skulls. HE11, 35-41.

Australopithecine ancestors of African apes?

Palaeo-anthropological data do not exclude the possibility that chimpanzees
and gorillas could have had australopithecine-like ancestors. In fact, the
traditional hypothesis – that all australopithecines are closer relatives of
humans than of chimps or gorillas – has serious difficulties:
a. The apparent absence or extreme rarity of fossil ancestors or relatives
of any African ape is puzzling (fossils of orangs & all sorts of monkeys
have been found, but fossil-hunters, understandably, prefer to see the
"human" features (IMO=common hominid featrues) in the australopiths they
find rather than the much more numerous chimp or gorilla features)
b. Various australopith-like features are present in premature but not in
adult African apes (e.g. relative orthognathy, less dorsal foramen magnum,
more orthogrady).
c. Australopiths lack the uniquely derived features that set Homo, at least
since erectus, apart from nonhuman primates (e.g. external nose, very large
brain, very long legs)
d. Australopiths generally resemble the apes much more than they do humans.
e. At the time of the robust australopiths there already lived more
humanlike creatures like KNM-ER 1470, so the robusts at least are certainly
not in our ancestry.
The Laetoli footprints A and G suggest that australopithecines were partly
or fully bipedal. Bipedalism is generally considered to be the defining
feature of the hominids, which links australopiths with humans. But the
African apes’ locomotion is unique - plantigrady plus knuckle-walking - and
is easily derivable from some kind of “short”-legged plantigrade bipedalism
as is frequently seen in lowland gorillas wading in shallow waters and
occasionally in all African apes. If the African apes had more bipedal
ancestors, there is every reason to include them into the hominids – in
agreement with the comparative molecular evidence of DNA and proteins.


> It is up to
>you to come up with your own reasons for your proposed loss and
>re-acquisition of large canines.

No loss & re-acquisition (eg, oscilations of larger & smaller beaks in
Galàpagos finches according to the wetness or dryness of the previous
seasons), but strong overlap between apes/australopiths/Homo:
- afarensis & africanus had moderately projecting canines, but the robusts
were more herbivorous, hence shorter canines
- even in robusts SK-23, Natron, L-7-125 the mandible form (rectangle) is
within the common chimp range, outside the human range (WG Kinzey 1970
Nat.228:289)
- in gorillas & chimps "with advancing age, canines thend to wear flat to
the level of the incisors" & bonbos "have rel.smal & only slightly
projecting canine teeth"
- Mojokerto Homo erectus had maxill.diastemata as large as an orang's (see
above), much larger than in most australopiths
- selection for larger & smaller teeth can occur in very short evol.periods
(R.Silson 1988 Additive genes in selection & evolution. Greenfield Publ.
Tring, see also Calcagno & Gibson 1988 AJPA 77:505, and Darwin's finches)

>>>reasons for the longer legs and larger brains of the homo line
>>>should not be too hard to see.
>>
>> Why do you think so?
>
>Longer legs and the bipedal stride are much more efficient.
>The main question is why they didn't come earlier.

Yes, even babies still have rel.short legs. For walking & wading (beach,
rivers...), long legs might be advantageous (stork...), but for swimming &
diving shorter legs are better.

>>>Having a group of quasi-chimps start relying on a diet with
>>>large proportion of shellfish and stop sleeping in trees would
>>>be a major part of niche change.
>>
>> Isn't that what you call niche-swapping? All in one step is too much.
>
>There had to be at least one niche-swap between the quasi-chimp and
hominids.

No swap but shift.

>It is parsimonious to keep them to the smallest possible number.

Evolution is gradual: no niche-swapping, but diet-overlapping & gradual
shift.
The last common ancestor chimp+human already waded in
forest/gallery/mangrove swamps & ate herbs, fruits, nuts, cane, perhaps
already shellfish. The ape ancestors went inland (=australopiths) & became
more herbivorous, human ancestors went to the coasts & developed their
shell-processing (stone, later tool use) & diving abilities (eg, E.Schagatay
1996 The human diving response - effects of temperature & training.
Univ.Lund)

Simple, isn't it? No niche-swapping at all.

>I think the only reason you want to say that one niche-change
>would involve too much, is that it is an unfamiliar idea. If
>we put _anything_ (any one of nakedness, loss of the sense of
>smell, tool-using, sweating, bipedalism, fixed sites, burial of
>dead, use of dogs, altriciality, subcutaneous fat, infant fat,
>high water needs, high salt needs, etc.) to a later stage then
>we have an entire niche-swap to explain.

???
More shellfish-eating > more naked & SC fat & stone use.
Human long-legged bipedalism is more recent. See above.
Burial?? dogs??

>> (What I said was just a possibility: a gradual change from
>> shells to hard nuts or vice versa - mangrove capuchins eat both.
>> I don't understand what you have with "niche-swapping".)
>
>Then you are not sensitive to the concept of niche. Blue tits.
>coal tits, great tits, long-tailed tits, etc., occupy related
>niches but have kept their identity for millions of generations.

Not millions (is it 10 mya that they all split apart??).
Evolution exists, you know. It's usu. slow (oscillating = slow on the long
run), but when the environment changes (island colonisation, climatic
changes...) it can be "very fast".

>They do not drift from one type of food to another. I accept
>that such drift can happen among small isolated populations in
>highly restricted ecologies (such the Darwin's finches you
>mention) but it rarely occurs on continents.

What is "drift"?
See, eg, the parallel evolutionary "shifts" in the suids of White & Harris'
(1977 Sci.198:13).

Marc

Marc Verhaegen

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May 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/24/98
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Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht

<356771e4...@news.indigo.ie>...


>On Thu, 21 May 1998 19:45:20 -0700, "Norman K. McPhail"
><no...@socal.wanet.com> wrote:

>Whenever you find yourself describing human evolution in terms
>that you would never apply to other species, then you're
>probably off the rails -- and certainly if the matter precedes
>language.

Beautifully said!
(On what has been said above I mostly agree with Norman.)

...

>Marc specifically states that he doesn't think bipedalism has major costs.

???
I said that (short-legged) bipedalism is not such a great step for an
arboreal mammal that lives at the edge between land & water.

Marc

Gerrit Hanenburg

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May 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/24/98
to

Marc Verhaegen <Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:

>I can't see anything typically human in australopiths,

Then again, does Verhaegen know anything about the details of
australopithecine anatomy?

Synapomorphies of Australopithecus and Homo:

Five or six (Sts 14 and KNM-WT 15000) lumbar vertebrae.
Lumbar lordosis and sacral retroflexion.
Sacral ala laterally expanded.
Sacroiliac and hip joints closely approximated.
Pelvis with: mediolaterally expanded, superioinferiorly shortened, and
anteriorly rotated iliac blades; robust anterior iliac spines;
distinct sciatic notch; distinct iliopsoas grove; rugose and large
area for sacrotuberous ligament; retroflexed auricular surface with
extensive retroarticular area; robust posterior superior iliac spine;
sigmoid curvature of the iliac crest; dorsoventrally thickened pubic
symphysis; retroflexion of hamstring tuberosity; shortened iliac
shank.
Femoral neck long with human-like distribution of cortical and spongy
bone.
Distal femur with: high bicondylar angle, elliptical lateral condyle,
deep patellar groove with high lateral lip.
Tibia with straight shaft and distal articular surface perpendicular
to the shaft axis.
Calcaneus with: massive body, deep dorsoplantar dimension, ovoid
transverse section, horizontally oriented sustentacular shelf.
Proximal phalanges of the foot with dorsally oriented proximal
articular surfaces.
Metatarsals II-V with heads expanded superiorly.
Robust metatarsal V with large tuberosity.
Metatarsal I with robust triangular diaphysis and expanded head.
Univertebral articular pattern for the first rib.
Proximal humerus with shallow bicipital groove.
Distal humerus with: rounded lateral well of the olecranon fossa;
gracile lateral epicondyle; moderate-sized and cranially facing medial
epicondyle.
Radiocarpal joint perpendicular to the shaft axis.
Capitate with: proximodistally shortened axis; single and elongated
facet for MC II; shallow excavations for MC III articulations.
Metacarpals II-V relatively short.
(McHenry 1991, 1994)
Reduced canines and incisors.
Tooth enamel thick.
Foramen magnum positioned at or anterior to the bi-tympanic line.

And in the case of robust australopithecines add:
Pars petrosa ossis temporalis coronally oriented.
Flexed cranial base.
Vertically oriented mandibular symphysis.

Refs:

McHenry, H.M. 1991. First Steps? Analysis of the Postcranium of Early
Hominids. In Coppens, Y. and Senut, B.(eds) 1991. Origine(s) de la
Bipedie chez les Hominides. Paris: CNRS. pp. 133-141.

McHenry, H.M. 1994. Early Hominid Postcrania: Phylogeny and Function.
In Corrucini, R.S. and Ciochon, R.L.(eds) 1994. Integrative Paths to
the Past. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. pp.251-268.

Gerrit.

Norman K. McPhail

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May 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/24/98
to

Marc Verhaegen wrote:
>
> Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht
> <356771e4...@news.indigo.ie>...
> >On Thu, 21 May 1998 19:45:20 -0700, "Norman K. McPhail"
> ><no...@socal.wanet.com> wrote:
>
> >Whenever you find yourself describing human evolution in terms
> >that you would never apply to other species, then you're
> >probably off the rails -- and certainly if the matter precedes
> >language.
>
> Beautifully said!
> (On what has been said above I mostly agree with Norman.)

I find the "off the rails" metaphor typical of the mind set of most
scientists. It generally works well in the realms of physics and
biology. But as we begin to try to fathom how and why symbolic thought
self-organized, I think this "either/or" logic causes a big blind spot.

I recognize that that there were both genetic and instinctual components
involved in how and why we got to be ther way we are. So it is not
absolutely wrong to point out that deterministic selection was involved.
Yet I can't ignore the fact that somehow our forebears found a way to
change their gene changing problems into thought problems.

So my hypothesis is that the big breakthrough was our forebears'
understanding, however vague and gradual, that sticks and stones could
replace their lack of speed, claws, fangs and other waapons. And I
claim that this was at least as much of an insight as it was what we
might say was an instinctual or genetic change.

In my view, try as they may, scientists won't crack the secrets of the
emergence of thought until they change some of their basic assumptions
and thought modes. And if they want to lock themselves into a
deterministic reductionistic box, that's their business. I'm not here
on a mission to teach. And the last thing I want to do is to try to
convert some crusty scientist. My assumption is that I would never
succeed anyway.

On the other hand, I respect your opinions and find that your views and
explanations are well balanced and insightful. (For a scientist #:) So
I'm here mainly to learn from you.

This brings me to your comments on the brain size/birth canal question.
So I'll switch over to the other thread.

Norm

Marc Verhaegen

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May 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/24/98
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Gerrit Hanenburg heeft geschreven in bericht
<35681654...@news.kijfhoek.nl.net>...


>Marc Verhaegen <Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:
>
>>I can't see anything typically human in australopiths,

Typically human is what makes humans unique. The very large brain, the
external nose, the very long legs are completely absent in all
australopiths. It's true that australopiths had a more orthograde locomotion
(foramen magnum position, lumbar lordosis & related features), but it has
been repeated argued that some sort of bipedality (IMO wading) is the
ancestral condition of all hominids (=Afr.hominoids) (eg, Coon 1954,
Kleindienst 1975, Goodman 1982, Gribbin & Cherfas 1983, Hasegawa etc. 1985,
Edelstein 1987, my work see esp. "Australop.:ancestors of the Afr.apes"
Hum.Evol.9:121-139, 1994).

>Then again, does Verhaegen know anything about the details of
>australopithecine anatomy?

Then again, is Hanenburg always so biased in his data?
Why does he omit the even more numerous apelike features in the
australopiths??

We know of course McHenry's list.
It looks more impressive than it is. Just see Stern & Susman's famous paper:
JT Stern & RL Susman 1983 The locomotor anatomy of A.afarensis.
Am.J.phys.Anthrop.60:279-317

Most of the listed features can be grouped in functionally related
adaptations.

For instance, the broad pelvis (unlike humans & apes) with the laterally
expanded alae, the long femoral necks, high bicondylar angle are - together
with the apelike small femoral heads & short femoral shafts - are the
expressions of the same adaptation: better abduction of the thighs (is seen
in some swimming mammals & seems to suggest that the australopiths not only
waded bipedally but also frequently swam - the same is true for the
australopith feet). These are certainly not adaptations for humanlike
bipedality: in that case the pelvis should have been narrower, the femoral
heads much larger, etc.

For a functional discussion of most of these anatomical features see my
work, eg,
1987. Vertonen de fossiele hominiden tekens van wateraanpassing? Marswin 8,
142-151.
1991. Aquatic ape theory and fossil hominids. Medical Hypotheses 35,
108-114.
1991. Aquatic features in fossil hominids? M. Roede ed. The Aquatic Ape:
Fact or Fiction? Souvenir, London, 75-112.
1997. In den Beginne was het Water. Nieuwste Inzichten in de Evolutie van de
Mens. Hadewijch, Antwerpen.

McHenry's list consists merely of 2 groups: primitive features of all
hominoids or hominids (sometimes more monkeylike), and typically
australopithecine features such as the very broad pelvises (broader than in
humans & apes).

Australopiths display a mosaic of monkeylike, apelike & humanlike features,
as could be expected in creatures that lived a few million years earlier
than humans & apes.
Most of the enumerated features are related to the locomotion & the
dentition, & all features perfectly fit my view of the australopithecines as
wading herbivores. See my previous messages to s.a.p.
This, as I repeatedly argued, is the ancestral condition for all hominids.
(hominids=African hominoids: australopithecines, gorillas, chimpanzees,
humans).
As both humans & African apes descend from more australopith ancestors, it's
only natural that many humanlike (though less than apelike) features can be
seen in the australopiths.


>Synapomorphies of Australopithecus and Homo:

Or what is traditionally called synapomorphies, if it's assumed that apes
represent the ancestral state. This of course is not true. Apes are highly
derived in many features, eg, the low number of vertebrae, the very long
ilia, the very long arms etc. are more derived than in humans &
australopiths. This has no meaning as for the relatedness of humans &
australopiths: both just display in these features the ancestral hominid or
hominoid situation (eg, number of vertebrae: +-7 in monkeys, +-5 in
australoptihs & humans, +-3 in apes).

>Five or six (Sts 14 and KNM-WT 15000) lumbar vertebrae.
>Lumbar lordosis and sacral retroflexion.
>Sacral ala laterally expanded.
>Sacroiliac and hip joints closely approximated.
>Pelvis with: mediolaterally expanded, superioinferiorly shortened, and
>anteriorly rotated iliac blades; robust anterior iliac spines;
>distinct sciatic notch; distinct iliopsoas grove; rugose and large
>area for sacrotuberous ligament; retroflexed auricular surface with
>extensive retroarticular area; robust posterior superior iliac spine;
>sigmoid curvature of the iliac crest; dorsoventrally thickened pubic
>symphysis; retroflexion of hamstring tuberosity; shortened iliac
>shank.
>Femoral neck long with human-like distribution of cortical and spongy
>bone.
>Distal femur with: high bicondylar angle, elliptical lateral condyle,
>deep patellar groove with high lateral lip.

Discussion of pelvis & thighs see above.
Related with bipedalism & perhaps swimming (thigh abduction, broad pelvis,
lumbar lordosis, see discussion in Verhaegen 1991, 1997)

>Tibia with straight shaft and distal articular surface perpendicular
>to the shaft axis.
>Calcaneus with: massive body, deep dorsoplantar dimension, ovoid
>transverse section, horizontally oriented sustentacular shelf.
>Proximal phalanges of the foot with dorsally oriented proximal
>articular surfaces.
>Metatarsals II-V with heads expanded superiorly.
>Robust metatarsal V with large tuberosity.
>Metatarsal I with robust triangular diaphysis and expanded head.

Flipperlike (long metatarsals & short digits) = swimming feet:
in sealions > humans > australopiths > Afr.apes
See discussion & figs.5.4 & 5.5 in Verhaegen 1991 &
figure in Verhaegen 1993 "Aquatic vs savanna..." Nutr.Health 9:165-191
Full plantigrady is seen, eg, in humans & Afr.apes & australopiths &
sealions.

>Univertebral articular pattern for the first rib.

Instead of bivert.articulation. Chimps are intermediary.
Discussed in Verhaegen 1991
(loose rib articulations are seen in most aquatic mammals)

>Proximal humerus with shallow bicipital groove.
>Distal humerus with: rounded lateral well of the olecranon fossa;
>gracile lateral epicondyle; moderate-sized and cranially facing medial
>epicondyle.
>Radiocarpal joint perpendicular to the shaft axis.
>Capitate with: proximodistally shortened axis; single and elongated
>facet for MC II; shallow excavations for MC III articulations.
>Metacarpals II-V relatively short.
>(McHenry 1991, 1994)

Primitive arm in australopiths, not yet knuckle-walking.
(first K-W features are seen in boisei arm bones)
Shoulder girdle very chimp-like, derived.

