Re: Human Language.

Paul Crowley (
Tue, 24 Dec 1996 01:56:52 GMT (Al Curtis) wrote:

>"John Waters" <> wrote:

>> Just what sort of anatomy is needed for hunting?

Look at modern H.s.s. hunters. They have small lithe bodies
built for endurance. No hominid can get an adequate burst
of speed to catch a quadruped, but in almost any kind of
hunting there stilll be a selective pressure for speed and
endurance. This clearly rules out the A-piths (who
probably could not run at all, or if they could, were very
bad at it) and the Neanderthals.

Hunters also need (a) a good sense of smell, (b) a
protective hide against bush thorns, (c) camouflage,
(d) the ability to crawl distances smoothly and silently,
(e) good natural killing weapons such as teeth or claws,
(f) high speed and agility to avoid counter-attack,
Hominids are conspicuously lacking In all of these.

>It seems clear, as a result of research conducted by Alan Walker and
>others, that due to secondary atriciality in newborn H. erectus
>babies, the species had to have had a diet very rich in protein.

Agreed, although I'd prefer to say that it was the large
brains of H.erectus that needed the protein. This is not a
quibble, firstly because the timing of secondary
altriciality IMO long preceeded H.erectus, and secondly
because brains expanded steadily in size from the speciation
of the hominid line and the A-piths also needed a good and
reliable supply of protein.

>Unless H. erectus spent all its time locating kills from which to
>scavenge scraps, hunting was clearly a primary occupation of the

This is eminently logical. I'll adopt the tone of textbook
of the next century which will explain how its falsity was
apprehended: "Such arguments were the basis of of the
'hunting hypothesis' which prevailed for 100 years after
Darwin. Fossils found in the 1970's revealed that brain
growth came after bipedalism so could not explain it. A
radically different niche with a new food supply was needed
to account for bipedalism. Fortunately, at the same time,
it was established that ice ages had prevailed for the last
20 million years with the result that sea levels had been
100 - 200 metres lower throughout the 5 Myr period. Since
dense populations of modern humans live close to the sea, it
was realised that most hominid fossil sites must have been
submerged leaving a distorted fossil record. The feminist
revolution focused attention on the importance of the mother
/infant dyad leading to an understanding that the first step
in bipedalism was the putting down of the infant with the
early introduction of static sites and shared caring. All
these enabled the recognition that shellfish constituted the
vital new dietary element - a source of protein that did not
require chasing and which did not bite back, and which the
early proto-hominids, with their basic manipulative ability,
could readily exploit."