Re: Are we "special"?

John Waters (
3 Dec 1996 02:57:40 GMT

Michael Daunt <> wrote in article
> John Waters <> wrote in article
> <01bbdfdd$df787300$>...
> (snip)
> |
> This is just plain wrong. If you mean by this that
humans are the only
> species to raise more than one child at a time, with the
children being at
> varying stages of maturity, then you are just plain
wrong. Chimpanzees and
> bonobos both do this. This is an error of fact.

JW: I do not mean this. A multi-age brood is defined as any
brood of mammal young of different ages all of whom are in
their infantile stage of development. The age difference
must be a least one gestation period. The brood stage is
defined as the stage of adult life when the parent feeds
its infants.

Chimpanzees and Bonobos live in family groups containing
infants, juveniles and adolescents. But the nursing female
only feeds the current infant. Normally, the feeding of the
previous born infant is suspended well before the birth of
the next baby. Chimpanzees and Bonobos nursing females do
not feed two or more differently aged infants at the same

In the human species, the nursing female may suckle a
newborn, while feeding an older infant on adult foods. In
theory, such a female could have a family of children born
at yearly intervals and rear all of them concurrently
through to their juvenile stage of development. Chimpanzees
and Bonobos do not do this.

> Even if your assertion
> were true, this would certainly not be sufficient to
place humans in a
> separate phylum. That would require something radically
> differentiated, such as a species with five eyes and
three legs, and even
> that may not be sufficient. Given the many different
mating and
> child-rearing practices among the anthropoid apes, this
would not even be
> sufficient to differentiate a species in that group.

JW: You appear to miss the point, Michael. The human
species is the only species of mammal to rear multi-age
broods of infants. This makes it radically different from
all other mammals. (The other mammals rear single-age

But you are right of course. This doesn't justify a
separate Phylum. As far as I am concerned, the human
species is not special in any way, just different. However,
I am sure you would agree that all differences, no matter
how trivial, should be defined and categorized by
professional science.