>Reduced canines and incisors.
>Tooth enamel thick.

Ancestral condition probably (Martin 1985)

>Foramen magnum positioned at or anterior to the bi-tympanic line.

More anterior for.magnum in bonobos & all premature apes.

>And in the case of robust australopithecines add:
>Pars petrosa ossis temporalis coronally oriented.
>Flexed cranial base.
>Vertically oriented mandibular symphysis.

Parallel adaptations: robusts lived at the same time as Homo!

>
>Refs:
>
>McHenry, H.M. 1991. First Steps? Analysis of the Postcranium of Early
>Hominids. In Coppens, Y. and Senut, B.(eds) 1991. Origine(s) de la
>Bipedie chez les Hominides. Paris: CNRS. pp. 133-141.
>
>McHenry, H.M. 1994. Early Hominid Postcrania: Phylogeny and Function.
>In Corrucini, R.S. and Ciochon, R.L.(eds) 1994. Integrative Paths to
>the Past. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. pp.251-268.


From my 1994 paper:

As we go further back in time, we may expect that human ancestors become
more chimpanzeelike, but also that the chimpanzees' ancestors become more
humanlike, ie, display a few humanlike features. Assuming that the LCA (last
common ancestor) looked much more like a chimp is statistically less likely
than assuming that the LCA already possessed a few mosaic humanlike features
(eg, facultative bipedality, orthognathism, thicker enamel) & that both
branches (Homo & Pan) underwent evol.changes towards their present-day
representants (eg, much longer legs in humans, longer arms in chimps). In
fact, it seems most economical to assume that the LCA 8-4 mya looked
somewhat like bonobos (or like subadult chimps), which are in several
instances - but not, eg, in body weight - intermediate between humans &
common chimps, eg, in rel.canine size, canine dimorphism, orthognathism,
foramen magnum indices, rel.arm & leg length, bipedalism & knuckle-walking.
Although the LCA lived earlier, the gracile australopiths of 3-2.5 mya
(Lucy, Sterkfontein) are the best approximation we presently have...
It seems that, while our ancestors were becoming more & more humanlike, the
Afr.apes - at first the ancestors of the gorillas & shortly thereafter that
of both chimpanzees - for unknown reasons (climatic & habitat changes?)
broke away from our evol.direction, partially reversed their evolution, &
became again - the 3 species to different degrees - more like monkeys in
thinner enamel, larger front teeth, prognathism, ectocranial crests,
rel.smaller endocast, more dorsal foramen magnum, elongated iliac blades,
short femoral necks, less valgus knees, more grasping feet, quadrupedalism
etc. (but not, eg, in body size, relative arm length, knuckle-walking,
pelvic height, number of lumbar, sacral & coccygal vertebrae).
There are admittedly several weak spots in the scenario: the many reversals
(notably in the lower limb anatomy) & parallelisms (eg, anterior dentition,
iliac anatomy, knuckle-walking adaptations) in the evolution of Gorilla &
Pan. (If Pongo is included in the comparison, even more - apparently
improbable - parallelisms are needed, although, as discussed above, for most
of these featues (eg, sexual dimorphism, foramen magnum position, rel.arm
length, foot shape), at least one Afr.ape species can be found to be more
different from orangs than from humans, & Andrews (1992), in a review of
Miocene hominoids, even asserts that "if Sivapith. belongs in the orangutan
clade, as I have argued, the shared [postcranial] morphology of the
orangutan & the Afr.apes must have arisen independently").
However, if these reversals & parallelisms are correlated (readaptations to,
eg, an older, less "innovating or less humanlike lifestyle or environment),
the counter-argument to my scenario fails. Moreover - the traditional
hypothesis - that all australopithecines are more closely related to humans
than to Afr.apes - seems to have more serious difficulties:...(see previous
messages to s.a.p: "absence" of fossil chimps & gorillas; australopith
features in premature apes (orthognath., for.magnum position, more humanlke
feet); absence of ext.nose, very large brain, very long legs in austral.;
general resemblance with apes; contemporanity of Austr. & Homo).

Conclusion

A review of the paleo-anthrop.literature reveals no data that exclude the
possibility that both gorillas & chimps could have had austral.ancestors.
Bipedalism is generally considered to be the shared features that links
austral. with humans, & there is no doubt that at least some of the austral.
species were partial bipeds. But it has never been proven that the Afr.apes'
unique locomotion (plantigrady & knuckle-walking) could not have evolved
from some kind of "short"-legged bipedalism. In fact... ontogenetic &
morphological evidence tends to favour the hypothesis that the LCA of Homo &
Pan 8-4 mya was a partially bipedal, gracile australopith, with chiefly a
mosaic of human & chimp (esp. bonobo) features: low sexual dimorphism,
minimal prognathism, slightly enlarged canines, non-protruding nasal
skeleton, smooth ectocranium without crests, "small" brain with apelike
sulcal pattern, re.non-flexed basicranium, intermediate position of
for.magnum, "short" forelimbs without knuckle-walking features, low ilia,
(very) long femoral necks, "short" legs, (very) valgus knees, full
plantigrady, longer & not very abductable halluces...

Gerrit Hanenburg

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May 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/26/98
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Marc Verhaegen <Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:

>Then again, is Hanenburg always so biased in his data?
>Why does he omit the even more numerous apelike features in the
>australopiths??

Because the issue was "I can't see anything typically human in
australopiths", remember?

>Most of the listed features can be grouped in functionally related
>adaptations.
>For instance, the broad pelvis (unlike humans & apes) with the laterally
>expanded alae, the long femoral necks, high bicondylar angle are - together
>with the apelike small femoral heads & short femoral shafts - are the
>expressions of the same adaptation: better abduction of the thighs (is seen
>in some swimming mammals & seems to suggest that the australopiths not only
>waded bipedally but also frequently swam - the same is true for the
>australopith feet). These are certainly not adaptations for humanlike
>bipedality: in that case the pelvis should have been narrower, the femoral
>heads much larger, etc.

These features function as a lateral balancing system. If you want
better abduction of the thigh you need something similar to Pongo
(shallow acetabulum, etc.)
There is no better explanation than that these features functioned in
balancing the torso over the hips during bipedalism.
There's no indication whatsoever that these features are aquatic
adaptations (though they do not prohibit wading).
Most mammals that enter the water use a modified form of terrestrial
gait (i.e. parasaggital paddling), without abduction of the thigh.
(Thewissen, J.G.M. & Fish, F.E.1997. Locomotor evolution in the
earliest cetaceans: functional model, modern analogues, and
paleontological evidence. Paleobiology 23: 482-490)

>>Synapomorphies of Australopithecus and Homo:

>Or what is traditionally called synapomorphies, if it's assumed that apes
>represent the ancestral state. This of course is not true.

Then, what method do you use to polarize the characters?
On the basis of outgroup comparison there's little doubt that large
projecting canines are plesiomorphic, as are small brains, long arms,
long ilia, absence of lumbar lordosis, etc.

>Flipperlike (long metatarsals & short digits) = swimming feet:
>in sealions > humans > australopiths > Afr.apes

Metatarsals and phalanges in humans and australopithecines relatively
shorter than in non-aquatic Afr.apes.

>Full plantigrady is seen, eg, in humans & Afr.apes & australopiths &
>sealions.

Yes, plantigrady was probably already present in the bear-like
terrestrial ancestor of Pinnipedimorpha and has nothing to do with
aquaticness.

>Univertebral articular pattern for the first rib.

>Instead of bivert.articulation. Chimps are intermediary.
>Discussed in Verhaegen 1991
>(loose rib articulations are seen in most aquatic mammals)

Whales have single-headed ribs, but this situation is not even
remotely present in hominins.

>Primitive arm in australopiths, not yet knuckle-walking.
>(first K-W features are seen in boisei arm bones)

And those incipient K-W features are?

>Shoulder girdle very chimp-like, derived.

With cranially oriented glenoid fossa?

>>Reduced canines and incisors.
>>Tooth enamel thick.

>Ancestral condition probably (Martin 1985)

Unlikely now that we know that the most basal hominin Ardipithecus
ramidus had also thin enamel.

>>And in the case of robust australopithecines add:
>>Pars petrosa ossis temporalis coronally oriented.
>>Flexed cranial base.
>>Vertically oriented mandibular symphysis.

>Parallel adaptations: robusts lived at the same time as Homo!

Contemporaneous existence of taxa is not a criterium for parallelism.
Parallelism is found when a character is derived more than once in a
cladogram.
The above features could have been present in the LCA of
Homo+Paranthropus (Skelton, R.L.& McHenry, H.M. 1992. Evolutionary
relationships among early hominids. J.of Human Evol. 23: 309-349)

Gerrit

Paul Crowley

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May 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/26/98
to

On Sun, 24 May 1998 10:44:44 +0200, "Marc Verhaegen"
<Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:

>Most australoptihs had short canines.

All australopiths had small canines.

>Bonobos have +- short canines. See below.

I can find no confirmation of this. The difference with ordinary
chimps can only be slight.

>Early & gracile australopiths lived in forested areas, esp. gallery woods...
>Robusts lived in more open landscapes, not withouth trees, in marshlands...

You repeat this like a mantra. There is little or no good
evidence for this sort of thing. Hominids (normal definition)
could walk and their fossils may be found a long way from their
habitat, especially if their normal habitat was not suitable for
fossilization.

>Apes need their large canines for opening fruits... The males also for
>intraspecific use.

The opening fruit use for large canines is fairly minor. All
primates, other than us, have large canines. Many have little
dietary application (e.g. male gorillas or male gibbons). Their
use in discouraging predators, especially for males, is probably
their most important value.

>Australopiths had a more herbivorous, less frugivorous diet than most
>present-day apes, so long canines were a handicap.

Firstly, you've no real evidence for a more herbivorous diet.
Secondly, it would hardly be more herbivorous that of the gorilla
and they have very large canines. Thirdly, there is no clear way
that a animal with large canines could adapt to diet that
required a horizontal (cow-like) motion of the jaws. That motion
only becomes possible once the large canines have gone; so there
is no mechanism that could enable a gradual reduction.
Fourthly, once an animal had adapted to such a diet, there is no
way that large canines could come back (as you assert vis-a-vis
gorillas). Fifthly, you can point to no parallels among any
other large-bodied (or even small-bodied) mammalian taxa of such
rapid changes in diet and morphology.

>> They'd have had to stand still
>>in a group, using stones and clubs to keep the predators (or
>>enemy hominids) at bay.
>
>Rather improbable for Austr. (You're perhaps describing H.erectus?)

Why improbable for the australopiths? Chimps are nearly there;
it is not IMO at all hard to see a chimp population that moved to
more open ground adopting such habits.

>Leopards were the most dangerous. The smaller austr. could flee into the
>trees or into the water,

The water would almost invariably have crocodiles. And leopards
do the predation on baboons in_the_trees at at night.
Australopiths in trees would be much more vulnerable than
baboons.

>You must compare Lucy's locomotion to that of proboscis monkeys, somewhat
>less arboreal, somewhat more bipedal wading & swimming. I don't see problems
>for her children, they could grasp her hairs.

At some point hominid females went fully bipedal. At some point
hominid infants stopped hanging on like other primate infants.
Until you've sorted out exactly how both happened, you've got
nowhere in human evolution.


>(There is no "primate locomotion". Primates are very diverse.)

The is a near-universal one for infants -- on their mother's
bellies or, occasionally, their backs.

>Large infants could run or walk or, if necessary, easily sit on their
>mother's back, whether she was bi-, tri- or quadrupedal.

How can an infant sit on a vertical back? It could sit on the
adult's shoulders, but I don't think anyone would claim that that
was a normal system.

>Difficult to say which carrying position was commonest for the
>small infants, but there were a lot of possibilites.
>Australopiths had a unique lifestyle (studies of CE
>Oxnard).

All species have a unique lifestyle. Your claim that it was
"more unique" has no real evidence. However there are only two
ways that primate mothers have solved the infant-carrying problem
(a) the human one -- for most of the time they leave it down and
(b) all other primates -- they carry it around for every minute
of every day, which is possible because it sticks like a bug.

>Chimp mothers with small infants often walk on three
>legs, holding the baby with one arm.

This is correct for new-borns or sick infants; but it is not the
normal system. Chimps mothers need both hands free to climb,
run, forage or protect themselves.

>They did not have to travel far. Just a few (deci)metres to get
>the next food item.

This is nonsense (if imaginative nonsense). What other large
animals (let alone primates) are in this fortunate position?
Perhaps the sloth. While the australopiths were clearly not
great at getting around, there would have been some selection for
travelling capacity. You can't hypothesize a "sloth-niche"
simply to suit an argument.

>I think you have to see more wildlife films of apes.

I record loads and study them carefully. (There's progamme on
proboscis monkeys on BBC2 tomorrow (Wednesday 27th 14:45) if you
get that channel).

>(Hominids are: australopiths, chimps, gorillas, humans - see molec.data &
>see below.

If you are going to define common words in your own peculiar way,
no one will have any idea what you are talking about.

>Both australopiths & extinct Homo lived at the edge between land & water. If
>the danger came from the land, they fleed to the water (or trees in the case
>of the australopiths), etc. Homo probably used stones or clubs,
>australopiths rarely.

Large cats are not afraid of water; many can climb trees. Quite
apart from the baby-carrying problem, the australopiths would be
much slower at running, climbing, and probably swimming than
baboons. The problem of predation has to be taken seriously.

>Australopiths (group animal) escaped predators +- like tapirs or capybaras
>or proboscis monkeys do: running to the land or to the water or to the
>trees, according to where the danger comes from. The biggest problem is
>spotting the enemy before he's too near.

Spotting the enemy at a distance is only useful if you're faster
than him or have a close refuge. Australopiths would have been
impossibly slow (especially females with infants) and had few
refuges.

>(Stones & clubs must be carried. Apes & monkeys can handle clubs, but prefer
>not to use them frequently.)

I accept that stones and clubs must be carried. This would have
been a very important motivation for bipedalism. Although I
doubt if the australopiths travelled much. It could well have
been the development by the Homo line of a capacity to carry
things (like clubs, stones, food) by, say, using animal skins
that enabled them to travel more effectively. Only then would
they have acquired the longer legs and more efficient stride.

>>The loss of large canines was a remarkable development.
>
>Not for herbivores!

How does a animal with large canines switch to a herbivorous
diet? Can you show such a change elsewhere in nature? (The
answer here is "Of course, not.)

>We see a relative canine reduction from graciles to
>robusts, just as expected from their diet. I can't see any problem for
>explaining the australopith canines.

(a) Just another unique event in evolution which only happens in
the hominid (usual sense) line. (b) No possible way it could
happen (c) leaves no defence equipment.

>> It is up to
>>you to come up with your own reasons for your proposed loss and
>>re-acquisition of large canines.
>
>No loss & re-acquisition (eg, oscilations of larger & smaller beaks in

>Galāpagos finches according to the wetness or dryness of the previous


>seasons), but strong overlap between apes/australopiths/Homo:

Gradually expanding or reducing beak size is a very different
operation from losing a feature that has been universal among
primates for at least 60 Myr. Natural variation in beak size can
readily be observed in any birds. Natural selection can make the
average size larger or smaller. That is easy to see. But for
all primates (other than us) losing their large canines would be
like losing their legs. They would lose their whole defence
function. It would mean near-instant death. It just couldn't
happen.

>- in gorillas & chimps "with advancing age, canines thend to wear flat to
>the level of the incisors"

You show quotes. What is your source here? This is very much
contrary to my understanding. I strongly doubt if male canines
wear down. Old chimp males often lose them, but they are far too
large to be worn down to molar level.

>& bonbos "have rel.smal & only slightly projecting canine teeth"

What is your source for this? Does it apply to males?


>>It is parsimonious to keep them to the smallest possible number.
>
>Evolution is gradual: no niche-swapping, but diet-overlapping & gradual
>shift.


>Burial?? dogs??

These were argued here in some rather long threads.


>>Then you are not sensitive to the concept of niche. Blue tits.
>>coal tits, great tits, long-tailed tits, etc., occupy related
>>niches but have kept their identity for millions of generations.
>
>Not millions (is it 10 mya that they all split apart??).

A generation in those birds is unlikely to be more than 3 years
and I'd guess they've been apart getting on for 10 Myr. I've
seen dna analyses of warblers indicating about 5 Myr separations.


>Evolution exists, you know. It's usu. slow (oscillating = slow on the long
>run), but when the environment changes (island colonisation, climatic
>changes...) it can be "very fast".

Exactly. But you use the slow "drift" notion for all your niche-
changes. I get the impression that you see a population about
the former size of bonobos gradually shifting from a frugivous to
a herbivorous diet. That, in my view, is impossible. The
environment did not change that much. If there was a viable
frugivorous niche, it won't go away. The only way I see that is
possible, in the very tight timescale we are allowed, is for a
small isolated population to find a whole new way of life, and
change radically. This IS possible and has been known to happen
thousands of times (e.g. Darwin's finches, fruit flies on Hawaii,
cichlid fish in Lake Victoria). This new species will then
expand back to its parent species's territory and IF its_niche_
_overlaps_with its parent and IF it has major advantages, it may
wipe it out. Since both of these conditions are unlikely, the
parent species will normally continue to exist. But none of your
hypothetical parent species exist.

