Re: Savannah strawman

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. (
3 Jul 1996 14:04:00 GMT

Mike Muller <> wrote:

> Bunk!

There seems to be a lot of that flying around, viz.:

> 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.

The reason has to do with the slow acceptance of hominid paleontologists
for the phylogenetic method of classification (even slower than dinosaur
paleontologists, and THAT'S saying something...). If Ardipithecus is
outside of the clade combining Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Homo,
then it can't (or shouldn't) be included in any of those member genera.

Thus, it needed a new name.

Australopithecus is no longer a grade.

> 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!

I know some dinosaurs and pterosaurs, Lepticidium, a couple of rauisuchians,
etc. who would argue the case of multiple origins of bipedality for you!

> 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.

Yep. That is almost certainly the reason Ardy was first called
Australopithecus ramidus. I don't know for certain, but I suspect
B. Wood or someone similar sent White email/a letter/a phone call and
suggested naming it a new genus.

>Even the dinosaus knew when to cash in their evolutionary chips guys!

9000 extant species, and you think they've cashed in their evolutionary
chips? Yeah, right...