Re: Morgan; various

David Froehlich (
Thu, 26 Oct 1995 14:07:03 -0500

On Thu, 26 Oct 1995, Elaine Morgan wrote:

> Comments on four odd items. I'll come back to tears again (sigh) later.
> 1. Why didn't the first hominids leave shell-middens? For the same
> reason that sea-otters don't. They don't collect shell-fish; they eat
> them on the spot.

So there is no evidence because it doesn't exist? You assume a hell of a
lot about the behavoir of organisms you cant even find fossils for.

> 3. Chimp bipedalism. Alex, we have had Rodman and McHenru quoted at us
> more than once. Yes, they do indicate that "chimp bipedalism and chimp
> quadrupedalism are about equally energetically efficient". But that
> only applies to their walking, not to their running. Also the paper
> discusses only energy costs, and ignores how much faster they are on
> four legs than on two.

But isn't energy cost one of the "problems" that AAS is trying to
explain? If it doesn't need an explanation then why AAS?

> 4. Pete Vincent. It is interesting that you heard Tobias use the phrase
> "the svannah theory of bipedalism" more than once in his talk. It is
> sad that so many contributors will not believe you because you can't
> give a page number. Tobias's comment that why we became bipedal is "the
> 64 dollar question" is confirmed by Maeve Leakey in the National
> Geographic of September 1995 (page 42) where she says "We do not know
> why they became bipedal".

I can forgive most researchers when they fudge the complexity of their
comments when discussing their science for the general public. I have
even been known to use "dinosaur" for big dead things and "mammal-like
reptile" for synapsids when talking to an uninformed and unsophisticated
audience. Does this mean that I believe these groups are monophyletic?
I think the comment is valid since most researchers will use some form of
intelectual shorthand when discussing things over a beer but they
wouldn't publish the same terminology.

David J. Froehlich Phone: 512-471-6088
Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory Fax: 512-471-5973
J.J. Pickle Research Campus
The University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712