Paul.

Jim McGinn

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May 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/26/98
to

Marc Verhaegen wrote in message <6k8msv$ep3$1...@xenon.inbe.net>...


>
>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht
><356771e4...@news.indigo.ie>...

>>On Thu, 21 May 1998 19:45:20 -0700, "Norman K. McPhail"
>><no...@socal.wanet.com> wrote:
>
>>Whenever you find yourself describing human evolution in terms
>>that you would never apply to other species, then you're
>>probably off the rails -- and certainly if the matter precedes
>>language.
>

>Beautifully said!
>(On what has been said above I mostly agree with Norman.)
>
>...
<snip>

This is simply wrong. If anything is clear about human evolution its that
it cannot be explained in terms that would apply to other species. This is
especially obvious with respect to the the rate of human evolution and with
respect to the fact that fossil evidence of human evolution does not conform
to the species-habitat-niche-stasis constraints that all other species are
subject to.

Paul, to support this supposition I'm going to use your own words:
Paul Crowley wrote in message Re: littoral Ape Theory, on Monday May 25,
1998


Firstly, the number of genuses and species among hominids is
unquestionably too high -- by comparison with other taxa. Too
many discoverers of new fossils want to make them a new species.
Secondly, the speed of change among hominids IS remarkably rapid,
and needs its own explanation. <snip> These
provided many opportunities for quasi-speciation among isolated
populations . . . <snip>

In my opinion these statements above show an advanced understanding of what
a true dillema the problem of human evolution really is. It is unique,
distinct, not like that of the other species. Anybody who doesn't
understand this must be, to some degree, largely ignorant of paleontology as
it applies to niches and stasis etc.

The trick to understanding human evolution is to understand why it is off
the rails.

Jim

Marc Verhaegen

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May 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/27/98
to

Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht <356ac93...@news.indigo.ie>...


><Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:
>
>>Early & gracile australopiths lived in forested areas, esp. gallery
woods...
>>Robusts lived in more open landscapes, not withouth trees, in
marshlands...

>You repeat this like a mantra.

Because you are deaf.

> There is little or no good evidence for this sort of thing.

There is rather good evidence:

Early, gracile:

? Ardipithecus ramidus: ‘Sedimentological, botanical and faunal evidence
suggests a wooded habitat for the Aramis hominids’ (WoldeGabriel et al.,
1994).
? Kanapoi KNM-KP 29281 Australopithecus anamensis: ‘A wide gallery forest
would have almost certainly been present on the large river that brought in
the sediments’ (Leakey et al., 1995).
? Hadar AL.333 A. afarensis: ‘The bones were found in swale-like features
[…] it is very likely that they died and partially rotted at or very near
this site […] this group of hominids was buried in streamside gallery
woodland’ (Radosevich et al., 1992).
? Makapan A. africanus: ‘[…] very different conditions from those prevailing
today. Higher rainfall, fertile, alkaline soils and moderate relief
supported significant patches of sub-tropical forest and thick bush, rather
than savannah. Taphonomic considerations […] suggest that sub-tropical
forest was the hominins’ preferred habitat rather than grassland or
bushveld, and the adaptations of these animals was therefore fitted to a
forest habitat’ (Rayner et al., 1993).
? Taung australopithecine: ‘the clayey matrix from which the Taung cranium
was extracted, and the frequent occurrence of calcite veins and void
fillings within it (Butzer 1974, 1980) do suggest a more humid environment
during its accumulation’ (Partridge, 1985).

Robusts:

? Lake Turkana: ‘The lake margins were generally swampy, with extensive
areas of mudflats […] Australopithecus boisei was more abundant in fluvial
environments, whereas Homo habilis was rare in such environments […]
Australopithecus fossils are more common than Homo both in channel and
floodplain deposits. The gracile hominids […] seem to be more restricted
ecologically to the lake margin than are the robust forms’ (Conroy, 1990).
? Ileret A. boisei: ‘the fossil sample reflects climatic and ecological
environmental conditions differing significantly from those of the present
day. At Ilerat, 1.5 Myr ago, climatic conditions must have been cooler and
more humid than today, and more favourable to extensive forests […] The
prominence of montane forest is particularly striking […] dominated by
Gramineae and Chenopodiaceae appropriate to the margins of a slightly saline
or alkaline lake’ (Bonnefille, 1976).
? Chesowanja A. boisei: ‘The fossiliferous sediments were deposited in a
lagoon […] Abundant root casts […] suggest that the embayment was flanked by
reeds and the presence of calcareous algae indicates that the lagoon was
warm and shallow... relatively stagnant water’ (Carney et al., 1971).
? Olduvai Bed I: A. boisei O.H.5 as well as A. or H. habilis O.H.7 and
O.H.62 were found in the most densely vegetated, wettest condition, with the
highest lake levels (Walter et al., 1991). ‘Fossilized leaves and pollen are
rare in the sediments of Beds I and II, but swamp vegetation is indicated by
abundant vertical roots channels and casts possibly made by some kind of
reed. Fossil rhizomes of papyrus also suggest the presence of marshland
and/or shallow water’ (Conroy, 1990). ‘Cyperaceae fruits were common in H.
habilis habitat (Bonnefille, 1984).

> Hominids (normal definition)
>could walk and their fossils may be found a long way from their
>habitat, especially if their normal habitat was not suitable for
>fossilization.

???
Why do you think the australopith habitat was not suitable for
fossilisation?

>>Apes need their large canines for opening fruits... The males also for
>>intraspecific use.
>
>The opening fruit use for large canines is fairly minor.

Nonsense, the dietary use for canines is the canine size you see in females
(opening fruits, eating bark from trees...

> All primates, other than us, have large canines. Many have little
>dietary application (e.g. male gorillas or male gibbons).

Nonsense.

> Their use in discouraging predators, especially for males, is probably
>their most important value.

Not impossible for the males.

>>Australopiths had a more herbivorous, less frugivorous diet than most
>>present-day apes, so long canines were a handicap.

>Firstly, you've no real evidence for a more herbivorous diet.

Plenty of evidence: short canines, broad pre/molars cf. pandas, microwear...

>Secondly, it would hardly be more herbivorous that of the gorilla
>and they have very large canines.

Robusts no doubt more herbivorous (sedges, reed, see microwear) than
gorillas.
Even some deer have long canines.
Gorilla still partly frugivorous.

> Thirdly, there is no clear way
>that a animal with large canines could adapt to diet that
>required a horizontal (cow-like) motion of the jaws. That motion
>only becomes possible once the large canines have gone; so there
>is no mechanism that could enable a gradual reduction.

No. Simplification.

>Fourthly, once an animal had adapted to such a diet, there is no
>way that large canines could come back (as you assert vis-a-vis
>gorillas).

Why not? The canines were "small", but did not disappear.
(I didn't assert, but I do think it possible that gorillas have regrown
larger canines.)

>Fifthly, you can point to no parallels among any
>other large-bodied (or even small-bodied) mammalian taxa of such
>rapid changes in diet and morphology.

Rapid?? See previous messages.

>>> They'd have had to stand still
>>>in a group, using stones and clubs to keep the predators (or
>>>enemy hominids) at bay.

Do tapirs use clubs to keep predators or enemy tapirs at bay?

>>Rather improbable for Austr. (You're perhaps describing H.erectus?)

>Why improbable for the australopiths? Chimps are nearly there;
>it is not IMO at all hard to see a chimp population that moved to
>more open ground adopting such habits.

The hominid physiology is not suited for open & dry milieus.
Australopiths have dental adaptations for aquatic plants (microwear, see PF
Puech)

>>Leopards were the most dangerous. The smaller austr. could flee into the
>>trees or into the water,

>The water would almost invariably have crocodiles. And leopards

>do the predation on baboons in_the_trees at night.

Crocodiles & leopards don't cooperate. Australopiths had more options to
flee (water/trees) than baboons.

>Australopiths in trees would be much more vulnerable than baboons.

Why??
(and A.boisei males were 3-4 times as large as baboons)

>>You must compare Lucy's locomotion to that of proboscis monkeys, somewhat
>>less arboreal, somewhat more bipedal wading & swimming. I don't see
problems
>>for her children, they could grasp her hairs.

>At some point hominid females went fully bipedal.

Fully bipedal only "recently" in H.sapiens: correlation with basicranial
flexion, eyes underneath brain instead of in front of it, very ventral
foramen magnum (sapiens>neande.>erectus). These are adaptations to make the
eyes look forward or at the ground (wading, beach-combing, walking?) in a
completely bipedal animal. H.erectus' eyes were directed more cranially (to
look at the sky in a fully bipedal creature???)
If our full bipedality was ancient, human infants would have walked much
earlier (zebra & wildebeest babies run from birth).

>At some point
>hominid infants stopped hanging on like other primate infants.
>Until you've sorted out exactly how both happened, you've got
>nowhere in human evolution.

Exactly? Nowhere?? Why?
(& can't you read? It was no problem in the water (cf. diving Fuegian women)

>>(There is no "primate locomotion". Primates are very diverse.)
>
>The is a near-universal one for infants -- on their mother's
>bellies or, occasionally, their backs.

>>Large infants could run or walk or, if necessary, easily sit on their
>>mother's back, whether she was bi-, tri- or quadrupedal.

>How can an infant sit on a vertical back? It could sit on the
>adult's shoulders, but I don't think anyone would claim that that
>was a normal system.

>>Difficult to say which carrying position was commonest for the
>>small infants, but there were a lot of possibilites.
>>Australopiths had a unique lifestyle (studies of CE
>>Oxnard).
>
>All species have a unique lifestyle. Your claim that it was
>"more unique" has no real evidence.

No. See Oxnard's studies (limb proportions etc.): australopith locomotion
was different from humans & different from apes.
(IMO frequently wading, perhaps also frequently swimming but not diving,
graciles still frequently climbing)

> However there are only two
>ways that primate mothers have solved the infant-carrying problem
>(a) the human one -- for most of the time they leave it down

The human way (bipedal carrying in one arm or leaving it down) is derived
from wading or diving ancestors (cf. Fuegian women) that come to live more
on the land.

>(b) all other primates -- they carry it around for every minute
>of every day, which is possible because it sticks like a bug.

No problem

>>Chimp mothers with small infants often walk on three
>>legs, holding the baby with one arm.
>
>This is correct for new-borns or sick infants; but it is not the
>normal system. Chimps mothers need both hands free to climb,
>run, forage or protect themselves.
>
>>They did not have to travel far. Just a few (deci)metres to get
>>the next food item.
>
>This is nonsense (if imaginative nonsense).

No nonsense. See gorillas feeding in swamps or in vegetation.

> What other large
>animals (let alone primates) are in this fortunate position?

Gorilla, bamboo bear...

>Perhaps the sloth. While the australopiths were clearly not
>great at getting around, there would have been some selection for
>travelling capacity. You can't hypothesize a "sloth-niche"
>simply to suit an argument.

???

>>I think you have to see more wildlife films of apes.
>
>I record loads and study them carefully. (There's progamme on
>proboscis monkeys on BBC2 tomorrow (Wednesday 27th 14:45) if you
>get that channel).

Thanks

>>(Hominids are: australopiths, chimps, gorillas, humans - see molec.data &
>>see below.
>
>If you are going to define common words in your own peculiar way,
>no one will have any idea what you are talking about.

Not my words: molec.biologists. Calling australopiths & humans hominid, and
chimps & gorillas not-hominid, is nonsense. See splitting times.

>>Both australopiths & extinct Homo lived at the edge between land & water.
If
>>the danger came from the land, they fleed to the water (or trees in the
case
>>of the australopiths), etc. Homo probably used stones or clubs,
>>australopiths rarely.
>
>Large cats are not afraid of water; many can climb trees. Quite
>apart from the baby-carrying problem, the australopiths would be
>much slower at running, climbing, and probably swimming than
>baboons. The problem of predation has to be taken seriously.

They were faster & more agile than leopards in swimming & climbing.

>>Australopiths (group animal) escaped predators +- like tapirs or capybaras
>>or proboscis monkeys do: running to the land or to the water or to the
>>trees, according to where the danger comes from. The biggest problem is
>>spotting the enemy before he's too near.
>
>Spotting the enemy at a distance is only useful if you're faster
>than him or have a close refuge. Australopiths would have been
>impossibly slow (especially females with infants) and had few
>refuges.

See above.
The graciles were not slow, & probably agile in the trees. The robusts
(males) were huge animals.
Do you know how gorillas keep off leopards etc.? Males defending the group?

>>(Stones & clubs must be carried. Apes & monkeys can handle clubs, but
prefer
>>not to use them frequently.)

>I accept that stones and clubs must be carried. This would have
>been a very important motivation for bipedalism.

It's the other way round of course: carrying a club was possible because
Homo was bipedal. And he was bipedal because his diving/wading past had
forced him into this (slow & costly) posture.

> Although I
>doubt if the australopiths travelled much. It could well have
>been the development by the Homo line of a capacity to carry
>things (like clubs, stones, food) by, say, using animal skins
>that enabled them to travel more effectively. Only then would
>they have acquired the longer legs and more efficient stride.

Very "recently" see above

>>>The loss of large canines was a remarkable development.
>>
>>Not for herbivores!
>
>How does a animal with large canines switch to a herbivorous
>diet?

What animal do you mean?
(Australopiths show all lengths of canines from as long as an incisor to
almost twice as long, but canines were never lost.)

> Can you show such a change elsewhere in nature? (The
>answer here is "Of course, not.)

See tragulids & cervids, eg.

>>We see a relative canine reduction from graciles to
>>robusts, just as expected from their diet. I can't see any problem for
>>explaining the australopith canines.
>
>(a) Just another unique event in evolution which only happens in
>the hominid (usual sense) line.

Unique??? See tragulids & cervid

>(b) No possible way it could
>happen (c) leaves no defence equipment.


See above

>>> It is up to
>>>you to come up with your own reasons for your proposed loss and
>>>re-acquisition of large canines.

Diet! see above. Teeth are used for eating, you know.

>>No loss & re-acquisition (eg, oscilations of larger & smaller beaks in

>>Galŕpagos finches according to the wetness or dryness of the previous


>>seasons), but strong overlap between apes/australopiths/Homo:
>
>Gradually expanding or reducing beak size is a very different
>operation from losing a feature that has been universal among
>primates for at least 60 Myr.

Not losing at all.

> Natural variation in beak size can
>readily be observed in any birds. Natural selection can make the
>average size larger or smaller. That is easy to see. But for
>all primates (other than us) losing their large canines would be
>like losing their legs. They would lose their whole defence
>function. It would mean near-instant death. It just couldn't
>happen.

Not losing.
For a discussion of canine size & variation & evolution in hominids, see
Verhaegen 1994 Hum.Evol.9:121

>>- in gorillas & chimps "with advancing age, canines thend to wear flat to
>>the level of the incisors"
>
>You show quotes. What is your source here?

Ryan & Johanson 1989 JHE 18:235
(refs in my paper above)

> This is very much
>contrary to my understanding. I strongly doubt if male canines
>wear down. Old chimp males often lose them, but they are far too
>large to be worn down to molar level.

Keep doubting

>>& bonobos "have rel.smal & only slightly projecting canine teeth"


>
>What is your source for this? Does it apply to males?

Zihlman etc.1978 Nat.275:744


>>Evolution is gradual: no niche-swapping, but diet-overlapping & gradual
shift.
>
>
>>Burial?? dogs??
>
>These were argued here in some rather long threads.

Burial in Neandertals & sapiens, certainly not in australopiths.

Dogs +- 100,000 years.

>>Evolution exists, you know. It's usu. slow (oscillating = slow on the long
>>run), but when the environment changes (island colonisation, climatic
>>changes...) it can be "very fast".
>
>Exactly. But you use the slow "drift" notion for all your niche-changes.

???
I use the gradual model for all my adaptations.
(In fact I didn't "use", it just came automatically, the more information I
had)

> I get the impression that you see a population about
>the former size of bonobos gradually shifting from a frugivous to

>a herbivorous diet.. That, in my view, is impossible.

In your view

>The environment did not change that much.

Does the environment change if you start from the coast & colonise upstream
milieus?
(coast = more shellfish, upstream = more plants, I guess)

> If there was a viable
>frugivorous niche, it won't go away. The only way I see that is
>possible, in the very tight timescale we are allowed

3 times 4-8 my = 'tight' ?
(3 times: Pan, Homo, Gorilla)

>, is for a
>small isolated population to find a whole new way of life, and
>change radically. This IS possible and has been known to happen
>thousands of times (e.g. Darwin's finches, fruit flies on Hawaii,
>cichlid fish in Lake Victoria). This new species will then
>expand back to its parent species's territory and IF its_niche_
>_overlaps_with its parent and IF it has major advantages, it may
>wipe it out. Since both of these conditions are unlikely, the
>parent species will normally continue to exist. But none of your
>hypothetical parent species exist.

Perhaps we should see the "stock" population along the shores of the whole
Indian Ocean, Red Sea etc. & giving offshoots along the rivers inland. Such
geograph.linear species "must" speciate.

Marc

Marc Verhaegen

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May 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/27/98
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Jim McGinn heeft geschreven in bericht <#UZKsEQi9GA.179@uppubnews03>...


>
>Marc Verhaegen wrote in message <6k8msv$ep3$1...@xenon.inbe.net>...
>>

>>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht

>><356771e4...@news.indigo.ie>...


>>>On Thu, 21 May 1998 19:45:20 -0700, "Norman K. McPhail"
>>><no...@socal.wanet.com> wrote:
>>
>>>Whenever you find yourself describing human evolution in terms
>>>that you would never apply to other species, then you're
>>>probably off the rails -- and certainly if the matter precedes
>>>language.
>>

>>Beautifully said!

>The trick to understanding human evolution is to understand why it is off
the rails.


It's not off the rails, perhaps the human train has taken a special
direction, but it's still on the rails.
The comparative method is the only safe method for solving evolutionary
puzzles.

For instance, Roger Crinion, a correspondent of Elaine Morgan, seems to have
solved the problem of laryngeal descent by comparing the human mounth &
throat with all sorts of mammals (carnivores, bovids, cetaceans, pinnipeds,
bats, primates..).
Humans differ from chimps in having smaller mouth, rounder toungue, vaulted
palate, less palatal ridges, & descended larynx. All these features in
mammals are correlated with suction feeding (of grubs, fruits, molluscs).
Probably the descended larynx created a lower pressure in the mouth cavity
for stronger suction.

Marc

Jim McGinn

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May 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/27/98
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Marc Verhaegen wrote in message <6khol9$ao7$1...@xenon.inbe.net>...


>
>Jim McGinn heeft geschreven in bericht <#UZKsEQi9GA.179@uppubnews03>...
>>
>>Marc Verhaegen wrote in message <6k8msv$ep3$1...@xenon.inbe.net>...
>>>
>>>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht
>>><356771e4...@news.indigo.ie>...

>>>>On Thu, 21 May 1998 19:45:20 -0700, "Norman K. McPhail"
>>>><no...@socal.wanet.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>>Whenever you find yourself describing human evolution in terms
>>>>that you would never apply to other species, then you're
>>>>probably off the rails -- and certainly if the matter precedes
>>>>language.
>>>

>>>Beautifully said!
>
>>The trick to understanding human evolution is to understand why it is off
>the rails.
>
>
>It's not off the rails, perhaps the human train has taken a special
>direction, but it's still on the rails.
>The comparative method is the only safe method for solving evolutionary
>puzzles.
>
>For instance, Roger Crinion, a correspondent of Elaine Morgan, seems to
have
>solved the problem of laryngeal descent by comparing the human mounth &
>throat with all sorts of mammals (carnivores, bovids, cetaceans, pinnipeds,
>bats, primates..).
>Humans differ from chimps in having smaller mouth, rounder toungue, vaulted
>palate, less palatal ridges, & descended larynx. All these features in
>mammals are correlated with suction feeding (of grubs, fruits, molluscs).
>Probably the descended larynx created a lower pressure in the mouth cavity
>for stronger suction.
>
>Marc
>
>

In any kind of a unique species, a species that takes a new and uncharted
course as obviously the human species has done when it--due to some yet
unexplained causal factors--broke out of the constraints of being a niche
specific species, we should expect that the evolution of new traits will
tend to draw from the species historical phylogeny. In other words, humans,
being mammals will tend to find new strategies from the same genetic bag of
tricks that any and all mammals draw from. Consequently it is hardly a
surprize that we see similarity in the strategies of humans to other
mammals. In fact it would be surprizing if we did not.

My general impression of the proponents of AAT (as well as SAT) is that they
(you) would do well to get a better understanding of more of the
paleontological tradition as it applies to niches, stasis, and phylogeny.

As I see it AAT is off on a tangent. The comparative method that you
espouse is bound to give you a false sense of success. Worst of all it is
this kind of thinking that has caused us to gloss over what I think is the
most important clue to human evolution, that being the how and why the
humans species (at some point 4 to 5 million years ago) broke out of the
constraints of being a niche specific species.

Paul Crowley

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May 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/27/98
to

On Tue, 26 May 1998 16:52:51 -0700, "Jim McGinn"
<jimm...@msn.com> wrote:

>>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht

>>>Whenever you find yourself describing human evolution in terms
>>>that you would never apply to other species, then you're
>>>probably off the rails -- and certainly if the matter precedes
>>>language.

>This is simply wrong. If anything is clear about human evolution its that


>it cannot be explained in terms that would apply to other species.

You're missing the context in which I used "terms you would never
apply to other species". Take a look at Norman McPhail's site:
http://204.94.86.93
and you'll see all sorts of talk about "heroes" and such-like.
Seeing hominids as supermen, talking about "supreme opportunists"
or "great generalists" is usually IMO an easy way to avoid
thought. There is an enormous amount of populist junk like this
around. Worse, many of these ideas infect stuff that claims to
be serious.

>This is especially obvious with respect to the the rate of
>human evolution

Human evolution appears to run at a faster rate; while the
phenenon needs explanation, it doesn't put hominids into a
special category.

>and with respect to the fact that fossil evidence of human
>evolution does not conform to the species-habitat-niche-
>stasis constraints that all other species are subject to.

There are two possibilities here (a) the data is misleading, or
(b) hominids really can swap niches.

The first is IMO much more likely. The strange habitats that
hominids are supposed to have occupied are all dated to before
about 1.5 mya. In spite of remarkable advances in technology and
(presumably) language after that, there are no such habitats
until within the last 10 Kyr when highly sophisticated technology
arrives. And even then hominids weren't able to get into the
savanna, where they are supposed to have evolved.

>The trick to understanding human evolution is to understand why it is off
>the rails.

The first step is assume hominids work within the same parameters
and only when there are definitely no answers there consider
possibly moving outside them.

Paul.

Norman K. McPhail

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May 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/27/98
to

Jim McGinn wrote:
>
> Marc Verhaegen wrote in message <6khol9$ao7$1...@xenon.inbe.net>...
> >
> >Jim McGinn heeft geschreven in bericht <#UZKsEQi9GA.179@uppubnews03>...
> >>
> >>Marc Verhaegen wrote in message <6k8msv$ep3$1...@xenon.inbe.net>...
> >>>
> >>>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht
> >>><356771e4...@news.indigo.ie>...

> >>>>On Thu, 21 May 1998 19:45:20 -0700, "Norman K. McPhail"
> >>>><no...@socal.wanet.com> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>>Whenever you find yourself describing human evolution in terms
> >>>>that you would never apply to other species, then you're
> >>>>probably off the rails -- and certainly if the matter precedes
> >>>>language.
> >>>
> >>>Beautifully said!

> >
> >>The trick to understanding human evolution is to understand why it is off
> >the rails.
> >
> >
> >It's not off the rails, perhaps the human train has taken a special
> >direction, but it's still on the rails.
> >The comparative method is the only safe method for solving evolutionary
> >puzzles.
> >
[snip]

> >
> >Marc
> >
> >
>
> In any kind of a unique species, a species that takes a new and uncharted
> course as obviously the human species has done when it--due to some yet
> unexplained causal factors--broke out of the constraints of being a niche
> specific species, we should expect that the evolution of new traits will
> tend to draw from the species historical phylogeny. In other words, humans,
> being mammals will tend to find new strategies from the same genetic bag of
> tricks that any and all mammals draw from. Consequently it is hardly a
> surprize that we see similarity in the strategies of humans to other
> mammals. In fact it would be surprizing if we did not.
>
> My general impression of the proponents of AAT (as well as SAT) is that they
> (you) would do well to get a better understanding of more of the
> paleontological tradition as it applies to niches, stasis, and phylogeny.
>
> As I see it AAT is off on a tangent. The comparative method that you
> espouse is bound to give you a false sense of success. Worst of all it is
> this kind of thinking that has caused us to gloss over what I think is the
> most important clue to human evolution, that being the how and why the
> humans species (at some point 4 to 5 million years ago) broke out of the
> constraints of being a niche specific species.

Jim:

Bill Calvin does a fair job of explaining how our forebears may have
gained some of these new emerging properties. This is what has always
made the most sense to me. I have no trouble at all in understanding
how we can be both the same as all the other life forms out there and
differ from them at the same time. Why can't we have some emergent
properties? Why this is such a problem for some people is beyond me?

I also don't understand why they get so excited about the
self-organizing process. The examples of how emerging properties
self-organize can be seen in quantum physics, chemistry, organic
chemistry, molecular biology and astro physics. Self-organizing systems
are the rule not the exception. How else can we explain the emergence
of things like atoms, molecules, single cell life, multi cell life and
sexual reproduction? So why can't what I like to call human
understanding be an emergent property?

They can call it nonsense, off the rails, and any other names they want.
The name calling and adversarial attitude can't change the way things
are. No matter what any of us do or say, we can't make human
understanding and human biology identical. Besides, why would anyone
want to claim that our understanding is a form of life? What sense does
that make?

It seems obvious to me that human understanding is an emergent property.
How can it be anything but a different property. We don't see it any
where else in nature. In fact, our own understanding is so amazing and
mysterious that we are just beginning to understand it.

Human understanding comes through life. So it is not other than
physics, biology, ecology and the complex processes of evolution. Yet
human understanding is also different and more than any of these
things.

It is not of the same logical type as life. Who can't see that our
understanding is as different from life as life is from the lifeless
realm of physics?

I don't think there would be many who would try to argue that life
doesn't come through and differ from the lifeless realms of quantum and
macro physics. Even if we could fully explain the phenomenon of life
with some theory or law of physics, what sense would it make to say that
life isn't also an emergent property that differs from physics in many
ways and qualities.

Thus, I think that human understanding is of a different logical type
from life. You seem to be at least heading in this direction.

Norm McPhail

Norman K. McPhail

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May 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/27/98
to

Paul Crowley wrote:
>
> On Tue, 26 May 1998 16:52:51 -0700, "Jim McGinn"
> <jimm...@msn.com> wrote:
>
> >>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht

>

> You're missing the context in which I used "terms you would never
> apply to other species". Take a look at Norman McPhail's site:
> http://204.94.86.93
> and you'll see all sorts of talk about "heroes" and such-like.
> Seeing hominids as supermen, talking about "supreme opportunists"
> or "great generalists" is usually IMO an easy way to avoid
> thought. There is an enormous amount of populist junk like this
> around. Worse, many of these ideas infect stuff that claims to
> be serious.
>

Paul spent about three minutes scanning through a few pages posting
ratings for parts he didn't even read. He has no clue about what the
site is about and what the full content is like. His distortions are
about as accurate as most of the postings I've seen him make to this ng.

The site contains a treatment for a 33 part documentary TV series. It
is not an academic paper and never makes any such claims.

So as usual, the one pointing the finger is the one most guilty of
making reductionistic, deterministic mistatements. I find his defective
ideas, adversarial comments and abusive attitude unworthy of further
attention. But no doubt he will continue to fight on.

Norm

Drox

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May 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/27/98
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Paul Crowley wrote:

> Most primates have large canines. The australopiths lost theirs.
> This *must* mean that they no longer needed them, which *must*
> mean that they had some other defence.

Must they? I have to wonder... do "most primates" use their large
canines for defense? Against anything other than members of their own
species? I must admit I've never seen it. AFAIK the large canines
(found even in tree-dwelling primarily-herbivorous species) are not so
much for interspecies defense as for intraspecies intimidation-display
and occasional intraspecies fighting.

-Drox


Paul Crowley

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May 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/28/98
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On Wed, 27 May 1998 03:29:46 +0200, "Marc Verhaegen"
<Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:

>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht <356ac93...@news.indigo.ie>...

>> Hominids (normal definition)
>>could walk and their fossils may be found a long way from their
>>habitat, especially if their normal habitat was not suitable for
>>fossilization.
>

>Why do you think the australopith habitat was not suitable for
>fossilisation?

I maintain that the hominid (normal definition) habitat for the
last 5 Myr has been the littoral. It's where, broadly speaking,
they concentrate today. Littorals are poor places for
fossilization. There absorb enormous amounts of energy and sea
levels are constantly rising and falling, destroying the
evidence. The obvious way for a littoral population to expand
is to go inland. And almost every generation would export its
surplus young in that direction. Generally they would finish up
beside some lake or water hole, possibly buried in a shallow
grave by their companions, sometimes suffering from the effects
of vitamin-A poisoning after eating their dogs. This is the only
reasonable account for the condition of my favorite fossil KNM-ER
1808. Another vitamin-A-poisoned fossil was found at Venosa in
Italy dated to about 0.5 mya.

>>>Apes need their large canines for opening fruits... The males also for
>>>intraspecific use.
>>
>>The opening fruit use for large canines is fairly minor.
>
>Nonsense, the dietary use for canines is the canine size you see in females
>(opening fruits, eating bark from trees...
>
>> All primates, other than us, have large canines. Many have little
>>dietary application (e.g. male gorillas or male gibbons).
>
>Nonsense.

Large canines are expensive. The hominid (n.d.) line lost theirs
quite quickly at the earliest opportunity. Rather than say
"nonsense" you need to explain why all primates, other than us,
possess them, considering they have an enormous range of diets.

You also have to explain why males generally have much larger
ones than females. Males and females of the same species usually
have the same diet. Male gorillas have enormous canines. They
eat much the same as females.

Once an animal has such expensive equipment it will, of course,
use it for as many purposes as possible. Male chimps use them to
kill prey. But they don't have to. Goodall reports that Evered
lost three of his four canines in old age, but was still a
skilled hunter. He developed a technique of swinging the body of
the prey aninal against a tree trunk to kill it.

>> Thirdly, there is no clear way
>>that a animal with large canines could adapt to diet that
>>required a horizontal (cow-like) motion of the jaws. That motion
>>only becomes possible once the large canines have gone; so there
>>is no mechanism that could enable a gradual reduction.
>
>No. Simplification.

How is it a simplification? The interlocking nature of the large
canines of all our close relatives prevents horizontal motion
with closed or near-closed jaws. How does such an animal switch
to the cow-like (or human-like) rotary motion? IMO it is quite
clear that the canines have to be reduced in size for quite
different reasons _first_.

>>Fourthly, once an animal had adapted to such a diet, there is no
>>way that large canines could come back (as you assert vis-a-vis
>>gorillas).
>
>Why not? The canines were "small", but did not disappear.

Imagine us re-growing large canines! We would _first_ have to
change our method of mastication. Why on earth would we?

>(I didn't assert, but I do think it possible that gorillas have regrown
>larger canines.)

If gorillas are descended from australopiths, what else is
possible?

>>Fifthly, you can point to no parallels among any
>>other large-bodied (or even small-bodied) mammalian taxa of such
>>rapid changes in diet and morphology.
>
>Rapid?? See previous messages.

As you well know, changes in dentition are extraordinarily slow
in all taxa. They are distinctive to orders, families and
genera. Your disregard of the permanence of their nature is
cavalier.


>>>> They'd have had to stand still
>>>>in a group, using stones and clubs to keep the predators (or
>>>>enemy hominids) at bay.
>
>Do tapirs use clubs to keep predators or enemy tapirs at bay?

I don't get your analogy. Primates (and especially us and
chimps) are social animals that aggressively attack neighbouring
groups. Tapirs are solitary animals, that don't have the
equipment for this activity anyway. Tapirs use speed (in the
context of their habitat) to escape predators. They also have
sharp teeth and fight viciously when cornered.


>>Why improbable for the australopiths? Chimps are nearly there;
>>it is not IMO at all hard to see a chimp population that moved to
>>more open ground adopting such habits.
>
>The hominid physiology is not suited for open & dry milieus.

I didn't say anything about open and dry milieu. I meant
"slightly more open than chimp habitat" i.e. not too many trees
to get in the way of swinging clubs, possibly a beach.


>>Australopiths in trees would be much more vulnerable than baboons.
>
>Why??
>(and A.boisei males were 3-4 times as large as baboons)

Being bipedal, australopiths would be far less capable in trees.
And they don't have the other baboon adaptations to trees, such
as the iscial calosities. Being heavier, they would not be able
to get to the higher, smaller branches. So size is a
disadvantage. Recent infra-red films of leopards hunting baboons
shows that the baboons are effectively blind at night, whereas
leopards can see. The leopard doesn't always use subterfuge. It
lets the baboons know it's there, and panics them into error.

>(& can't you read? It was no problem in the water (cf. diving Fuegian women)

Sorry I had no idea that you believed hominids spent all their
time in the water.


