Macintosh in computing cluster (
Wed, 25 May 1994 19:28:24 -0500

In article <>, (J.
Boyd Bruce III) wrote:

> Patrick H. Adkins ( wrote:
> : I recall reading some years ago that evidence of cannibalism was
> : associated with H. erecti finds: the enlargement of the opening
> : where the neck joins the skull, to allow access to the brain.

Sorry, I don't mean to be nit-picking but 'erecti' is not the plural of
'erectus'. Or rather, the Latin name of a species or genus is already both
singular and plural and cannot be altered. The same goes for those out
there who try to refer to one human as a Homo sapien. Sorry, can't do it.
> : Can anyone tell me what the present tihnking is on this topic?
> : Is this evidence still considered valid?
> Last I herd, this was still quite valid. I am a heretic though, because I
> still beleive cannibalism was in part responsible for the unnatural
> evolution of the species. I'll now get flamed by some young
> whippersnapper . . .

Hmmm, sounds like me. And since you explicitly asked for a flame . . .

>. . . who's professor is politically correctly informing his
> students that for no good reason, man climbed out of the safety of the
> trees to wander the savannah just because he could see over tall grasses.
> There, I did it myself, so don't bother. BTW, cannibalism has been
> associated with every transitional culture: Hunter/gatherer to
> Pastural/Agrocultural. The rise of civilization seems to follow the rise
> of cannibalism. IMHO, eat a a city. Aint organized religion
> wonderous?
> Boyd

Fistly, what is the "unnatural evolution" of the species? Secondly, there
are a few dozen different theories as to why hominids became bipedal. I
too am unsatisfied with the 'see over the grass' theory, but I fail to see
why it is "politically correct". You can take your pick as to which
bipedalism theory you like, but the 'walk upright so you can eat other
people' theory has to rank pretty low on most anthropologists' lists.
Thirdly, the evidence is scanty for any cannibalism prior to Homo sapiens,
and almost nonexistent prior to H. erectus. So there is no reason to
connect cannibalism with bipedalism.

Furthermore, I really don't think cannibalism has been associated with
*every* transitional culture. There is a very recent book in which the
author debunks almost every ethnographic report of cannibalism.
Unfortunately, the name escapes me. anyone?

Back to the original question posed by P.H. Adkins: was H. erectus
cannibalistic? The widening of the foramen magnum (the hole from the neck
to the skull) has been alternatively explained as due to gnawing by hyenas.
The author of a popular college textbook (R.Klein, _Human Career_)
believes this to be the more probable explanation. There is evidence for
defleshing of the skull in H.sapiens and H.neanderthalensis. But people
deflesh bones for many reasons, such as ritual, mummification, cannibalism,
etc. T.D. White discusses possible cases of cannibalism in the fossil
record in a few different articles, which would be a good place to begin

My point: I'm not saying cannibalism never occured, but I do not believe
that it has been such a large impetus in our evolution-- both biologically
and culturally as J.B.Boyd III would have you believe with his
anthropophagocentric version of human evolution.

> : Thanks in advance for any information you can offer.
> : ---
> : SLMR 2.1a Just say no to Big Government.
> :
Michael Seaman

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