Re: Dissecting the Aquatic Ape: Bipedalism

Paul Crowley (
Sun, 04 Aug 96 16:46:39 GMT

In article <4u29gl$> "HARRY R. ERWIN" writes:

> Pongids are widely distributed in the SE Asia fossil record from the
> Pliocene on. High up in the closed canopy doesn't survive fossilization.

On death, the body of a pongid or a gibbon will fall to the ground.
This may well happen over a swamp, river or lakeside. Many deaths
will happen when the animal tries, and fails, to bridge a river
where the vegetation is a bit thin. So the bodies of pongids and
gibbons will occasionally fossilize. Whereas a chimp or gorilla
will never swim across a river or approach a lake and will usually
crawl into the underbrush prior to death.

Consequently there must be a great taphonic bias in favour of
pongids and gibbons. The complete absence of chimp or gorilla
fossils goes to show this. We know that they have been around for
at least the last 6 Myr and we have no reason to believe that their
numbers were any less throughout those 6 Myr than they were before
modern Hss. They, or very similar animals, were IMO almost
certainly around in similar or greater numbers during the previous
10 Myr.

I suggest that paleoanthropologists have, once again, let
themselves be fooled by a taphonic bias.

BTW, does anyone know how gibbons and pongids obtain water during
a drought? Would they climb down the branches of a lakeside tree?