Re: AAT reply from Elaine Morgan

Gerold Firl (
9 Jan 1995 18:43:53 -0800

In article <3eplhs$> (Pat Dooley) writes:

>You assume our sweat system is so effective that it allows humans to
>in the noon-day sun niche. You forget the cost of that sweating in water
>and electrolytes. Not even the best marathon runners can run without
>drinking on the run. However, there was no one to man such stations
>on the savannah, and they didn't have little paper cups to drink from.

I haven't seen data on this (I still say this would be a great thesis
topic!) but I expect that a man could easily catch a medium-sized ungulate
within a half mile when the temperature is above blood temperature, and
under those conditions a lion won't even look at you. An early hominid
wouldn't need to run a marathon.

Yes, it is costly in terms of water and salt. But an animal which uses
stream beds as their home base (as I expect early homids did) can usually
get water, and animal protein has plenty of salt.

By the way, I wouldn't call any of the hominids scavengers; I think a more
accurate term is "opportunistic". They ate what they could get, but always
the premium food is animal flesh, both muscle and organ meat.

I'm suggesting that an early development of the sweat system may be the
factor (along with a highly developed social system, of course, linked with
our unique mental adaptations) which eliminates the problem of the
disadvantageous intermediates. Bipedalism isn't as uniquely human as our
sweat system. Ostriches run all over the savanna. It is our intelligence, in
the service of a social organisation which uses a division of labor to
optimise the "economic" activity of each member of the band for the common
good, along with our sweat system, which I would identify as the two most
uniquely human characteristics. It seems quite possible that these two
traits were our ticket out of the trees and into the open. Speech, and all
the concomittant physiological adaptations which make speech possible and
have extended its capabilities, is a derivative obviated by our social
intelligence. Our rise to the top of the food chain, from vegetarian to
opportunistic omnivore to big-game hunter, was launched by our sweaty

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf