Re: AAT reply from Elaine Morgan

Pat Dooley (
10 Jan 1995 22:18:58 -0500

>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
>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.

Cheetahs run at up to seventy miles an hour and they can sustain that
speed or close to it for about a minute, That gives them a range of a bit
over a mile. They still miss more prey than they catch. A highly trained
athlete can reach a top speed of around twenty five miles per hour; if
the range goes out to a mile, the speed drops to 15 mph.
with their short legs and big feet could not have matched the mediocre
performance of modern athletes. Even day-old ungulates could outpace
any human.
>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
>accurate term is "opportunistic". They ate what they could get, but
>the premium food is animal flesh, both muscle and organ meat.

The fossil evidence strongly suggests scavenging by early homos. The
signs of bones being cracked for its marrow are unmistakable. That was one
niche where they might have had a chance after the predators had finished
with a carcass. The AAT proponents would suggest the bone-splitting skill
was aquired cracking open shell fish and crustacea.

>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
>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.

Both are equally unique. The Ostrich is not bipedal in the human sense
because its legs, spine and pelvis are not aligned in a vertical plane.
penguin is the closest thing to a bipedal bird. Eccrine sweating is
or nearly unique to humans. It is used by any non-primate savannah
animal, it isn't used by any other ape, and I doubt Nicholas Phillips
that it occurs amongst monkeys.

> ........ 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
>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
>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

Lucy proves the big brain came after bipedalism. Sweating certainly
came when humans moved into the savannah post-Lucy.

Big game hunting came with weapons, social organisation and,
given the example of the Australian aborigines, the discovery of fire.

The relative efficiency of our cooling mechanism hardly mattered
once we had weapons and the ability to organise hunting to suit
our strengths (which definitely wasn't chasing after medium sized
ungulates in the noon-day sun).

And a question for the noon-day sun niche theorists: what happened
during the other half of the year; the wet season?

Pat Dooley