Re: Predation

J. Moore (
Sun, 5 Nov 95 12:12:00 -0500

Tk> As far as this crocodile thing is concerned, I hope Jim Moore won't mind
Tk> if we laid it to rest.

I can understand your reluctance, common to all AATers, to come to
grips with the problem of predation, a problem that all theories
of human evolution must address.

Tk> Jim keeps insisting that crocs don't respond to threat displays.

It is a fact that A) you generally don't see the crocodile until
it attacks, and B) once they have attacked, they do not respond at
all well to threats and counter-attacks. I posted accounts from
a study of actual attacks in Africa on modern humans by Nile
crocodiles demonstrating this fact. In these accounts victims
were taken despite able-bodied people coming to their aid and
counter-attacking the crocodile. These crocodiles did not let go
despite being "repeatedly stabbed with spears or knives, beaten
with sticks, pelted with stones, or had sticks rammed down their
gullets in order to prise the human victims from their jaws...but
to no avail" (Poole et al. 1989:177, in *Crocodiles and Alligators*
Facts on File: New York and Oxford).

Tk> pride of lions is not going to be scared off to easily by a band of
Tk> medium sized apes, just because a few of the bigger males are waving
Tk> some sticks in the air. Threat displays are usually done by the bigger
Tk> males, and the result is that predators don't attack the bigger males,
Tk> but instead attack the old/weak/young. Isn't that simple enough jim?

It's simple, all right, but like so many simple claims, it is not
supported by evidence. In fact, accounts of chimpanzees harassing
lions exist, and females with and without accompanying youngsters
have been involved. Although even without males present, female
chimpanzees harass lions and leopards, it is also likely that
males would often be involved in such displays.

Now, as I have pointed out many many times in the past, it is
certain that some early hominids would be killed by land predators,
just as some chimpanzees are. But we see that chimpanzees survive
nevertheless, and so prove that survival in a land environment can
be done. This provides us with a model for how early hominids
could have done so. We see *no remotely appropriate model* in an
aquatic environment -- nothing with remotely similar attributes to
early hominids. Nothing.

Couple that with the massive numbers of crocodiles, and the manner
in which they mass, as contrasted to the far more spread-out
lifestyle of land-based predators, and you see the situation as
one in which the danger from land predators is far easier to deal
with. I would suggest that is why we see these appropriate models
only on land.

Tk> I think we all know that you are not likely to find a crocodile
Tk> swimming around in the open ocean.

Regarding Indopacific crocodiles (don't you remember this?):
"The ability of this species to survive in the open ocean has enabled
it to reach, and sometimes colonize, many small islands such as the
Cocos Islands (nearly 1,000 kilometers from land) and the New Hebrides.
Stories of these crocodiles out in the open ocean abound and some
individuals have been seen with pelagic barnacles attached to
their scales" (Ross and Magnuson 1989:68, in *Crocodiles and Alligators*
Facts on File: New York and Oxford).

Nile crocodiles are also found on beaches, lagoons, and mangrove
swamps, and do quite well in saltwater, even if it isn't their
primary habitat. They don't simply "tolerate" it, they can live
in it indefinitely.

Tk> So, there are places where crocodiles aren't. And judging from these two
Tk> catagories, mountain lakes and ocean shorelines, both these environments
Tk> would be suitable to an aquatic ape. And there are plenty of areas in
Tk> Africa that fit these two catagories.
Tk> So give it a break Jim.
Tk> Troy Kelley

So I take it your new stance is simply that these purported
aquatic hominids must have inhabited places where crocodiles did
not exist -- this leaves out shorelines and mangroves, and in fact
it simply eliminates from consideration all the places Morgan has
suggested as habitat. There's also the little problem of hair loss
and swimming speed, but I'll be bringing that up again in a few days.

Jim Moore (

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