>>I accept that stones and clubs must be carried. This would have
>>been a very important motivation for bipedalism.
>
>It's the other way round of course: carrying a club was possible because
>Homo was bipedal. And he was bipedal because his diving/wading past had
>forced him into this (slow & costly) posture.

I accept the now common view that the chimp (5 mya) was our
ancestor. You may go for another CA. In any case it was probably
using clubs much as chimps do today. This use needs a kind of
bipedalism. All you have to do is provide an environment that
encourage that and you have bipedalism in males. (Females are,
of course, another story).


>>>We see a relative canine reduction from graciles to
>>>robusts, just as expected from their diet. I can't see any problem for
>>>explaining the australopith canines.

>Unique??? See tragulids & cervid

When did they lose their canines?


>>>& bonobos "have rel.smal & only slightly projecting canine teeth"
>>
>>What is your source for this? Does it apply to males?
>
>Zihlman etc.1978 Nat.275:744

Zihlman in 1978 about Bonobos, is about the worst sort of
reference possible. The famous Kanzi is a bonobo; there is
nothing small, or "non-projecting" about his canines.

Paul.

Paul Crowley

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May 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/28/98
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On Wed, 27 May 1998 22:25:14 -0500, Drox <dr...@hotmail.com>
wrote:

>Paul Crowley wrote:
>> Most primates have large canines. The australopiths lost theirs.
>> This *must* mean that they no longer needed them, which *must*
>> mean that they had some other defence.
>

>Must they? I have to wonder... do "most primates" use their large
>canines for defense? Against anything other than members of their own
>species? I must admit I've never seen it.

Monkeys are preyed upon by chimps, baboons, eagles and leopards.
Males do their best to defend females and infants, using their
only weapons -- large canines. See the films of chimp hunts.

>AFAIK the large canines
>(found even in tree-dwelling primarily-herbivorous species) are not so
>much for interspecies defense as for intraspecies intimidation-display
>and occasional intraspecies fighting.

We are talking about australopiths which are to be compared with
largely terrestrial primates, such as baboons or chimps. They
certainly rely on their canines for defence against predators,
such as leopards (where perhaps defence often takes the form of
diurnal attacks).

In any case, why did australopiths become an exception to a near
-universal primate rule? If you say canines were used for
intraspecies aggression, what was the big change with
australopiths? The sexual dimorphism is usually held to
indicate a higher level of male-to-male competition.

The main changes were bipedalism, the acquisition of hands
designed to grasp, and the loss of large canines. These fit far
too well with club wielding for it not to be the main hypothesis.


Paul.

Paul Crowley

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On Wed, 27 May 1998 16:01:12 -0700, "Norman K. McPhail"
<no...@socal.wanet.com> wrote:

>Paul Crowley wrote:
>>
>> You're missing the context in which I used "terms you would never
>> apply to other species". Take a look at Norman McPhail's site:
>> http://204.94.86.93
>> and you'll see all sorts of talk about "heroes" and such-like.
>> Seeing hominids as supermen, talking about "supreme opportunists"
>> or "great generalists" is usually IMO an easy way to avoid
>> thought. There is an enormous amount of populist junk like this
>> around. Worse, many of these ideas infect stuff that claims to
>> be serious.
>
>Paul spent about three minutes scanning through a few pages

So you get all that info down? Actually I downloaded the one
section I was interested in, and read it later. That's how I
quoted from it.

>posting ratings for parts he didn't even read.

I didn't mean to post anything. Maybe I looked at the options,
but there was no posting button. You should clean the page up.

Paul.

Jim McGinn

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May 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/28/98
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Norman K. McPhail wrote in message <356C9B...@socal.wanet.com>...


>Paul Crowley wrote:
>>
>> On Tue, 26 May 1998 16:52:51 -0700, "Jim McGinn"

>> <jimm...@msn.com> wrote:
>>
>> >>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht
>
>>

>> You're missing the context in which I used "terms you would never
>> apply to other species". Take a look at Norman McPhail's site:
>> http://204.94.86.93
>> and you'll see all sorts of talk about "heroes" and such-like.
>> Seeing hominids as supermen, talking about "supreme opportunists"
>> or "great generalists" is usually IMO an easy way to avoid
>> thought. There is an enormous amount of populist junk like this
>> around. Worse, many of these ideas infect stuff that claims to
>> be serious.
>>
>
>
>

>Paul spent about three minutes scanning through a few pages posting
>ratings for parts he didn't even read. He has no clue about what the
>site is about and what the full content is like. His distortions are
>about as accurate as most of the postings I've seen him make to this ng.
>
>The site contains a treatment for a 33 part documentary TV series. It
>is not an academic paper and never makes any such claims.
>
>So as usual, the one pointing the finger is the one most guilty of
>making reductionistic, deterministic mistatements. I find his defective
>ideas, adversarial comments and abusive attitude unworthy of further
>attention. But no doubt he will continue to fight on.
>
>Norm

Boy have you gotten the wrong impression from my previous post. I am the
most deterministic, reductionistic, and mechanistic (in addition to being
relativistic as opposed to being absolutistic) scientist that I know. I'm
an extremist on this point. I don't allow for any kind of thinking that in
any way resembles vitalism. I don't even allow for the existence of
stochastic processes (ie. genetic drift) as a causal factor. Moreover I
find reading S.J. Gould to be very frustrating because he opens the door to
this kind of nonscientific thinking.

I breezed through your website. It has nice pictures but it isn't
scientific.

I read two books on the "Science" of complexity, one by Waldrop and the
other by Lewin. As I see it Complexity is little more than the restating of
what we already know using non-linear mathematics. To the extent that the
Science of Complexity stays within those boundaries it is useful.
Unfortunately the proponents of Complexity have a tendency to proclaim it to
be more than it really is. There critics sometimes refer to it,
sarcastically, as, "a fact free science."

I have found complexity theory useful for helping us understand the
boundary conditions by which life might have first come about on this
planet. With respect to human evolution I see nothing to be gained by
saying that human consciousness is "an emergent quality." Whenever I hear
the term emergence my bullshit warning signal goes off. In my opinion
emergence is just a pseudo-scientific way of saying growth. Here's an
experiment you might try. Whenever you see or are tempted to use the word
emergence replace it with the word growth. You will find that it doesn't
lose any of its meaning.

My approach to human evolution is very much at odds with the current
paradigm in this field. It is unfortunate that the proponents of the
current paradigm--who very often do not recognize that they are such--are
unable to see beyond the limitations of their paradigm to realize that there
are options that don't involve the scientifically untenable approach that
you are proposing.

Jim McGinn

Jim McGinn

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May 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/28/98
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Paul Crowley wrote in message <356c6209...@news.indigo.ie>...


>On Tue, 26 May 1998 16:52:51 -0700, "Jim McGinn"
><jimm...@msn.com> wrote:
>
>>>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht

>>>>Whenever you find yourself describing human evolution in terms
>>>>that you would never apply to other species, then you're
>>>>probably off the rails -- and certainly if the matter precedes
>>>>language.
>

>>This is simply wrong. If anything is clear about human evolution its that
>>it cannot be explained in terms that would apply to other species.
>

>You're missing the context in which I used "terms you would never
>apply to other species". Take a look at Norman McPhail's site:
>http://204.94.86.93

You're right, I did misunderstand the context. I took a look a Norm's site.
As soon as I read the term emergence I knew what I would find. It's funny
that some people (most notably the proponents of the "science" of
Complexity) seem to think that a non-mechanistic, non-reductionist, and
non-deterministic approaches are alternative methods to approaching science
when in actuality they are, by definition, non-scientific.


>and you'll see all sorts of talk about "heroes" and such-like.
>Seeing hominids as supermen, talking about "supreme opportunists"
>or "great generalists" is usually IMO an easy way to avoid
>thought.

I couldn't agree more.

>There is an enormous amount of populist junk like this
>around. Worse, many of these ideas infect stuff that claims to
>be serious.

Ditto.

>
>>This is especially obvious with respect to the the rate of
>>human evolution
>
>Human evolution appears to run at a faster rate; while the
>phenenon needs explanation, it doesn't put hominids into a
>special category.

I disagree. Human evolution is anamolous. IMO this is obvious not only in
the fossil record but in the morphology of present-day humans.

>
>>and with respect to the fact that fossil evidence of human
>>evolution does not conform to the species-habitat-niche-
>>stasis constraints that all other species are subject to.
>
>There are two possibilities here (a) the data is misleading, or
>(b) hominids really can swap niches.

I would add to this the following: (c) hominids broke out of being niche
specific altogether.

>
>The first is IMO much more likely. The strange habitats that
>hominids are supposed to have occupied are all dated to before
>about 1.5 mya.

I know what you are saying here. My only caution--and this is something for
which I think you are aware--is that we don't make the mistake (as seems to
be the habit of MV) of too closely associating niche with habitat. They
cannot be used interchangeably.


>In spite of remarkable advances in technology and
>(presumably) language after that, there are no such habitats
>until within the last 10 Kyr when highly sophisticated technology
>arrives.

I have work-arounds for this problem. They are too involved (and too
sketchy) to go into in this Newsgroup. They involve the existence of
Continental Glaciers.


>And even then hominids weren't able to get into the
>savanna, where they are supposed to have evolved.

I don't think anybody who is immersed in this field takes the savanna theory
(in the literal sense of it being what caused us to first become bipedal)
all that seriously any more.

>
>>The trick to understanding human evolution is to understand why it is off
>>the rails.
>

>The first step is assume hominids work within the same parameters
>and only when there are definitely no answers there consider
>possibly moving outside them.

Being a hardline Darwinist my approach never strays outside the parameters
of natural selection. However, my being a proponent of traditional natural
selection should not bring one to conclude that, therefore, my appoach must
carry forth the assumption that all species must be niche specific. The
trick to understanding human evolution is to figure out what the situational
factors were that caused our ancestors, some 4 to 5 million years ago, to
break out of being niche specific.


>
>Paul.

Norman K. McPhail

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May 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/28/98
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Jim McGinn wrote:
>
> Norman K. McPhail wrote in message <356C9B...@socal.wanet.com>...
> >Paul Crowley wrote:
> >>
> >> On Tue, 26 May 1998 16:52:51 -0700, "Jim McGinn"
> >> <jimm...@msn.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> >>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht
> >
> >>
Jim wrote:
>
> Boy have you gotten the wrong impression from my previous post. I am the
> most deterministic, reductionistic, and mechanistic (in addition to being
> relativistic as opposed to being absolutistic) scientist that I know.

This is the second time this year I've been wrong. And boy was I wrong.
How did I get such a wrong impression? Perhaps because as you say, you
are relativistic? Regardless, I still found a lot that rang true in the
post you refer to.


> I'm
> an extremist on this point. I don't allow for any kind of thinking that in
> any way resembles vitalism. I don't even allow for the existence of
> stochastic processes (ie. genetic drift) as a causal factor.

How do you stand on the idea of sexual selection and fitness selection?
Do you think there is room for selection that is related to things other
than pure deterministic fitness?

Moreover I
> find reading S.J. Gould to be very frustrating because he opens the door to
> this kind of nonscientific thinking.
>
> I breezed through your website. It has nice pictures but it isn't
> scientific.

I agree, it's not scientific in the narrow sense I assume you use and
define the term. In fact, I go to lengths to say where I think what we
normally call science is useful and where I think it causes a lot of
grief. This is one of the main points of the proposed documentary TV
series.

To repeat, the site is a treatment for this proposed TV series, nothing
more or less. I never claimed to be a scientist. And it's not
surprising that the contents are looked down on by most scientists.

Since I've also never written a script or a treatment before, it's not
surprising that the contents don't pass muster from the TV
specialists/professionals either. In fact, you would not be too far
afield if you made the blanket statement that lots of people find the
site trivial speculation. What would you expect from someone with no
academic credentials to speak of and no experience in the field of
documentary film production.

I will wholeheartedly agree with all of the above. In fact, I take
great pains to point all this out in the preface and elsewhere. So I've
tried to make all this as clear as I can to those who visit the site.


> I read two books on the "Science" of complexity, one by Waldrop and the
> other by Lewin. As I see it Complexity is little more than the restating of
> what we already know using non-linear mathematics. To the extent that the
> Science of Complexity stays within those boundaries it is useful.
> Unfortunately the proponents of Complexity have a tendency to proclaim it to
> be more than it really is. There critics sometimes refer to it,
> sarcastically, as, "a fact free science."

You might be interested to learn that I think complexity theory is less
than sound too.


> I have found complexity theory useful for helping us understand the
> boundary conditions by which life might have first come about on this
> planet.

Do you think that some form of altermative thought mode might also be
useful in understanding the margins between life and thought? Or do you
reduce these to the same thing?

> With respect to human evolution I see nothing to be gained by
> saying that human consciousness is "an emergent quality."

I agree with this mainly because I find that the notion of consciousness
is a confusion of logical types. But if you are willing to say that
some human traits and qualities are different and interesting when
compared to what we see in other life forms, then perhaps you might be
willing to consider the use of alternate ways of learning about these
traits and qualities. The whole objective, as I see it, is simply to
learn more about who and what we are.

> Whenever I hear
> the term emergence my bullshit warning signal goes off. In my opinion
> emergence is just a pseudo-scientific way of saying growth. Here's an
> experiment you might try. Whenever you see or are tempted to use the word
> emergence replace it with the word growth. You will find that it doesn't
> lose any of its meaning.

So you might say that human understanding has "grown" out of the
experiences and processes our forebears went through. I think this is a
good way to express this notion.


> My approach to human evolution is very much at odds with the current
> paradigm in this field. It is unfortunate that the proponents of the
> current paradigm--who very often do not recognize that they are > such--are
> unable to see beyond the limitations of their paradigm to realize that there
> are options that don't involve the scientifically untenable approach that
> you are proposing.


I would just like to add to this last point that I agree that THE DAWN
OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING site uses a "...scientifically untenable
approach..." And that is one of the main points I try to make
throughout the series.

What I'm suggesting is that science only has a good grasp of the realms
of physics and biology. Further, I think that science is out of it's
league when it comes to figuring out what somethning like human
understanding is.

Thus, we both seem to agree that science can tell us a lot about
evolution, physics, biology and human understanding. And I gather you
feel that science can one day give us a full and complete account of
human understanding.

Where I think we disagree is that I say that unless science changes some
of it's basic assumptions and thought modes, it will never be able to
explain all of what I am calling human understanding. In fact, I think
science can only hope to explain about half the truth when it comes to
human understanding. This is one of my main points.

I would welcome further discussion on this issue.

Norm McPhail

Marc Verhaegen

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May 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/28/98
to

Gerrit Hanenburg >Marc Verhaegen

>
>>Then again, is Hanenburg always so biased in his data?
>>Why does he omit the even more numerous apelike features in the
australopiths??
>
>Because the issue was "I can't see anything typically human in
australopiths", remember?

Okay, but there is "typical" & "typical". What is really typical in humans
is, eg, the extreme brain size & leg length - absent in monkeys,
australopiths & all apes (including bonobos & immature apes).

>>Most of the listed features can be grouped in functionally related
adaptations.
>>For instance, the broad pelvis (unlike humans & apes) with the laterally
>>expanded alae, the long femoral necks, high bicondylar angle are -
together
>>with the apelike small femoral heads & short femoral shafts - are the
>>expressions of the same adaptation: better abduction of the thighs (is
seen
>>in some swimming mammals & seems to suggest that the australopiths not
only
>>waded bipedally but also frequently swam - the same is true for the
>>australopith feet). These are certainly not adaptations for humanlike
>>bipedality: in that case the pelvis should have been narrower, the femoral
>>heads much larger, etc.
>

>These features function as a lateral balancing system. If you want
>better abduction of the thigh you need something similar to Pongo
>(shallow acetabulum, etc.)

Not completely correct: Pongo's hip is extremely mobile in +- all
directions.
The australopithecine lateral alae & the long & horizontal femoral neck
facilitate abduction.

>There is no better explanation than that these features functioned in
>balancing the torso over the hips during bipedalism.

Balancing system??? ridiculous!
How could a broad pelvis balance the torso over the hips during bipedalism?
Broad pelvises are, of course, unstable in bipedal locomotion (cf. human
female vs male gait).
The small australopithecine hips give not enough support for full
bipedalism.
(Both these features could fit swimming. Broad pelvises don't seem to fit
wading. Small hip articulations could fit wading, swimming, quadrupedality,
climbing..., but are not adapted to our full bipedality.)

>There's no indication whatsoever that these features are aquatic
>adaptations (though they do not prohibit wading).

