technology and intelligence

Mr J.M. Ottevanger (J.Ottevanger@LIVERPOOL.AC.UK)
Wed, 8 Feb 1995 19:26:17 +0000

further to Dwight Read's recent post re Susman's claims of Paranthropus tool
use, I'd like to point out that the case for ascribing these bones, a pollical
matacarpal and distal phalanx and also various other manual elements, to this
species is rather dodgy. First let it be known that I have no objection to the
idea that the robusts could make and use the Oldowan tools found at Swartkrans
in principle, in fact if pushed I'd back the view, but one must be sceptical
of the evidence. The bones are unassociated and the taphonomy poorly understood.
This is not the case to go into it in too much detail, but the taxonomic attribution
was made largely on thebasis of the relative abundance of Homo cf erectus vs Paranthropus
robustus craniodental remains.This is due to the rarity of postcrania and ignores
the possibility that the postcrania show a different pattern of abundance due
to different modes of accumulation. Until the origins of the bones of both
species and the tools themselves are better understood it would be foolish to
place these specimens in one taxon or the other on statistical grounds. Sorry
to have laboured the point, but the issue is as far as I'm concerned totally
Discuss, if you got this far.
Cheers, Jeremy.