Re: AAT Questions...

Phil Nicholls (
Wed, 19 Jul 1995 21:48:25 GMT

Elaine Morgan <> wrote:

>Reply to Burkhead:

>>name one aquatic mammal that became bipedal"

>Nobody can name any nonhuman animal aquatic or otherwise that became
>bipedal so that's a bit pointless-

Elaine, the who thrust of your argument is convergent evolution. It
is a valid question to ask where the convergence is when it comes to
bipedalism. The short answer is that there is none. Since no one
else is trying to make a case for convergence we don't have that

>> name one aquatic mammal that weeps for grief and I will eat your

>I can't let you do that: I have enough trouble with in its unmasticated

>But Steller, the one that Steller's seacow was named after. reported
>that when he separated a sea otter from its cubs, so that it could see
>them but not reach them, it wept. You may say that is anecdotal but you
>can't deny it is an experiment that could very easily be repeatd

Don't you think the account might be a case of anthropomorphizing?
How do you know the animals state of mind? Do you have any evidence
that the lacrimal glands of a sea cow are innervated by limbic

>Reply to Nicholls.

>You say our nostrils point down (a) because we are catarrhine. Every
>higher primate east of the Atlantic is catarrhine. Why don't all their
>nostrils point down?

They do.

>(b) because of loss of facial prognathism. This is an old story, which
>says it wasn't the nose that stuck out, it was the rest of the face
>that shrank back. --as if that explained anything.

It does.

> So why didn't the nose shrink back when everything else was doing it?

The face "shranks" in response to the reduction in size of the
anterior dentition. There is no reason why the nasal open or nasal
bones would be affected by this. It's called mosaic evolution.

>(c) early hominids did't have nostrils like ours. Nobody knows what
>they were like. You only know they didn't have an ossified nasal spine.

To the extent that we can reconstruct the anatomy of any hominid, the
nose is relatively easy. Australopithecines lack the projecting nasal
bones of modern Homo sapiens. They have rather good sized snouts and
slight concaved facial profiles, very much like that seen in the

>Neither does a sea elephant, but it's got quite a remarkable appendage
>all the same.

Yes, well that's very nice. It still doesn't change the fact that
australopithecines did not have noses like modern humans.

Phil Nicholls (

"To ask a question you must first know most of the answer."
- Robert Sheckley