There's is no indication whatsoever that these features were not aquatic
adaptations.
(IMO australopiths: swimming, wading, climbing)

>Most mammals that enter the water use a modified form of terrestrial
>gait (i.e. parasaggital paddling), without abduction of the thigh.
>(Thewissen, J.G.M. & Fish, F.E.1997. Locomotor evolution in the
>earliest cetaceans: functional model, modern analogues, and
>paleontological evidence. Paleobiology 23: 482-490)

See C de Muizon 1995 An aquatic sloth from the Pliocene of Peru. Nat.375:224
Australopiths evolved from arboreal creatrues & were still semi-arboreal -
unique locomotion cf.CE.Oxnard (eg, different from Homo & different from
Afr.apes)

>>>Synapomorphies of Australopithecus and Homo:
>
>>Or what is traditionally called synapomorphies, if it's assumed that apes
>>represent the ancestral state. This of course is not true.
>

>Then, what method do you use to polarize the characters?
>On the basis of outgroup comparison there's little doubt that large
>projecting canines are plesiomorphic, as are small brains, long arms,
>long ilia, absence of lumbar lordosis, etc.

Outgroup Homo-Pan: 1) gorilla, 2) orang, 3) hylobatids, 4) OW monkeys

Absence of lumbar lordosis & "small" brains, okay: little doubt.

Projecting canines, possibly (ramapiths, eg, were once called hominid
because of their small canines)

But the very long ape arms are probably derived (& developed in parallel in
the different ape species IMO, see discussion in Verhaegen 1994
Hum.Evol.9:121):
- the most aberrant features (eg, leg length in humans) are usu. derived
- humans & monkeys have rel.long, but not very long (orang>chimp>gorilla)
arms
- rel.arm length gibbon&orang>chimp>gorilla>human (eg, gorilla rel.arm
length is nearer to humans than to orangs, so if we take the mean of
chimp/gorilla/man, the hominid LCA did not have "very" long arms)
- long arms in the fossil hominid record appeared late:
- gorilla length in boisei ER-739, OH-36, L-40-19
- OH-62>>Lucy (Lucy had rel."short" arms & legs, as you know)

Long ape ilia (ie, not "elongated", but "long relative to torso length") are
no doubt derived:
- humans & monkeys have "short" ilia - see Schultz' comparisons & figures
- WL Straus: "the anthropoid-ape type of ilium is in no sense intermediate
between the human & lower mammalian forms"
- see discussion Verhaegen 1994 Hum.Evol.9:121

>>Flipperlike (long metatarsals & short digits) = swimming feet:
>>in sealions > humans > australopiths > Afr.apes
>

>Metatarsals and phalanges in humans and australopithecines relatively
>shorter than in non-aquatic Afr.apes.

Okay for phalanges.
"Long, flat, broad feet with robust first & last digital rays are typical of
wading, swimming & diving birds & mammals (fig.5.5) but terrestrial &
arboreal animals have narrower feet with the central digits being those most
emphasised (Wyss 1988) ... in modern man, the common integumentary covering
of the foot encloses a much higher percentage of the toe bones than in any
extant primate" (Verhaegen 1991 in Roede ed."Aq.ape..." Souvenir). IOW the
human short toes enhance the closed plantar surface. Cursorials, on the
contrary, have elongated toes.


>
>>Full plantigrady is seen, eg, in humans & Afr.apes & australopiths &
sealions.
>

>Yes, plantigrady was probably already present in the bear-like
>terrestrial ancestor of Pinnipedimorpha and has nothing to do with
>aquaticness.

Why do you think this bearlike pinnipedimorph ancestor was "terrestrial"?

>>Univertebral articular pattern for the first rib.
>
>>Instead of bivert.articulation. Chimps are intermediary.
>>Discussed in Verhaegen 1991
>>(loose rib articulations are seen in most aquatic mammals)
>

>Whales have single-headed ribs, but this situation is not even
>remotely present in hominins.

Of course (cetaceans!), but loose rib articulations as in aquatic mammals
could easily be due to the water support.

>>Primitive arm in australopiths, not yet knuckle-walking.
>>(first K-W features are seen in boisei arm bones)
>

>And those incipient K-W features are?

Robusticity, length, curvature, & cross-section of arm bones (refs in
Verhaegen 1994 Hum.Evol.9:121)

Etcetera etcetera.

(such sterile discussions are a waste of time)

Jim McGinn

unread,
May 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/28/98
to

Norman K. McPhail wrote in message <356DD0...@socal.wanet.com>...


>Jim McGinn wrote:
>>
>> Norman K. McPhail wrote in message <356C9B...@socal.wanet.com>...
>> >Paul Crowley wrote:
>> >>
>> >> On Tue, 26 May 1998 16:52:51 -0700, "Jim McGinn"
>> >> <jimm...@msn.com> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> >>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht
>> >
>> >>
>Jim wrote:
>>
>> Boy have you gotten the wrong impression from my previous post. I am the
>> most deterministic, reductionistic, and mechanistic (in addition to being
>> relativistic as opposed to being absolutistic) scientist that I know.
>
>This is the second time this year I've been wrong. And boy was I wrong.
>How did I get such a wrong impression? Perhaps because as you say, you
>are relativistic? Regardless, I still found a lot that rang true in the
>post you refer to.
>

It is insightful on your part that you keyed in on my relativistic aspects
to my approach. This is the one area where I differentiate my thinking from
that of traditional evolutionary biologists, ie. Dawkins. Dawkins work,
which pretty much reflects the current paradigm, is chock-full of
absolutistic assumptions. It is these absolutistic assumptions that--when
combined with reductionism, mechanism, and determinism--are the source of
the anti-human aspects of evolutionary theory. The problem is not
reductionism, mechanism, and determinism in themselves. (I can prove this.)

>
>> I'm
>> an extremist on this point. I don't allow for any kind of thinking that
in
>> any way resembles vitalism. I don't even allow for the existence of
>> stochastic processes (ie. genetic drift) as a causal factor.
>
>How do you stand on the idea of sexual selection

I see sexual selection as being sub-operative to natural selection.

and fitness selection?

When fitness is properly defined I have no trouble with it. But I have yet
to see fitness properly defined. Invariably the definitions I have seen
contain some greater or lesser absolutistic assumption(s). I have redefined
fitness but I first had to redefine a lot of the underying terminology. In
other words, if I was to state it to you right now you wouldn't have a clue
what I was talking about. So I won't open that can of worms.

>Do you think there is room for selection that is related to things other
>than pure deterministic fitness?

No. (Again, assuming fitness is defined properly.)

>
>Moreover I
>> find reading S.J. Gould to be very frustrating because he opens the door
to
>> this kind of nonscientific thinking.
>>
>> I breezed through your website. It has nice pictures but it isn't
>> scientific.
>
>I agree, it's not scientific in the narrow sense I assume you use and
>define the term. In fact, I go to lengths to say where I think what we
>normally call science is useful and where I think it causes a lot of
>grief.

I agree science does cause a lot of grief. And more than any other science
evolutionary theory, especially when it involves human origins, is the
source of grief. I am a strong proponent of selective censorship of human
evolutionary theory. No kidding. In fact when the cause of human evolution
is finally revealed. (And theis will happen very soon, take my word on it.)
It will be made clear why it is that evolutionary theory (especially as it
applies to implications on traditional beliefs of human origins--both
secular and religious) is such a source of grief.

>This is one of the main points of the proposed documentary TV
>series.
>
>To repeat, the site is a treatment for this proposed TV series, nothing
>more or less. I never claimed to be a scientist. And it's not
>surprising that the contents are looked down on by most scientists.
>

This is a scientific newsgroup.

>Since I've also never written a script or a treatment before, it's not
>surprising that the contents don't pass muster from the TV
>specialists/professionals either. In fact, you would not be too far
>afield if you made the blanket statement that lots of people find the
>site trivial speculation. What would you expect from someone with no
>academic credentials to speak of and no experience in the field of
>documentary film production.
>
>I will wholeheartedly agree with all of the above. In fact, I take
>great pains to point all this out in the preface and elsewhere. So I've
>tried to make all this as clear as I can to those who visit the site.
>

The fact that I don't find the site scientifically valid should not in any
way be the measure of the value of the site. I also think it's a beautiful
and well constructed site.

>
>> I read two books on the "Science" of complexity, one by Waldrop and the
>> other by Lewin. As I see it Complexity is little more than the restating
of
>> what we already know using non-linear mathematics. To the extent that
the
>> Science of Complexity stays within those boundaries it is useful.
>> Unfortunately the proponents of Complexity have a tendency to proclaim it
to
>> be more than it really is. There critics sometimes refer to it,
>> sarcastically, as, "a fact free science."
>
>You might be interested to learn that I think complexity theory is less
>than sound too.

>
>> I have found complexity theory useful for helping us understand the
>> boundary conditions by which life might have first come about on this
>> planet.
>
>Do you think that some form of altermative thought mode might also be
>useful in understanding the margins between life and thought? Or do you
>reduce these to the same thing?

When I'm wearing the hat of a scientist the answers to these questions are,
no to the first and yes to the second.. Otherwise (and usually) the
answers are yes to the first and no to the second.

It will tell us the how and why. (This I know because I will be the one who
does it.) As to the what, however, and the details thereof, well, most of
that has been lost in time.

>
>Where I think we disagree is that I say that unless science changes some
>of it's basic assumptions and thought modes, it will never be able to
>explain all of what I am calling human understanding. In fact, I think
>science can only hope to explain about half the truth when it comes to
>human understanding. This is one of my main points.

I agree with you with respect to the basic assumptions, ie absolutism.

Marc Verhaegen

unread,
May 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/29/98
to

Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht

<356d7a7a...@news.indigo.ie>...


>On Wed, 27 May 1998 03:29:46 +0200, "Marc Verhaegen"

>>Why do you think the australopith habitat was not suitable for
>>fossilisation?
>
>I maintain that the hominid (normal definition) habitat for the
>last 5 Myr has been the littoral. It's where, broadly speaking,
>they concentrate today. Littorals are poor places for
>fossilization. There absorb enormous amounts of energy and sea
>levels are constantly rising and falling, destroying the
>evidence. The obvious way for a littoral population to expand
>is to go inland. And almost every generation would export its
>surplus young in that direction. Generally they would finish up
>beside some lake or water hole, possibly buried in a shallow
>grave by their companions, sometimes suffering from the effects
>of vitamin-A poisoning after eating their dogs. This is the only
>reasonable account for the condition of my favorite fossil KNM-ER
>1808. Another vitamin-A-poisoned fossil was found at Venosa in
>Italy dated to about 0.5 mya.

No evidence of vit.A poisoning in hominid fossils! This solution was
"invented" because they could find any better.
(The thick bones can only be explained by slow diving.)

Littorals, okay, but diving littorals.

>>>>Apes need their large canines for opening fruits... The males also for
>>>>intraspecific use.
>>>
>>>The opening fruit use for large canines is fairly minor.
>>
>>Nonsense, the dietary use for canines is the canine size you see in
females
>>(opening fruits, eating bark from trees...
>>
>>> All primates, other than us, have large canines. Many have little
>>>dietary application (e.g. male gorillas or male gibbons).
>>
>>Nonsense.
>
>Large canines are expensive.

Are they?

> The hominid (n.d.) line lost theirs
>quite quickly at the earliest opportunity. Rather than say "nonsense"

Why should teeth have little dietary application?? (I don't say they can't
have other functions too.)

> you need to explain why all primates, other than us,
>possess them, considering they have an enormous range of diets.

Gigantopith. had small canines. Somo Sivapith. "ramapiths" had small
canines. Hapalemur (bamboo lemur) has small canines (not much longer than
its incisors & much shorter than Lemur). Some believe Gigantopith. ate a lot
of bamboo.

>You also have to explain why males generally have much larger ones than
females.

I don't have to explain. It has been explained: intraspecific adaptations.

> Males and females of the same species usually
>have the same diet. Male gorillas have enormous canines. They
>eat much the same as females.

The female teeth are almost exclusively dietary, the male/female difference
can be regarded as predom.not-dietary. Gorillas are polygynous.

>Once an animal has such expensive equipment it will, of course,
>use it for as many purposes as possible. Male chimps use them to
>kill prey. But they don't have to. Goodall reports that Evered
>lost three of his four canines in old age, but was still a
>skilled hunter. He developed a technique of swinging the body of
>the prey aninal against a tree trunk to kill it.

Beautiful!

>>> Thirdly, there is no clear way
>>>that a animal with large canines could adapt to diet that
>>>required a horizontal (cow-like) motion of the jaws. That motion
>>>only becomes possible once the large canines have gone; so there
>>>is no mechanism that could enable a gradual reduction.
>>
>>No. Simplification.
>
>How is it a simplification? The interlocking nature of the large
>canines of all our close relatives prevents horizontal motion
>with closed or near-closed jaws.

Not totally. Tragulids, eg, have long canines.

>How does such an animal switch to the cow-like (or human-like) rotary
motion? IMO it is quite clear that the canines have to be reduced in size
for quite different reasons _first_.

I don't think so. Canine loss seems to be one of the latest steps
(dentition) in becoming a herbivore.

>>>Fourthly, once an animal had adapted to such a diet, there is no way that
large canines could come back (as you assert vis-a-vis gorillas).
>>
>>Why not? The canines were "small", but did not disappear.
>
>Imagine us re-growing large canines! We would _first_ have to change our
method of mastication. Why on earth would we?

The australopiths (very clear in africanus) still had buttressed maxillae
for the canines.

>>(I didn't assert, but I do think it possible that gorillas have regrown
larger canines.)
>

>If gorillas are descended from australopiths...

I did not say that. I said that IMO boisei was in the gorilla clade
(possibly an extinct sidebrach, possibly a more direct ancestor).

>>>Fifthly, you can point to no parallels among any
>>>other large-bodied (or even small-bodied) mammalian taxa of such
>>>rapid changes in diet and morphology.
>>
>>Rapid?? See previous messages.
>
>As you well know, changes in dentition are extraordinarily slow
>in all taxa. They are distinctive to orders, families and
>genera. Your disregard of the permanence of their nature is
>cavalier.

("cavalier"? horse-rider?)
See the difference between the Sivapith. species: some with "long", some
with "short" canines.
I for myself have on my left side "sharp" canines, on my right side flatly
worn ones.
A.afarensis had "long" canines, africanus intermediary, boisei & robustus
short ones.

>>>>> They'd have had to stand still in a group, using stones and clubs to
keep the predators (or enemy hominids) at bay.
>>
>>Do tapirs use clubs to keep predators or enemy tapirs at bay?
>
>I don't get your analogy. Primates (and especially us and
>chimps) are social animals that aggressively attack neighbouring
>groups. Tapirs are solitary animals, that don't have the
>equipment for this activity anyway.

So what? Both fighting or not-fighting tapirs/chimps/humans are the same.

> Tapirs use speed (in the context of their habitat) to escape predators.

Exactly. I think that's what australopiths mostly did.

> They also have sharp teeth and fight viciously when cornered.

No long canines in tapirs.


>>>Why improbable for the australopiths? Chimps are nearly there;
>>>it is not IMO at all hard to see a chimp population that moved to
>>>more open ground adopting such habits.
>>
>>The hominid physiology is not suited for open & dry milieus.
>
>I didn't say anything about open and dry milieu. I meant
>"slightly more open than chimp habitat" i.e. not too many trees
>to get in the way of swinging clubs, possibly a beach.

There they could flee into the water (or flee to the land when in the
water).


>
>
>>>Australopiths in trees would be much more vulnerable than baboons.
>>
>>Why??
>>(and A.boisei males were 3-4 times as large as baboons)
>
>Being bipedal, australopiths would be far less capable in trees.

No, proboscis monkeys are extremely agile in the trees, yet they are bipedal
in the water & sometimes on land.
Lucy had clear arboreal adaptations (eg, curved pahlanges of hands & feet),
no doubt "she" was very agile in the trees.

>And they don't have the other baboon adaptations to trees, such as the
iscial calosities.

How do you know the australopiths had no ischial callosities?

> Being heavier, they would not be able to get to the higher, smaller
branches.

Lucy was probably 20-30 kg. The boisei male was perhaps 80 kg or more.

> So size is a
>disadvantage. Recent infra-red films of leopards hunting baboons
>shows that the baboons are effectively blind at night, whereas
>leopards can see. The leopard doesn't always use subterfuge. It
>lets the baboons know it's there, and panics them into error.
>
>
>
>>(& can't you read? It was no problem in the water (cf. diving Fuegian
women)
>
>Sorry I had no idea that you believed hominids spent all their time in the
water.

Well, even that is not completely impossible. Childbirth is easier in the
water than outside (Michel Odent). Some waterborn babies sleep the whole
night floating on the water & even cry when taken out.

>>>I accept that stones and clubs must be carried. This would have
>>>been a very important motivation for bipedalism.
>>
>>It's the other way round of course: carrying a club was possible because
>>Homo was bipedal. And he was bipedal because his diving/wading past had
>>forced him into this (slow & costly) posture.
>
>I accept the now common view that the chimp (5 mya) was our ancestor.

The were no "chimps" 5 mya. There was the LCA of chimps & humans then. The
best approximation of this creature we have today is africanus or Lucy:
bipedally wading, arboreal, swimming.

>You may go for another CA.

What is CA?

> In any case it was probably using clubs much as chimps do today.

I don't think so. They were already partial waders.

