Re: Bipedalism and theorizing... was Re: Morgan and creationists

Wallace Neslund (
Fri, 19 Jul 1996 22:42:49 -0700

Elaine Morgan wrote:
> The supporting is
> > done by the mother holding the infant. While nursing, the mother would sit down and hold the
> > infant up to her breast.
> Yes, and as it grows bigger,holding it there can get very tiring. Mothers sit
> (or used to) on low "nursing chairs" so that the baby can lie down on
> her lap, which takes the weight. Or she sits in an armchair with a
> cushion behind the baby's head. In the wild she might sit or squat
> cross legged on the ground with the baby lying in her lap. If she
> were shaped like a chimp, a baby with a great heavy head and the inertia
> of a young baby compared to a young chimp would find its mouth was
> nowhere near the nipple. It can't even hold its head up. It's got
> no fur to climg to. If Mohammed can't go to the mountain then the
> mountain must go to Mohamed; more comfortable for both of them if the
> nipple starts a bit lower and is not so tightly fastened to the chest
> so it's as it were a bit extensible. This extensibility leaves room
> inside the skin which in the virginal and well-nourished may be filled up
> with adipose tissue. May even become an epigamic feature eventually,
> as anything might which is eloquent of youth and gender.
> But to say it originally evolved to allure males is a misconception.
> Males of all species are attracted to the females of their species
> the way they are. The male which passes on its genes is the male which
> likes what it sees, not the one that roams around looking for an
> entirely new shape, as if it was a Paris designer
> How else would the wart hog have survived so long?

The point of my original post was exactly that, that breast evolved as an adaptation to
protect the developing head and brain of the infant, NOT as any sexual selection

> The other thing which gets overlooked is that in primitive tribes
> and malnourished
> ones and almost certainl;y in our earliest ancestors the breast is/was
> not the luscious hemisphere beloved of Playboy. It was a skinny thing.
> There have been plenty of famine pictures showing kids holding onto
> it and wondering why it doesn't work any more. In stone age people this is common except in primipara mothers.
> If suckling goes on for years you don't easily recover that hemisphere.

How can you compare famine stricken Hss today with our Homo ancesters? If all the Homo
ancestors were famine stricken, there would be a very small survival rate. Our primate
relatives such as Pan do not live in constant state of famine, but balance their lives
with nature. The massive famines of today are due in large part to massive overpopulation
of the habitat.

> This is probably true in all primates, Chimps and Hss. I would
> > imagine that an infant holding onto a breast to support itself would be difficult for the
> > infant and painful for the mother.
> >
> >The whole point is that chimp babies do not need to hold on to the
> breasts or the nipple to keep their head in the right position.
> They can cling on to their mother's fur. Ours can't.

But the whole point of the original post was that the breast developed to cusion the head
of the infant while the mother was moving and carrying the infant. The actual method of
feeding is not pertinant unless it shows an advantage the infant/mother group gained by
larger breasts. If the mother is holding an infant in a stationary position, she can use
two hands and arms, or crouch and brace the infant against her leg. The baby would not
need to hold up its head at all, the mother does the holding. IMHO there is an advantage
to larger breasts as shock absorbers to cusion the soft skull holding the rapidly
developing infant brain. This is an advantage incurred by moving, not by staying still.

> I feel like I'm the only one on this thread that's ever fed babies.
> Elaine

No, I've fed my daughter, but I used a bottle, and I stood or sat still when I did it.
When I carried her, I carefully cushioned her head. I've seen wobily baby heads up close
and personal.


God knows, I don't. - Thomas Aquinas

He's so dumb, he not only doesn't know anything,
He doesn't suspect anything. - unknown