Re: AAH Challenge
Sat, 12 Nov 1994 17:53:43 EST

In article <>, says:
>First, a short introduction. I've followed and participated in the
>AAH debate, although I admit I don't understand all the arguments
>about eccrine glands and australopithecine pelvises. I'm a doctoral
>candidate in Materials, not an anthropologist or biologist. Making
>allowances for my own ignorance, it seems to me that the AAH
>proponents have a case, even if its opponents have chipped away at
>some of Morgan's arguments.
>But there is an argument which Morgan played as her trump card in
>_The Scars of Evolution_. This is that humans could not have evolved
>on the African continent throughout their history, because we lack
>a gene possessed by all other African primates except baboons.
>These genes confer protection against a baboon virus which isnot
>currently virulent, but evidently was in the past. All other primates
>exposed to it had to develop resistance, or die. The lack of this
>resistance factor in humans led to the suggestion that our ancestors
>might have evolved in Asia.
>Elaine Morgan offers a different explanation: that our ancestors were
>not in Asia, but in the Danakil Alps, then an island off the coast of
>On this group, I've seen this idea mentioned, and I've seen it brushed
>off on the ground that the original paper hasn't been referenced much,
>but that isn't an answer.

Nicholas Plummer posted a reply, in which he asked whether this was a
garbled reference to the alpha-1,3-galactosyltransferase enzyme (it
isn't), and quite reasonably requested that I give better references.
Thank Heaven for rational opposition! Here are the refernces:

G. J. Todaro argues for an Asian origin for man in an article in the
book "Current Arguments on Early Man." He says that if our ancestors
had evolved in East Africa, where baboons are common, there would
have been an evolutionary advantage in their developing a geneto
protect them from baboons' type C virus, as all other African primates
and some non-primates have done. But, like Asian primates, we don't
have such a gene.He refers to earlier papers, such as:

Benveniste, R. E., and Todaro, G. J., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA,
71, pages 4513-4518 (1974).

Todaro, G.J., Sherr, C.J., and Benveniste, R.E., Virology, 72,
pages 278-282 (1976).

Benveniste, R.E., and Todaro, G.J., Nature, 252, pages 456-459 (1974).

I hope that this will enable any molecular anthropologist withaccess
to a good library to check up on Todaro's claims.

>********* THE CHALLENGE ******
>Can anyone
>a) show that this claim about a human genetic difference
>from African primates is not accurate, or
>b) give a plausible explanation of it other than the Danakil/aquatic
>I'm asking in good faith. I'm favorably inclined to the AAH, but I
>know perfectly well that I'm not the world's greatest expert on
>everything. I read the _Skeptical Inquirer_ and do not believe in
>Nicholas Rosen
>Standard disclaimers apply.
>P.S. If no AAH opponent can meet this challenge to my satisfaction,
>AAH proponents are notified that I will contribute fifty dollars
>to an expedition to look for protohuman remains at Danakil. Eritrea
>is now independent, and seems to be doing rather well, so we may soon
>have the fossil evidence whose absence has been decried by opponents
>of the AAH.

And to be fair, I offer $50 to the favorite charity of the first person
to meet this challenge to my satisfaction, provided that this charity
not be a clearly evil cause. I am the sole judge of whether a cause is
evil, but I'll be reasonable: e.g., I don't like some of the things
the United Way does, but I'll accept it as a legitimate charity. I am
also the sole judge of whether the challenge has been answered to my
satisfaction, but even an answer that doesn't satisfy me may persuade
some people reading this group.

Nicholas Rosen
Standard disclaimers again.