Re: Nostrils: a definitio

J. Moore (
Sun, 23 Jul 95 19:41:00 -0500

El> Just on a point of information: A misunderstanding has arisen because
El> of a stupidly simplistic term I employed describing human nostrils as
El> "pointing downwards". I have been told that in
El> catarrhines all nostrils point downward. A lot of truth in that. If you
El> look at a foraging gelada, the nostrils point straight to mother earth.
El> So are we all the same? No. The air coming out of the gelada's nose
El> when it exhales is travelling on a line parallel to the line of its
El> jaws. The air coming out of our nostrils when we exhale is travelling on
El> a line almost at right angles to our jaws. The phenomenon I was trying
El> to explain is the direction down towards the chin (except that we're the
El> only primate that possesses a chin) rather than down towards the ground.

This is now clear... you mean toward the ground when they are
standing or sitting upright. Like the nostrils of a macaque. Or,
indeed, like the nostrils of a marmoset, which is not even a
catarrhine primate. Or like the nostrils of many other primates.

El> This trajectory also involves an awkward detour- the air has to go up,
El> and over the top, and down. I believe I quoted this as one of the
El> "scars"of evolution, an unwanted consequence of the aquatic phase.

Why, yes you did, despite your having claimed here, less than two
weeks ago, that you didn't: "In The Scars of Evolution you will seek
in vain for a mention of hair tracts or swimming babies or the direction
of the nostrils." (13 July 95 post)

El> If they dived into water from a few hundred feet up as proboscis
El> monkeys do they would need a bit more protection. And the proboscis
El> has got it.
El> Elaine Morgan.

So you're here adding to the traits of the purported aquatic
ancestor that they commonly dove head first into water from a few
hundred feet up? Often enough to drive their evolutionary process
to shape our human-style nose?

Sure those probiscis monkeys are diving head first, and not leaping
feet-first into the water, in the same manner as they do when
leaping from branch to branch? (I would like confirmation of this;
I really *would* like to be able to believe your reporting of facts,
but having just this week compared your reporting of Derek Denton's
work on salt to his actual work, I find myself unable to trust you
to be accurate.)

If you are not claiming that the purported aquatic ancestor
habitually dove head first into water from a few hundred feet up
(often enough to drive the evolutionary process which shaped their
noses) but instead just sometimes dove from a more gentle perch,
you'll have to explain why the crab-eating macaque (which is not
"a Japanese crab-eating macaque" as you mistakenly reported in *Scars
of Evolution*) doesn't have a nose like either the proboscis monkey
or humans, but instead has a nose shaped like those of other macaques.
If you want then to simply point out that crab-eating macaques
have nostrils that point downwards when their torsos are upright,
you're left having to explain why all macaques have noses like that.

This leads you into explaining why this supposedly aquatic trait
is so "hit and miss", when this "hit and miss" characteristic of
adaptation is, *according to you*, a fatal flaw when it appears in
theories of a land-based divergence.

Unless this is yet another case where the AAT, alone amongst
theories of hominid divergence, is supposed to receive special
preferential treatment.

Jim Moore (

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