Re: tree-climbing hominids

Bill Burnett (
Thu, 2 Nov 1995 10:28:46

In article <46t9fh$> (Phil Nicholls) writes:

> (H. M. Hubey) graced us with the following

>>chris brochu <> writes:
>>>Nope, nope, nope. A full rebuttal goes beyond the scope of
>>>sci.anthro.paleo, but perhaps I should ask: How do you define "higher up
>>>the evolutionary scale?"

>>Brain mass divided by body mass. On this scale bacteria and
>>viruses are zero. That puts us at the top.

>Therefore, we are "higher up" based on a criteria that has been
>specifically selected to put us on top. Does the phrase "begging the
>question" mean anything to you?

Well said. You can make anything you like the 'most advanced' or 'highest'
organism, depending on your criterion. Brain size? Spare me. The zeros were
here long before and will be here long after we're just another fossil bed,
how is that a worse criterion for 'advancement'? Sounds pretty close to
perfection if you ask me.

The whole concept of 'advancement' suggests direction and an end point, a
perfect (Divine?) state. Evolution requires no direction to occur, it needs
no goal. Any organism that is well adapted to its environment is as worthy of
the label 'highly evolved' as any other. Heck, we all started at the same
time... :-) This kind of thinking (i.e. an evolutionary heirarchy) stems from
the concept of an evolutionary 'ladder' which falls apart as soon as you stop
thinking of extant species as descended from one another, but rather from
common ancestors. Chimps are no lower than us, they just went in a different
direction. The same applies to every node in every phylogeny.

Mark, if you need to be at the top you can put yourself there if it makes you
happier, I don't have my copy of Douglas Adams' 'So long and thanks for all
the fish' to hand but for those in the know the dolphins were right.