Re: Are we "special"?

Phillip Bigelow (
Fri, 13 Dec 1996 20:45:13 -0800

Someone wrote:

> > >> From this I would conclude that Darwin recognized something special
> > >> about humans.

I would not conclude that at all. I would come to the
opposite conclusion: that Darwin's _Descent of Man_ recognised
the interconnectedness and similarities that humans have with
the rest of the animal kingdom, particularly with that of other
apes. Darwin recognized that humans are a part of nature, not
separate from it.
From your response, I would guess that you haven't read Darwin's
_Descent of Man_, or you have forgotten what you read.

Thomas Clark wrote:
> > I still think man is unique among animals, though.

Typed-in as Tom glances over at his handy pocket version of
The Book of Genesis.

There is nothing unique about human anatomy. It is only
a matter of degree of morphological adaptation; it is not
one of a radical new evolutionary concept.
Humans are morphologically rather generalized animals, with
only two exceptions that could be classified as "major"
1) Rearranged hip structure, and 2) large
frontal lobes of the cortex. Both evolutionary precursors to
our rearranged hips and our large frontal lobes were already
well-developed in our primate ancestors, so the derived condition
seen in our species is not particularly surprising if one
analyzes the phylogeny of our group as a whole and notes the
polarity of change.
Most of the rest of human anatomy is rather mundane
and unremarkable (for a member of the Mammalia).
Darwin wrote this over a century ago. It is quite sad that Darwin's
point still has to be reaffirmed from time to time on a
science newsgroup such as this one.