Re: On the importance of sticks.

Peter Mitchison (
Fri, 17 Mar 1995 02:25:20 +0000

In article: <3jrr42$> (JoeBeaver) writes:
> Peter Mitchison writes:
> >Poking a stick into the eye of an uncooperative predator requires a
> >certain amount of co-ordination (but not much strength). Homo Sapiens
> >may be able to do it but could our proto-hominid?
> I found your hypothesis quite interesting. I tend to think that
> there's a little more involved in early hominid evolution, but it seems
> reasonable that what you propose could have had an impact.
> The point I would like to make is that the coordination required
> might not have been quite as extensive as you imply. I feel that actually
> poking an animal in the eye (while it is attacking or preparing to do so)
> would probably be quite difficult, even with practice. On the other hand,
> a stick/small branch which still retained some of its subsidiary
> protrusions (particularly where they had broken off and left sharp points)
> could be scraped/slashed across the head and have a much better chance of
> causing pain or damage to the eye. For example, have you ever followed


> Joseph Beaver

I am sure that you are right Joseph. I had not intended to be quite so
specific in my description of the use of sticks for defence. The thought
of poking a big cat in the eye is quite dramatic though, and I could not
resist it.

There is another dimension to the argument that I have not mentioned before.
Presumably the proto-hominids went about in troops just as most other primates
do. Armed with sticks and formed into a tight group they could have created
a sort of porcupine defence. The sight of a dozen apes waving sticks and
screaming like football supporters might have been quite impressive.

Peter Mitchison EMail

We have all of the ingredients, we just don't know what we are cooking. Douglas Adams.