> This use needs a kind of
>bipedalism. All you have to do is provide an environment that
>encourage that and you have bipedalism in males. (Females are,
>of course, another story).

??

>>>>We see a relative canine reduction from graciles to
>>>>robusts, just as expected from their diet. I can't see any problem for
>>>>explaining the australopith canines.
>
>>Unique??? See tragulids & cervid
>
>When did they lose their canines?

Somewhere between tragulid/cervid canines were lost.

>>>>& bonobos "have rel.smal & only slightly projecting canine teeth"
>>>
>>>What is your source for this? Does it apply to males?
>>
>>Zihlman etc.1978 Nat.275:744
>
>Zihlman in 1978 about Bonobos, is about the worst sort of
>reference possible. The famous Kanzi is a bonobo; there is
>nothing small, or "non-projecting" about his canines.


Is Kanzi a male?

Marc

Gerrit Hanenburg

unread,
May 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/29/98
to

Marc Verhaegen <Marc.Ve...@village.uunet.be> wrote:

>Okay, but there is "typical" & "typical". What is really typical in humans
>is, eg, the extreme brain size & leg length - absent in monkeys,
>australopiths & all apes (including bonobos & immature apes).

When such highly derived features become the criteria for being
"typically" human then it is no wonder that hominins that are still
close to the ancestral state do not show anything "typically" human.

>>There is no better explanation than that these features functioned in
>>balancing the torso over the hips during bipedalism.

>Balancing system??? ridiculous!
>How could a broad pelvis balance the torso over the hips during bipedalism?

By contraction of the laterally positioned M. gluteus medius and
minimus, as in modern humans. (See Rak, Y. 1991. Lucy's Pelvic
Anatomy: It's Role In Bipedal Gait. JHE 20: 283-290, for a functional
interpretation of Lucy's relatively wide pelvis)

>Broad pelvises are, of course, unstable in bipedal locomotion (cf. human
>female vs male gait).
>The small australopithecine hips give not enough support for full
>bipedalism.

Although it's true that Lucy's femoral head is relatively small
compared to modern humans, that doesn't imply that it couldn't carry
the weight of her torso during bipedal locomotion.
Or perhaps you have quantitative data that her hip would have
fractured?

The biomechanical advantage of australopithecine lower limb and pelvic
morphology during bipedalism, relative to that of non-hominins, have
been discussed at length in the literature.
There is virtually consensus with regard to that point among those who
have studied the material from that point of view (though there is
still discussion with regard to the exact form and the relative degree
of australopithecine bipedalism).
Australopithecines were probably not fully bipedal and their
bipedalism was probably not as efficient as that of modern humans, but
the point is whether or not it was effective under given ecological
circumstances (and that may even include wading in swamp grassland,
but not necessarily or primarily. After all, wading is only one
"application" of bipedalism).



>But the very long ape arms are probably derived (& developed in parallel in
>the different ape species IMO, see discussion in Verhaegen 1994
>Hum.Evol.9:121):
>- the most aberrant features (eg, leg length in humans) are usu. derived
>- humans & monkeys have rel.long, but not very long (orang>chimp>gorilla)
>arms
>- rel.arm length gibbon&orang>chimp>gorilla>human (eg, gorilla rel.arm
>length is nearer to humans than to orangs, so if we take the mean of
>chimp/gorilla/man, the hominid LCA did not have "very" long arms)
>- long arms in the fossil hominid record appeared late:
> - gorilla length in boisei ER-739, OH-36, L-40-19

Absolutely or relatively?

> - OH-62>>Lucy (Lucy had rel."short" arms & legs, as you know)

Humerofemoral index in OH 62 is 95%, but as you know this specimen is
very fragmentary, so there may be a considerable error.
(Johanson et al. 1987 do not give confidence limits of their
estimate).
A.afarensis DID have relatively long arms, mainly due to a relatively
long forearm (Kimbel et al. 1994. The First Skull and Other New
Discoveries of Australopithecus afarensis at Hadar, Ethopia. Nature
368: 450).

>Long ape ilia (ie, not "elongated", but "long relative to torso length") are
>no doubt derived:
>- humans & monkeys have "short" ilia - see Schultz' comparisons & figures
>- WL Straus: "the anthropoid-ape type of ilium is in no sense intermediate
>between the human & lower mammalian forms"
>- see discussion Verhaegen 1994 Hum.Evol.9:121

Try a different measure of relative length (e.g. relative to femoral
head diameter).

>>Yes, plantigrady was probably already present in the bear-like
>>terrestrial ancestor of Pinnipedimorpha and has nothing to do with
>>aquaticness.

>Why do you think this bearlike pinnipedimorph ancestor was "terrestrial"?

On the basis of anatomy and phylogenetic inference.
Pinniped anatomy is basically that of a quadrupedal mammal that, like
cetaceans, became secondarily aquatic.
Phylogeny: Ursidae is the sistertaxon of Pinnipedia. Procyonidae is
the sistertaxon of Ursida (= Ursidae + Pinnipedia).
Both Ursidae and Procyonidae are characterized by plantigrade
quadrupedal terrestrial locomotion. Therefore it is most likely that
this is the ancestral state.

>>Whales have single-headed ribs, but this situation is not even
>>remotely present in hominins.

>Of course (cetaceans!), but loose rib articulations as in aquatic mammals
>could easily be due to the water support.

You should specify what you mean by "loose rib articulations".
All primates have the primitive double articulation between ribs
(caput costae and tuberculum costae) and vertebrae. Hominins are no
exception.

>>And those incipient K-W features are?

>Robusticity, length, curvature, & cross-section of arm bones (refs in
>Verhaegen 1994 Hum.Evol.9:121)

Is that it? Can't you provide us with a little less ambiguous
evidence?
Every undergraduate who studied chapter 17 and 18 in Aiello and Dean's
"An Introduction to Human Evolutionary Anatomy" knows better.
(For example: Paranthropus doesn't have an incipient deep olecranon
fossa with steep and sharp lateral margin. See p.367 in Aiello and
Dean)

>Etcetera etcetera.
>(such sterile discussions are a waste of time)

Sure, unlimited speculation is much more fun.

Gerrit

Norman K. McPhail

unread,
May 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/29/98
to

Jim McGinn wrote:
>
> Norman K. McPhail wrote in message <356DD0...@socal.wanet.com>...
> >Jim McGinn wrote:
> >>
> >> Norman K. McPhail wrote in message <356C9B...@socal.wanet.com>...
> >> >Paul Crowley wrote:
> >> >>
> >> >> On Tue, 26 May 1998 16:52:51 -0700, "Jim McGinn"
> >> >> <jimm...@msn.com> wrote:
> >> >>
> >> >> >>Paul Crowley heeft geschreven in bericht
> >> >
> >> >>
> >Jim wrote:
> >>

> It is insightful on your part that you keyed in on my relativistic aspects
> to my approach. This is the one area where I differentiate my thinking from
> that of traditional evolutionary biologists, ie. Dawkins. Dawkins work,
> which pretty much reflects the current paradigm, is chock-full of
> absolutistic assumptions. It is these absolutistic assumptions that--when
> combined with reductionism, mechanism, and determinism--are the source of
> the anti-human aspects of evolutionary theory. The problem is not
> reductionism, mechanism, and determinism in themselves. (I can prove this.)

You seem to be describing the same aspect of scientific thought and
assumptions that I think causes a blind spot. But I also think all of
us have a hard time seeing through this blind spot. So in some
respects, we are all handicapped with this blind spot. And I would
point to the evolution versus creation debates as evidence of how
pervasive this problem is.


> >
> >> I'm
> >> an extremist on this point. I don't allow for any kind of thinking that
> in
> >> any way resembles vitalism.

Vitalism, to my way of thinking, is just another way of saying we don't
know what life is or how it got started. We do this with a lot of
things that seem too big to grasp. It may be that it causes too much
stress for most people to keep working on a big problem like this.

So we often point to some notion that has no meaning and try to fool
ourselves into believing that we have it all figured out. The big
problem with quick fix notions like vitalism is that we give up trying
to understand what things like life are. And so long as we give up
trying to understand something like life, there is a 100 percent chance
that we won't figure it out.

> >>I don't even allow for the existence of
> >> stochastic processes (ie. genetic drift) as a causal factor.
> >

> >How do you stand on the idea of sexual selection?...


>
> I see sexual selection as being sub-operative to natural selection.
>
> >and fitness selection?
>
> When fitness is properly defined I have no trouble with it. But I have yet
> to see fitness properly defined. Invariably the definitions I have seen
> contain some greater or lesser absolutistic assumption(s). I have redefined
> fitness but I first had to redefine a lot of the underying terminology. In
> other words, if I was to state it to you right now you wouldn't have a clue
> what I was talking about. So I won't open that can of worms.

I'm going to guess that your notion of fitness may not be too different
from mine. So please spell it out and lets see how far apart we are.



> >Do you think there is room for selection that is related to things other
> >than pure deterministic fitness?
>
> No. (Again, assuming fitness is defined properly.)

> >>


> >> I breezed through your website. It has nice pictures but it isn't
> >> scientific.
> >
> >I agree, it's not scientific in the narrow sense I assume you use and
> >define the term. In fact, I go to lengths to say where I think what we
> >normally call science is useful and where I think it causes a lot of
> >grief.
>
> I agree science does cause a lot of grief. And more than any other science
> evolutionary theory, especially when it involves human origins, is the
> source of grief. I am a strong proponent of selective censorship of human
> evolutionary theory. No kidding. In fact when the cause of human evolution
> is finally revealed. (And theis will happen very soon, take my word on it.)
> It will be made clear why it is that evolutionary theory (especially as it
> applies to implications on traditional beliefs of human origins--both
> secular and religious) is such a source of grief.
>


What follows is why I think it's important to reconcile evolutionary
theory with our secular and religious values:

The Value of Life.

The misuse of metaphors by science is not new. Newton's clockwork model
tries to reduce all realms to a physical cause and effect world. This
still mixes up how we think life works three hundred plus years down the
line.

In biology, some have tried to reduce the way life forms evolve to a
single phrase. Thus, many think that the "survival of the fit" is how
life got to be the way it is. This meme, like many others we think came
from science, has crept into our culture and value systems.

But most scientists I know think it's wrong to try to improve our
species by culling the unfit. And like most of us, they say we ought
not to value others by how fit they are. In other words, how we value
each other ought not to be based on any fitness test. Then they say we
shouldn't base our human values on the laws and theories that science
gives us.

By this, scientists mean that we shouldn't derive moral or social values
from what science finds in nature. They claim that the rules we agree
to live by are not like the rules that govern nature. Thus they suggest
that the laws of nature and those we make up are not in the same
class.

But I say that these rules we make for ourselves are almost always based
on the values we hold. And I think most people would agree that our
values are a big part of our rules and laws. If a law is out of sync
with our values, most people will not comply with it.

Most of us who've been in law enforcement know that most of the job is
getting people to comply. Yet over the long haul, the laws that are out
of sync with our values just don't work well. So it's like the old
saying says, you can't legislate morality.

What's more, I claim that we use the lessons that science teaches us to
change our values. Then these values show up in the laws and rules we
set up for our selves. Our environmental and abortion laws are two good
examples of this.

Most of us now grasp the fact that we humans have bent some of the laws
of nature. Natural selection does not work the way it used to. Today,
we have a lot to say about which species live and which ones die. We've
learned to bend some of the laws of nature for our own benefit.

Science has shown us how to protect and extend our lives. It has helped
us produce enough food to feed vast numbers of our kind who would starve
without it. Then we shape our environment and ecosystems to make life
safe and easy.

To do all these things, we've had to change the rules of survival for
most species on this earth. Science has helped us grasp this fact. And
it has helped us see how we have hurt our habitat.

So most of us now understand that we pay a big price to protect and feed
our selves. True, we still place a high value on human life. But now
we realize that too many people can deplete the earth's resources.

When we're not careful, we degrade the ecosystems we all depend on. And
we now know that at the very least, this will reduce the quality of
human life. Thus it's easy to see that science has had a role in
changing some of our values.

Then science found new ways to control birth. And this helped bring
about more changes in how we look at and value human life. Hence, some
of our values are not the same as those of our parents and grandparents.

Next, these kinds of changes in values led to changes in our laws about
abortion. We also wrote laws to help us clean up and restore our
environment. Then we passed laws to help save species that are at risk
of dying out. We derived all these laws from what science has taught us
about life, ecosystems and the biosphere.

We now can see that we are just a part of this biosphere. So our values
reflect these insights into how all life systems interact and depend on
each other. And now our laws also reflect at least some of these new
values.

But what about a meme like the survival of the fit? What does it mean
when scientists conclude that the weak will die off? To me, this
implies that in the wild the genes of an unfit plant or animal will also
die.

But then science says this harsh rule of nature promotes the fitness of
the species as a whole. And this fitness, in turn, may keep it from
going extinct. So in the long run, science concludes the survival of
the fit can benefit living things.

Next, most people will wonder if the health of our own kind isn't
governed by this law of nature. We all know that we humans are just a
form of life. So it makes sense to ask whether we should value each
other based on how fit we are.

From the late 1800s through the first half of this century, people from
around the world asked this question. As a result, lots of people felt
that the unfit should not have children. It was called eugenics. And
it was wide spread.

Then the Nazis took this meme to a new level. They said the unfit
polluted the gene pool. And they killed millions whom they thus judged
as not fit to live.

There are a few that still think this way. They say we should cull out
the weak unfit amongst us. They claim that this is for the good of the
species.

Yet we've seen that even though our forebears were adaptable, they were
not what we might call fit. But recall that it was this lack of fitness
that helped them change their problems. They changed their gene
changing problems into thought problems. This led to a four fold
increase in brain size and what we now call thought.

We saw that our forebears were good at living in the seams between
habitats. There is now some evidence that they felt at home in places
like a beach. Here they could go back and forth between the land and
the sea. They also liked to hang out in the trees that ran between the
rain forest and the plains. And they may have gone back and forth
between many of these places including the mountains and the desert.

Yet in spite of all this, our forebears were not well suited to any one
habitat. So they paid a big price for being adaptable. The price was
that they did not fit well into any one habitat.

We've seen that this is different from the way most species evolve.
Most species evolve to fit into a tight niche in an ecosystem. Yet when
we compare this with our forebears' game plan, it's easy to see what
misfits they were.

Their odd mix of features were not a good match for any one place.
Their traits were only partly suited to the jungle, the sea, the plains,
the desert or the mountains. So they didn't fit in anywhere.

They were not very fast. They were not very strong. They were not very
big. They were not very good swimmers. They couldn't fly. They had no
claws. They had no protective shell or fur. And they had no fangs.

Still, our forebears had lots of choices. They could go where the trees
were ripe with fruit. They could dig for tubers and fish for termites.

They sometimes hunted small rodents and monkeys. They could scavenge
the marrow and brains when the big cats and dogs were done with their
kills. They could dine on leaves, nuts and fruit from high in the trees
or veggies on the ground. And they could harvest a wide assortment of
sea life near the shore.

What's more, our forebears found that the margins between habitats gave
them lots of ways to play it safe. Here they had lots of choices. At
times, they could just jump in the water to escape from a predator. At
other times, they might climb into the trees to stay out of harm's way.
If sharks got too close while they were diving for urchins, they could
just run up on the beach.

But they had to learn how to exploit the safety and shelter of many
habitats. And they also had to learn when, where and how to exploit a
given habitat for food.

With all these choices, our forebears came to rely more and more on
their brains. Still, they didn't physically fit any one of these
habitats very well. In fact, it's no stretch at all to say that they
were physically unfit.

So I like to say that our forebears were misfits. Yet I think this lack
of fitness meant that they had to be able to make wise choices. And
this, in turn, meant that to survive they had to depend more and more on
their brains.

It was their bodies that could not keep up with all the changes. Their
genes could not change their bodies fast enough to adapt to all the
changes going on around them. So they had to find another way to
survive.

If they were going to survive, our forebears had no choice. They had to
rely on their brains and their mental fitness. Thus, I think we got our
big brains at least in part because our forebears were not physically
fit.

Now we come to why I think it's a mistake to blur the notion of physical
and mental fitness. What happens if we merge our forebears' fitness to
mean both their physical and mental fitness? We miss the way these two
types of fitness work with each other. Hence, we miss a big part of how
and why a long string of complex changes led to understanding.

Understanding the details of how we got to be the way we are, tells us a
lot about ourselves. For one thing, it helps us see how we differ from
other species. And this, in turn, helps us grasp why we place such a
high value on human life.

So this is why it's important to understand how and why we got to be the
way we are. This true story helps us understand why it's wrong to take
a human life. And this, in part, is why most of us now agree about the
high value of human life. Thus, when it comes to the value of a human
life, most of us say fitness just isn't relevant.

Still, some persist and argue that promoting the survival of the fit
would help our species as a whole. They might try to convince us that
it's good to sterilize or kill off those who are not fit. And they
might try to pass laws that allow the strong to get away with killing
off the weak. We can all name far too many examples to prove that this
meme is still alive if not thriving throughout the world.

