Re: Social evolution of hominids

Paul Crowley (
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 01:22:43 GMT

Phillip Bigelow <> wrote:

>Susan S. Chin wrote:
>> The benefit of continuous sexual
>> receptivity in human females, according to Owen Lovejoy, is to ensure
>> that the male stays with the female, even during periods when she's not
>> fertile (ovulating).

>As with many behavioral theories for hominids that have been put
>forth, I always ask this question: Is the hypothesis testable?

Phil, I think you should switch to Chemistry or some other
discipline that allows high standards of proof. It will
never be the case in PA. There will always be a lot of
uncertainty about events of many millions of years ago. Your
insistence on the wrong sort and degree of proof prevents
you from approaching the issues in the right frame of mind.
These events happened. We have to seek reasonable
explanations for them on the basis of what slender evidence
we have and try to present a coherent overall picture,
always trying to acknowledge the uncertainties. That is the
nature of the enterprise. It's not Engineering or Maths.

Take this issue. The approach should be to consider all the
possible explanations for it. There aren't many. Then
attempt to attach a probability to each, stating the degrees
of uncertainty, also saying how other aspects of hominid
evolution would link in.

The change was substantial and must IMO have happened at
least 500 kya. It would have probably have been associated
with other radical changes in social structure, lifestyle
and habitat, which would have been reflected in skeletal
changes. This would put it at the CA/hominid boundary or
the australo/homo one.

But the first stage is to consider possible explanations.
I'm not aware of any - other than the facilitation of
monogamy. Are you?