Howard Wiseman (
27 Aug 1996 04:10:15 GMT

In article <4vss4n$> Eric Brunner, writes:
In article <4vss4n$> Eric Brunner, writes:
>E.G. Land ( wrote:
>: _The New American Desk Encyclopedia_ says this: ""...Recent
>: researches have suggested that they may be the result of interbreeding
>: between between an original population of "Homo erectus" and the
>: membrs of "Homo sapiens."
>: What is being said here -- that Australian Aborigines are some
>: sort of sub Homo sapien species?
>Well, what is being "said" (there) is that it is still acceptable to
>in pseudo-scientific racism within the US reference textbook market,
>the targets of this (non-cited) taxonomy are suitably exotic "others".
>more of the usual NatGeo-esque (mis)use of cultures to promote the
>of the hegemonic pretentions of the authors, their institutions and their
>cultural affiliations.

I think this is being too dismissive. I don't know what the recent
research referred to is, but the fossil remains in Australia do show an
extreme variation in skull shape and thickness, from very modern-looking
to very archaic. Furthermore, the archaic specimens have marked
similarities in form with the skulls of Homo erectus from Indonesia -
e.g. Solo, Sangiran. So I think there is evidence for a mixture of local
populations (with a regional pedigree of hundreds of thousands of years)
with more modern newcomers (from Afirca?). I don't think that anybody can
be sure on the basis solely of cranial and skeletal anatomy that two
ancient "species" could not interbreed. So I think there is no reason to
reject the suggestion out of hand.

Modern Australian Aborigines are obviously Homo Sapiens from the
definition of interbreeding. However, compared to other races they have
some extreme characteristics such as skull thickness, and tooth size. I
have even heard that some European anthropologists proposed a definition
of H.s., designed to exclude the Neanderthals, and it was pointed out to
them that their definition would exclude the Australian aborigines.

>Imagine instead written of Europeans:
> Recent researches have suggested that they may be the result of
> interbreeding between between an original population of "Homo
> neanderthalus" and the earliest members of "Homo sapiens."

You don't have to imagine this. Statements like this have been made and
they may very well be true. For example, I think there is a particular
groove in the
mandible which has a characteristic shape in Neanderthals, and this shape
turns up with relatively high frequency in Caucasian populations.
(btw I think it should be H. neanderthalensis).

I think that there is no reason for any group of people to get hysterical
and cry "bigotry" if anthropologists want to study their possible
I for one would have no shame in having a Neanderthal for an ancestor.
People should be judged on their individual merits, not on their
so I don't see what the fuss is about.

>Now imagine instead that this authoritative deskside reference of every
>scholar contained the names and addresses of the Indigenous Polities of
>exotic others... In short, treated them as unromantically as the French,
>Governments, famous contemporaries, famous historical personages, rather
>going on dubiously "biologically".

How do you know that they didn't? In any case, your analogy is not very
good. If the article was on Austrapoids, then this is explicitly a racial
group. The "French" are not a racial group - they are the people who live
in France. I'm sure that if you looked up "Australia" in this
encyclopaedia, you would find a list of famous personages, and some of
them may be Australoids (but not many because sadly their society was
violently replaced by a Western society last century).