Re: Savannah strawman

Mike Muller (
Tue, 02 Jul 1996 18:34:59 -0400

JShreeve wrote:
> Have you seen the information regarding the ramidus fossil?
> It is hard for me to imagine how that much information can be garnered
> from the specimen but what the heck do I know?
> Everyone in the paleoanthropological community wants to know this. Tim
> White and colleagues have in fact found a very substantial sample of
> ramidus fossils, including a partical skeleton. The problem is that they
> are in extremely fragile condition and require extensive preparation
> before analysis can begin. The investigators also want to recover from
> the ground as much as possible of the skeleton before saying anything
> about what its anatomy suggests about its mode of locomotion, etc. The
> last time I heard, they did not anticipate announcing the results of their
> analysis of the bones until 1998 at the earliest. In the meantime, they
> aren't talking. James Shreeve

First White claims it to be Australopithecus and then backpedals and
calls it Ardipithecus. Why? Because even he wasn't sure of its
affliation. In his lust for funding and publicity he jumped the gun and
had to do damage control. Now in the same vein, somehow Discover is
conned into running that crap about the end of the savanna hypothesis.
One fossil cannot put a theory to rest.
Even if ramidus is shown to be marginally bipedal it doesn't give
unambiguous proof of its affinity to any homind lineage. It is known
that evolution is experimental and branching. Tetrapods experimented with
limb placement before they took that final step out of the big pond. Why
is it that bipedality arose only once and that Tim White was just lucky
enough to find the earliest specimen to show this monumental feat! Bunk
again! It is more likely that as the transition to drier temperatures and
more open grassland began, many primates were beginning to experiment
with other forms of locomotion as their resources changed along with
availability. Bipedality would most certainly be one of those
experiments and Ramidus may be just another evolutionary dead end.
A flaw in the current paleoanthropological thinking is the tendency to
make our own evolution just a little more linear that it would ever be.
Maybe it is because subconsciously we still wnat to think that we are
somehow different than other animals. But that I am sure is not the case.
What I do know for sure is that the savanna theory is far form
fact I think it is just beginning to kick up its heels. It is finally
doing what a good hypothesis sould do and that is to gnerate contrivery
and move science forward. It is time for the crusty old timers in the
field of paleoanthroplogy to step aside and let some new blood in with
new ideas new techniques. Even the dinosaus new when to cash in their
evolutionary chips guys!