Re: Morgan and creationists

Paul Crowley (
Sat, 13 Jul 96 20:32:12 GMT

In article <> "Elaine Morgan" writes:

> Harry Erwin wrote:
> > 1. I rule out intertidal foraging because that is usually associated with
> > shell middens. We find those going back perhaps 100,000 years in Africa
> > and 60,000 years in New Guinea, but no further.
> It is only associated with shell middens in species which have a home
> base to return to or have some reson to collect the shellfish all in
> all one place rather than eating them where they are found one at a time.
> Have you any reason to suppose that australopithecines ever used home
> bases or collected food?

An australopithecine tribe that had shellfish as a substantial part of
its diet would have needed a good supply of fresh water. Springs and
streams are always relatively limited along a littoral. Further, a
secure nocturnal refuge would have been essential. The availability
of appropriate sites would have been the main limiting factor on the
population. They would have been fought over and held fiercely. This
would have lead to an intensification of the social forms of behaviour
that we see in chimps and it's probable that a lion-like social
structure would have been adopted with males defending the territorial
side of the location while females foraged for food (often offshore).

So home bases were highly probable. Also shellfish must be about the
most compact and portable forms of early hominid food. A day's supply
for a family can be collected by one person in an hour or so. The
main difficulty was most likely in the travelling or swimming to the
shellfish beds. Small infants, or other young, could be a serious
impediment in such activity. Co-operation between females, or between
monogamous parents, for child care would have become necessary at some

Chimps usually mix any meat they get with leaves; early hominids could
have had the same habit. Washing a salty diet down with fresh water
would also have been desirable.

So, I'd say that the use of middens started early. Has anyone looked
for them in the Afar?