Re: Paleoanthropologists and Morphology

Susan S. Chin (
Mon, 15 Jul 1996 06:14:59 GMT

Promethius ( wrote:
: I find Hollys caution concerning morphology well founded. It is of
: incalcuable importance and is perhaps the first thing we paleos' do when
: finding a new discovery. Morphology alone, however, without other
: relavant data can easily lead one down many a dubious hypothetical path.
: From what I've read about A. ramidus the morphilogical material available
: is, in any case, a bit thin. In rememberance of ramapithicus theory, I'll
: wait and see.
: Chet

In all fairness to today's researchers, we've come a long ways since
"Ramapithecus." What I was referring to in my original post was a seeming
lack of regard for the importance of morphology as the basis of any long
term study of hominid fossils. Other lines of evidence, geology,
paleoecology, comparative anatomy (with living apes) are used implicitly.
I don't think any credible Paleoanthropologist today would rely solely on
morphology (a la "Ramapithecus") in assessing a fossils' ancestry.
But we can't dismiss the role morphology plays in describing
and diagnosing the evolutionary relationships of a new fossil species.
Promising new techniques mentioned in earlier posts would be welcomed I'm
sure, but they will never take the place of a good morphological
assessment of fossils either.

I think we're basically thinking along the same lines, but approaching
it from different points of emphasis.

Regarding the ramidus finds, there is substantially more than there
was of "Ramapithecus." For one they have postcranial remains as well. The
only thing thin about ramidus it seems, is the enamel. Now that's
something interesting.