Re: Breastfeeding and Noses.

A R Millard (
22 Aug 1996 13:24:32 GMT

John Waters ( wrote:
: Within twenty-four hours of its birth, an Ape baby can crawl towards,
: and climb up to, its mother=92s breast. A human baby cannot do this. It
: must be lifted up to its mother=92s breast, and its head supported
: during feeding.

: At some stage in hominid evolution, the initial extension of the
: infants period of helplessness must have demanded a degree of
: maternal assistance in breastfeeding. In these circumstances, it is
: easy to imagine the possibility of accidental suffocation of the
: hominid baby, as its head was pushed too close to the nursing
: female=92s breast. This would probably only affect a small percentage
: of the hominid population, but it would create an evolutionary
: demand for downward facing nostrils.

It is still possible to press the baby to close to the breast and block
it's nostrils, but babies have a reflex by which they stop suckling and
breath through their mouth when this happens. I don't see any pressure
for downward facing nostrils.


Dr. Andrew Millard
Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, Tel: +44 191 374 4757
South Road, Durham. DH1 3LE. United Kingdom. Fax: +44 191 374 3619