Re: Are we "special"?

Phillip Bigelow (
Sun, 15 Dec 1996 18:37:57 -0800

John Waters wrote:

> It is Paleoanthropology isn't it? The Paleo bit maybe all
> morphology, but what of the anthropological aspects?

Except for the sub-discipline of Comparative Behavioral Primatology
(which most definately *does* belong in sci.anthropology.paleo),
the subject of strictly *human* behavior is is more a subject for
sci.anthropology, and not one for sci.anthropology.paleo.

> Is there a social element here? Is the human species out of
> the ordinary in respect of its social interactions? Should
> this be discussed or considered?

Our behavior, culture, and the beginnings of communication are
all present in other primates. It is just that these features
are much less obvious in the other members of the Primates clade.
It is a matter of gradational change (granted, a rather large
degree of gradation, but the polarity is very clear).

I am not particularly interested in such questions as:
"humans can build rocket ships, and chimps can't! Why is this so?"

I am more interested in the following questions:
How many behavioral characteristics in humans are genetically-
inherited? And what are the primate-roots for this inherited
I just look at the problem from the other side; from the primitive-
inheritance side.
Others, like Paul Crowley, have a fascination with looking at the
problem from the "Wow! ain't we special!" side.

> It is not only physiology, it is behaviour.

You are confusing cause and effect. Only two morphological features
are distinctive gradational derivations from anthropoid primates:
the re-arranged pelves, and greatly-enlarged frontal lobes of the neo-
The gradationally- more complex behavior (emphasis on "gradationally")
is just a result of the enlarged human brain. It is not
a third, distinctive feature all by itself.

> Are there any
> Anthropologists out there?

A better question would be to ask if there are any
primatologists out there that specialize in comparative
behavioral research.