Re: Who Killed the Australopithecines?

Sun, 2 Apr 1995 23:58:53 GMT

In article <3lkt8m$>, <cc3265@albnyvms.bitnet> wrote:
>In article <>, (BARD) writes:
>>In article <3lf34k$>,
>>Jim Foley <> wrote:
>>>In article <>, BARD <> wrote:
>>>> Everything being equal, they were better equipped to survive
>>>> than either ape or man; yet they perished... How and by whom?
>>>> Bard
>>>On what grounds do you say this? I have never read anything that would
>>>suggest it, and it doesn't even make much sense to say such a thing.
>>>Chimps are probably better at living on fruit in jungles,
>>>australopithecines were probably better at living on nuts and berries in
>>>a savannah environement. Neither are "better" in some absolute sense of
>>>the word.
>>>I'm also curious about your earlier messages about proving that piths
>>>are extinct. What more proof would you want than the fact that they're
>>>not found? (A fossilized autobiography of the last living
>>>australopithecine?) We can be 99.999999% sure they're gone, and that's
>>>good enough for me.
>>>Jim Foley Symbios Logic, Fort Collins
>>> (303) 223-5100 x9765
>> Evolution suggests a progression in adaptability. Working backwards
>> we see the Pith's hands and feet were more evolved than the chimpanzee;
>> the chimp's more so than the baboon; the baboon more than the
>> tarsier, etc...
>> Piths could do more things, travel greater distances, eat a wider
>> variety of food, employ more clever ways to get this food; evade
>> danger better, and yet the chimpanzee survives and the Pith
>> doesn't.
>> Why?
>> And... not finding something is not "99.99999" proof it
>> doesn't exit. In this decade alone several species thought
>> long extinct have been discovered still with us.
>Well, okay, since you seem to be serious I'll throw out a couple of reasons.
>1) Habitat. Chimps stayed in the forest, got the better resources -- piths
>got forced out on the savanna. You weren't specific about which Pith you
>were talking about, of course (there's at least 5 of them now). Some were
>extremely specialized, and so it's not surprising they're no longer with us.
>All of them had smaller canines than apes (well, afarensis was pretty close &
>ramidus might be an ape, but the others were smaller fanged). Probably less
>strength judging from ape/human comparisons today (& piths were smaller than
>modern humans). So, I'd say they were left with the less choice habitat,
>possibly not of their own free will.

Such sweeping claims..."Chimps stayed in the forest, got the
better resources --piths were forced out on the savanna."

By whom? Chimps with baseball bats?

>2) Brain power. Didn't have alot. Out on the savanna they would encounter
>lots of selection pressures, more than in the forest. Later larger brained
>hominids would have the advantage.

Piths come in at about 5-600 cubic centimeters.
H. erectus, 6- 800 cc.

H. erectus faced one of the most cunning animals ever
in the Austrolopithecine.

> The piths did have a mechanical advantage over later hominids in the area
>of speed, so I am given to understand. The wider hips of later hominids
>slowed them down. However, the piths were not bipedal as we are today, the
>modern striding gait did not come along till erectus -- those were the ones
>who could walk anywhere (& proved it by doing just that). The piths, over all,
>just couldn't measure up to the competition. I think your hero worship might
>be a bit misplaced. (Though, I admit, they are a fascinating group)

The footprints at Laetoli, Tanzania are particularly striking.
They were made by Piths three million years ago. They are without
question footprints of a creature that could walk as well
as H. erectus.

And, yes, I do worship my ancestors.

> Incidently, you might want to read up on chimps. They are quite remarkable
>and intelligent in their own right. Their diet is quite varied, in fact some
>of the piths were much more specialized in their preferences than chimps are.


Do you make up this stuff as you go, or what?

So, I wouldn't sell them short. They would be a formidable competitor to YOU
>were you dropped off in their home range without anything but your teeth and

And here Mr. Cooper seems to switch his entire argument.