Re: bipedalism

Phil Nicholls (
17 Apr 1995 01:08:53 GMT

In article <>, <> wrote:
>In article <3moieo$>, (Phil
>Nicholls) says:

>Well, we can look for hominid fossils in the Danakil Alps dating
>from when the region was an island or several islands. Even a
>find would not absolutely prove that the creatures in question were
>semi-aquatic, or that they and not cousins of theirs on the mainland
>were our ancestors, but it would make the AAH at least as respectable
>as alternative explanations of bipedalism, etc.

Finding fossil hominids in the Danakil Alps would not help unless
there was something about their morphology that suggests an aquatic
adaptation. That's the whole problem here.

>I have to agree with Mr. Nicholls on this one. We can't prove a
>hypothesis in paleoanthropology the way we can prove a hypothesis
>in geometry. The question is which idea bleeds less from Occam's
>Razor. And here I agree with Mrs. Morgan. The aquatic hypothesis
>explains quite a few anomalies, and I'm still waiting for a compelling

My counterargument is that they are not anomalies at all. At least
bipedalism and sweating are not anomalies. Those are the only two
I have had time to investigate.

>>>> We can generate hypotheses and test them. Wheeler did
>>>> that. Rodman and McHenry did that. Prost did that. You
>>>> haven't done that. All we get are more books rehashing the
>>>> same just-so story about convergent evolution.
>>> "Just So story" is not an argument. It is just a sneer. I
>>> use the same sources, the same references, the same rules of
>>> logic as the orthodox theorists do. The books are not
>>> re-hashes; each one brings new facts to bear on the argument.
>>Stephen Jay Gould used the term "just so story" to describe
>>many kinds of evolutionary explanations -- adaptionists
>>explanations. Everything is not necessarily adaptive and
>>those adaptionist explanations that cannot be tested are just
>>so stories. A logical argument is worthless if you cannot use
>>it to make predictions and generate testable hypotheses.
>>Until the AAH does this it will remain a just so story.
>This argument can be turned around: Are alternatives to the AAH
>really testable? One can test whether bipedalism aids in keeping
>cool on the savannah, but even if the answer is affirmative, one cannot
>prove that that's why our ancestors became bipedal. One can test
>whether bipedalism aids in keeping one's nose out of water (yes,
>obviously), but that does not prove that our ancestors became bipedal
>for that reason.

I am not talking about proof. I am talking about science, i.e., test
your hypothesis. Wheeler did. Rodman and McHenry did.

Phil Nicholls "To ask a question you must first
Department of Anthropology know most of the answer."
SUNY Albany -Robert Sheckley SEMPER ALLOUATTA