Re: Alex's gibbon-like CA

David Froehlich (
Mon, 13 Nov 1995 14:33:36 -0600

On Sun, 12 Nov 1995, Paul Crowley wrote:

> It's one way to consider the matter. That's all. One way. You
> should also try a few others: like "What special niche could the
> protohominids have occupied?"

Why must it have been a special niche? How would you test this?

> or "What benefits could justify the
> enormous costs of becoming secondarily altricial?"

We have been over this before, the real question you need to answer
before you could ask this question is "are there increased costs?" You
cannot assume there are costs at the outset (or at least extreme costs).
Just because you cannot think of a manner in which this could have
occured doesn't mean that it is impossible.

> or "How could
> these creatures survive without climbing trees at night?"

Once again you assume at the outset that they could not climb trees and
therefore it must be a problem (I can climb trees does this make me the
common ancestor of humans? I think not.) How would you test such questions?

> Why are these mundane questions ignored by the PA community? That
> is what I find so deeply puzzling. Why do you all stick in that
> ghastly rut of looking at how and when chimps or gibbons stand?
> It's been worked to death.

Obviously it hasn't been worked to death if they have not convinced you.
We can actually observe the behavoir of chimps and gibbons. This is not
possible for australopithecines. Can you suggest a better way to
investigate protohominid behavoir other than to look at the common
ancestor? This is testable. Scenarios about protohominid behavoir is
not (the only thing we can test is whether or not presumed activities
were within the possible range of the morphology (e.g., A. afarensis
shoulder girdle with more rotation thus perhaps more movement, more

> Ain't you got no imagination?

Imagination is not the problem, testability and predictive power of
hypotheses is the problem. If you want imagination I suggest you try
some good fiction (at least that stuff that is explicit about its
imagination, unlike AAS).

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