Re: AAT is dogma

Elaine Morgan (
Sun, 13 Aug 1995 16:53:28 GMT

Ralph: No, you have not misread me. I am really sorry if the bones
people have been raising hopes in their minds that have been dashed--
but I didn't realise what they were expecting and I have to say I think
it was a bit naive. It is understandable that they should feel their
speciality will ultimately have all the answers to everything but it
ain't necessarily so. They've got all the bones of Brontosaurus but
still can't agree whether it was aquatic or not.

Of course all bets are off. If I'd been asked to bet whether this
argument would be clinched one way or the other by fossil evidence I'd
have said no.That was one point on which I disagreed with Alister
Hardy. He prayed to live long enough for a fossil to be found on
Danakil. I agree with Nicholas Rosen that its actual presence there
would strengthen but not prove AAT. I never thought it would induce the
savannah theorists , as they were then, to say they had been mistaken
(it certainly wouldn't) And I never thought there would be anything in
the skeleton other than incipient bipedalism to indicate aquatic
habits. There wouldn't even have been ear exostoses, as in some erectus
fossils, because that requires cold water and the water in the latitude
and vicinity of Danakil is pretty hot, in some parts heated from
beneath as well as above.

"Sounds to me like the position one takes when backed into a
corner...the evidence can be as equivocal as I want it to be." That is
dead ironic! What do the Dartists do when backed into a corner? They
spend 50 years explaining how bipedalism arose on the open plains, and
when they find there were no open plains at the time they simply
hyphenate the savannah and lo! at one bound they are free.

When Todaro demonstrates that our ancestors cannot have been on the
savannah ( or the savannah mosaic, or any other part of the African
mainland) between the ape/hominid split and the papio/theropithecus
split, what do they do? They stuff their ears with cotton wool and
pretend they did not hear him say it.

Alex Duncan satirises AAT as follows;
"As currently formulated the argument goes:

(1) Human features such as naked skin, sweating, bipedalism, etc. must
be adaptations to life in the water.

(2) Ergo, the fact that we have these features demonstrates that we
once lived in the water."

Misrepresentation. As currently formulated the argument does not say
these features must be an adaptation to life in the water. It says they
must be an adaptation to something. Any reasonable biologist would
proceed from there to the simple and inevitable next question: "in what
kind of environment is this curious combination of features most
commonly found?"

Any scenario which inhibits its supporters from asking that question,
or insists that the answer must be irrelevant, has got to have
something radically wrong with it.

We have now had a fairly extensive probing of one another's strengths
and weaknesses. I see no reason to despair of ultimately arriving at a