repetition and redundancy

Alex Duncan (
14 Nov 1995 14:57:26 GMT

In article <> Paul Crowley, writes:

>> like the answers? Let me summarize something for you: secondary
>> altriciality and "not climbing trees at night" were not issues for the
>> earliest bipeds, and thus not issues that we need to deal with when we're
>> thinking about the origin of bipedalism. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

>You make my point for me, Alex. Good science does not come from
>shutting your eyes to inconvenient problems.

Contrary to what you suggest, no one is shutting their eyes to anything.
The birth canal of australopithecus was quite large relative to body
size, indicating that infants could have been born w/ relatively large
heads/brains at no great stress to the mother. There is NO reason to
suspect that australopithecine infants were born in any less advanced
state than modern chimp infants. There is NO EVIDENCE that indicates
that australopithecine infants were anywhere near as altricial as human
infants. The earliest good evidence for human-like altriciality doesn't
appear until H. erectus.

There is also abundant evidence that australopithecines were capable
tree-climbers. I've been over it before, and am not going to trouble
myself to do it again.

Altriciality and absence of tree-climbing ability are not "inconvenient
problems." These are issues that have been studied intensively. They do
not impact our ideas about the adaptations of the earliest hominids for
the reasons I stated above. Good science does not come from shutting
your eyes to inconvenient evidence. It is unfortunate that your ideas
are contradicted by what we know about early hominids from the fossil
record, but they are. Repeating baseless statements over and over again
won't make them any more relevant.

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086