But science gives us yet one more reason to value any and all human
life. And this reason, in turn, helps explain why we pass and enforce
laws against killing each other. This reason has to do with gene
diversity.

One thing we know for sure is that our descendants will face a wide
range of crises. Sharp ice age climate changes will threaten their food
supplies. Our species will be under pressure from new and changing
virus strains. And it will face a whole host of disasters like the
meteor that caused the death of the dinosaurs.

Yet the biggest risk of all may be the threat we pose to our selves. In
the next world war, we'll use nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
to kill billions of our own kind.

A diverse gene pool may help ensure that at least some of our species
will live through these crises. The point is that it makes sense to
protect and promote a diverse human gene pool. One of the ways we can
do this is by valuing the lives of all our fellow human beings.

Once again, we've seen that a diverse gene pool helps a species survive
over the long haul. And we've seen that it was the fact that our
forebears were unfit that led to their big brains. In the light of
these two facts, the high value we place on each person makes more
sense. Thus what we learn through science seems to confirm the value of
human rights, ethics and high moral standards.

This, in turn, prompts us to pass laws that make it wrong to kill each
other. World wide, we are seeing more and more people who are able to
declare and protect their human rights. We're even starting to outlaw
genocide and other crimes against our own kind.

So a closer look at nature can lead us to a much different set of
values. From all this, it should now be clear that what we learn from
science influences and changes our values. And these value changes, in
turn, can and do have a big impact on our rules and laws. Values can
lead to big changes in the laws and rules we use to govern our selves.

So whether we like it or not, we use what we learn from science to help
govern our selves. All this is why we need to be so careful with the
theories and ideas that come from science. To me, this means that we
need to pay close attention to the hypotheses that science comes up
with.

The point is that there are strong ties between our laws, our values and
what we're learning. Once we recognize these ties, we can integrate
what science teaches us with our value systems. Then, perhaps, we can
do a better job setting up the rules we use to govern our selves.

Marc Verhaegen

unread,
May 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/29/98
to

Gerrit Hanenburg
...

>Australopithecines were probably not fully bipedal and their
>bipedalism was probably not as efficient as that of modern humans, but
>the point is whether or not it was effective under given ecological
>circumstances (and that may even include wading in swamp grassland,
>but not necessarily or primarily. After all, wading is only one
>"application" of bipedalism).

Okay, but wading fits the microwear data of PF Puech.


>> - gorilla length in boisei ER-739, OH-36, L-40-19
>Absolutely or relatively?

Absolutely


>> - OH-62>>Lucy (Lucy had rel."short" arms & legs, as you know)
>
>Humerofemoral index in OH 62 is 95%, but as you know this specimen is
>very fragmentary, so there may be a considerable error.
>(Johanson et al. 1987 do not give confidence limits of their
>estimate).

"may be" - Why always choosing the less probable explanations?? why not just
considering the logical conclusion - just considering, just try - that
australopiths were evolving in the Afr.ape direction??

...


>A.afarensis DID have relatively long arms, mainly due to a relatively
>long forearm (Kimbel et al. 1994. The First Skull and Other New
>Discoveries of Australopithecus afarensis at Hadar, Ethopia. Nature
>368: 450).

Lucy did not belong to "afarensis" s.s. (Ferguson: "antiquus")


>>Why do you think this bearlike pinnipedimorph ancestor was "terrestrial"?

>On the basis of anatomy and phylogenetic inference.
>Pinniped anatomy is basically that of a quadrupedal mammal that, like
>cetaceans, became secondarily aquatic.
>Phylogeny: Ursidae is the sistertaxon of Pinnipedia. Procyonidae is
>the sistertaxon of Ursida (= Ursidae + Pinnipedia).
>Both Ursidae and Procyonidae are characterized by plantigrade
>quadrupedal terrestrial locomotion. Therefore it is most likely that
>this is the ancestral state.

Polar & other bears & racoons are semi-aquatic (IMO the ancestral state of
pinnipeds, bears & racoons)

Marc Verhaegen

unread,
May 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/30/98
to

Paul Crowley >Drox

>>> Most primates have large canines. The australopiths lost theirs.
>>> This *must* mean that they no longer needed them, which *must*
>>> mean that they had some other defence.

Robust australopiths lost their projecting canines (though they still showed
butressed maxillae for the canines). That means that projecting canines had
more disadvantages than advantages. The primary use of canines (at least in
females) is dietary. Projecting canines must have hindered chewing. This
fits the (almost) completely herbivorous diet of the robusts as shown by
their thick enamel, enamel microwear, huge (pre)molar & cheekbone size.
If you have projecting canines, you use them no doubt in defence, against
conspecifics or against predators.
I think we may assume that australopiths were about as strong & agile as,
say, chimpanzees. If the danger came from the water (crocodiles...) they
fleed to the trees (at least the graciles) or to the land (large canines
were of no use). If the danger came from the land (leopards...) they fleed
to the water or to the trees, where they were more agile than leopards. I
doubt if even the large boisei males strongly defended themselves & their
group mates. How do gorillas manage? I think you must not overemphasize the
worth of canines against leopards (the strong arms were probably more
important).
The use of canines against other males (display, attack, defence) is the
same in both fighters. If the dietary disadvantages of long canines
outweighted the intraspecific advantages, long canines gradually shrunk, &
vice versa. (If you starve though you can beat all other males, your long
canines are of no use.)

...


>Monkeys are preyed upon by chimps, baboons, eagles and leopards.
>Males do their best to defend females and infants, using their
>only weapons -- large canines. See the films of chimp hunts.

Of course, if you already possess large canines (for eating), you no doubt
use them also for defending yourselve.
(not the "only weapons": eg, arms, cf. chest-beating)


>
>>AFAIK the large canines
>>(found even in tree-dwelling primarily-herbivorous species) are not so
>>much for interspecies defense as for intraspecies intimidation-display
>>and occasional intraspecies fighting.

I too think that their intraspecies use (display, occasional fighting) is
more important than their use against predators. But IMO dietary use is
still the most important, no doubt in children & females. Partially
frugivorous herbivores usu. have projecting canines (eg, tragulids,
peccaries) but more complete herbivores have short canines (eg, tapirs,
capibaras).
(what is AFAIK?)

...


>The main changes were bipedalism, the acquisition of hands
>designed to grasp, and the loss of large canines. These fit far
>too well with club wielding for it not to be the main hypothesis.


In an evolutionary perspective I think you have to explain all features
independently.
- striding bipedalism in primates is always wading (& gibbons walking along
branches perhaps)
- grasping hands cf. monkeys & apes
- fine manipulation in Homo cf. racoons & otters (& in robusts cf. perhaps
bamboo bears)
- loss of projecting canines in australopiths esp. robusts: herbivorous
- in Homo (in Sangiran still "more powerful canine", Rensch 1972 "H.sapiens"
Columbia UP): use of stones instead of canines? (or problems for suction?)

Capuchin monkeys use stones, bones, sticks, but are not very much bipedal.
Otters & racoons are very dextrous (& otters often adopt a bipedal stance)
but don't use sticks.
In racoons, as in humans, the brain representation for the hands is many
times larger than that for the feet.
Capuchins, otters, racoons do have projecting canines.

Of course, if you are bipedal (wading history) & you have dextrous hands
(eg, mollusc opening history), there is no reason why should not use clubs.

Paul, I think you make the same mistake as the savanna people who want to
link bipedality & nakedness & transipiration etc.

Marc

Dwight E. Howell

unread,
May 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/30/98
to

> snip

> >The main changes were bipedalism, the acquisition of hands
> >designed to grasp, and the loss of large canines. These fit far
> >too well with club wielding for it not to be the main hypothesis.
>
> In an evolutionary perspective I think you have to explain all
> features
> independently.
> - striding bipedalism in primates is always wading (& gibbons walking
> along
> branches perhaps)

Please use more logic with what you say. If these organisms only walked
as bipeds when in water they would have had to spend all their time in
water or not become bipeds. It is reasonable to suspect that spending
time in water (wadding) caused more bipedal locomotion but if it was
completely restricted to such a location they would still be quadrupeds
(most likely) as are modern apes when out of water. Please also read
some modern research on chimp behavior and stop making blanket
statements. Many sources report bipedal locomotion for a huge variety of
reasons.

Yeah, I cut some stuff but one problem at a time.


Jim McGinn

unread,
May 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/30/98
to

Norman K. McPhail wrote in message <356F12...@socal.wanet.com>...

I agree that we have the blind spot, but I don't agree that it's a problem.
I see it as a survival mechanism.

Although it seems almost too ironic, once you understand what caused human
evolution you come to realize why it is that our species has evolved a
natural resistance to scientific based explanations of human origin--you
come to realize what is meant by the biblical advice that we not eat the
fruit from the tree of knowledge.

Human evolutionary theory is the ultimate Pandora's Box.

>
>> >
>> >> I'm
>> >> an extremist on this point. I don't allow for any kind of thinking
that
>> in
>> >> any way resembles vitalism.
>
>Vitalism, to my way of thinking, is just another way of saying we don't
>know what life is or how it got started. We do this with a lot of
>things that seem too big to grasp. It may be that it causes too much
>stress for most people to keep working on a big problem like this.

Vitalism is more than you intimate. It implies the existence of laws (not
just properties) that suddenly appear on the scene. There is a big
difference between laws and properties. Most vitalists--including many of
those that use couch their vitalism in the terminology of the science of
complexity--do not have a clear understanding of this distinction.

>
>So we often point to some notion that has no meaning and try to fool
>ourselves into believing that we have it all figured out. The big
>problem with quick fix notions like vitalism is that we give up trying
>to understand what things like life are. And so long as we give up
>trying to understand something like life, there is a 100 percent chance
>that we won't figure it out.

Yes. This is why scientist tend to get kind of irritated with vitalistic
thinking.

>
>> >>I don't even allow for the existence of
>> >> stochastic processes (ie. genetic drift) as a causal factor.
>> >
>> >How do you stand on the idea of sexual selection?...
>>
>> I see sexual selection as being sub-operative to natural selection.
>>
>> >and fitness selection?
>>
>> When fitness is properly defined I have no trouble with it. But I have
yet
>> to see fitness properly defined. Invariably the definitions I have seen
>> contain some greater or lesser absolutistic assumption(s). I have
redefined
>> fitness but I first had to redefine a lot of the underying terminology.
In
>> other words, if I was to state it to you right now you wouldn't have a
clue
>> what I was talking about. So I won't open that can of worms.
>
>I'm going to guess that your notion of fitness may not be too different
>from mine.

You're probably right about this. Believe it or not, once fitness is
properly defined (And believe me it is not easily achieved--you wouldn't
believe all the philosophical wrangling one has to go through to achieve the
reductive ideal in evolutionary theory) it becomes apparent how a species
(ourselves) could have evolved the kind of morality and altruism that we
have evolved.


So please spell it out and lets see how far apart we are.

I wish it was that simple.

>
>> >Do you think there is room for selection that is related to things other
>> >than pure deterministic fitness?
>>
>> No. (Again, assuming fitness is defined properly.)
>
>> >>
>> >> I breezed through your website. It has nice pictures but it isn't
>> >> scientific.
>> >
>> >I agree, it's not scientific in the narrow sense I assume you use and
>> >define the term. In fact, I go to lengths to say where I think what we
>> >normally call science is useful and where I think it causes a lot of
>> >grief.
>>
>> I agree science does cause a lot of grief. And more than any other
science
>> evolutionary theory, especially when it involves human origins, is the
>> source of grief. I am a strong proponent of selective censorship of
human
>> evolutionary theory. No kidding. In fact when the cause of human
evolution
>> is finally revealed. (And theis will happen very soon, take my word on
it.)
>> It will be made clear why it is that evolutionary theory (especially as
it
>> applies to implications on traditional beliefs of human origins--both
>> secular and religious) is such a source of grief.
>>
>
>
>What follows is why I think it's important to reconcile evolutionary
>theory with our secular and religious values:

In contrast I do not agree that we should reconcile evolutionary theory with
our secular and religious values. Human evolutionary theory is a Pandora's
box with a bottomless pit. This will become plainly evident when the cause
of human evolution is discovered. Our secular and religious beliefs are
multiplicitously more valuable to our continued survival than is human
evolutionary theory.

<snip>

>In biology, some have tried to reduce the way life forms evolve to a
>single phrase. Thus, many think that the "survival of the fit" is how
>life got to be the way it is. This meme, like many others we think came
>from science, has crept into our culture and value systems.

I agree.

The problem is that when fitness is properly defined it has no utiliterian
value at all because it involves what will happen in the future.
Unfortunately many people think that fitness of a lifeform is derivable from
observing the nature or actions of the lifeform. Actually what one is doing
when they do such is submitting a subjective judgement of the fitness of the
lifeform which, by definition, have no scientific validity.

>Most of us now grasp the fact that we humans have bent some of the laws
>of nature.

No way.

>Natural selection does not work the way it used to.

I disagree.

I don't know if you are referring to the notion, which seems to be gaining
popularity of late, that human advances have somehow stopped the progress of
evolution. I consider this notion to be ridiculous.

<snip>

>Science has shown us how to protect and extend our lives.

I define science as applied knowledge. According to this definition science
has been around a lot longer than has humans.

<snip>

>Then the Nazis took this meme to a new level. They said the unfit
>polluted the gene pool. And they killed millions whom they thus judged
>as not fit to live.

Those who practice eugenics can expect it to be reflected back upon them, as
was the case in WWII.

>Yet we've seen that even though our forebears were adaptable, they were
>not what we might call fit.

If they were'nt fit we wouldn't be here.

>But recall that it was this lack of fitness
>that helped them change their problems.

wrong.

>They changed their gene
>changing problems into thought problems. This led to a four fold
>increase in brain size and what we now call thought.

Your thinking here accurately reflects the current paradigm of evolutionary
theory. But it is wrong. Human intelligence did not evolve as a result of
the need to be intelligent in order that we could obtain sustenance. This
is putting the cart before the horse. If it was that simple we would expect
to see many other species that had also evolved in the same kind of
anamolous manner that humans have evolved. What actually happened can only
become evident if one is first able to get beyond the grasp of the
assumptions of the current paradigm. This is not easily achieved. People
tend to be seduced by their own ideas. The current attempts to explain
human evolution have evolved into self-pertetuating memes. Many is the
scientist that had scientifically superior theories but who did not achieve
success because they did not understanding the psychological barriers to the
acceptance of their theories. I figured out the cause of human evolution.
And it is, essentially ready to be released. But I am not going to release
it until I've had some experience wrestling with the paradigmatic
assumptions of the current paradigm.


>
>We saw that our forebears were good at living in the seams between
>habitats.

Yes. But it's important to understand that some theorists that submit
statements like this are implying that our "living in the seams between
habitats," was, somehow, the cause of human evolution. This supposition is,
at best, highly incomplete, at worst, it is ridiculous.

>There is now some evidence that they felt at home in places
>like a beach.

For the most part this is consistent with my understanding. We certainly
did not evolve in the savanna.


>Here they could go back and forth between the land and
>the sea.

Okay, but it did not involve any aquatic phase. This is unnecessary.

>They also liked to hang out in the trees that ran between the
>rain forest and the plains.

There's more to it than this.

>And they may have gone back and forth
>between many of these places including the mountains and the desert.

Not until long after the human species was firmly established.

>Yet in spite of all this, our forebears were not well suited to any one
>habitat. So they paid a big price for being adaptable. The price was
>that they did not fit well into any one habitat.

Again you're falling into the trap of trying to attribute the need to adapt
to the environmental factors of a habitat as being the cause of human
evolution. It didn't happen like this. Again, if it was this simple we
would have expected many other species to have done the same.

>
>We've seen that this is different from the way most species evolve.
>Most species evolve to fit into a tight niche in an ecosystem.

Yes. This is the proper way to frame the problem of human evolution. It's
kind of ironic, however, that those who are most educated in being able to
realize this are, by way of their education, least habituated to dealing
with a species that--somehow--broke out of being niche specific. (It is
interesting to note that the literal interpretation of what it means to be a
species is to be niche specific. So in that sense humans are not a species.
Within the community of naturalist at the time, it was for this reason that
Darwin's original supposition that humans were just another species was
considered so controversial. It literally goes against the grain of what
the term species was intended to indicate.)

<snip>

>And they also had to learn when, where and how to exploit a
>given habitat for food.
>

<snip>

>With all these choices, our forebears came to rely more and more on
>their brains. Still, they didn't physically fit any one of these
>habitats very well. In fact, it's no stretch at all to say that they
>were physically unfit.

No. This isn't how it happened. Trust me.

>So whether we like it or not, we use what we learn from science to help
>govern our selves. All this is why we need to be so careful with the
>theories and ideas that come from science. To me, this means that we
>need to pay close attention to the hypotheses that science comes up
>with.
>

I'll go you one step farther. We need to selectively censor many aspects of
human evolutionary theory.