Re: The straw man.

Thomas Clarke (
17 Nov 1995 14:17:48 GMT

In article <47qhj6$> writes:
> In article <47qcd3$> Thomas Clarke,
> writes:

> Unfortunately, falsification is not so powerful a term in the historical
> sciences. For example, as far as some people are concerned, the idea
> that A. afarensis spent any time in the trees has been falsified. For
> others, the idea that A. afarensis was restricted to terrestrial
> locomotion has been falsified. There is a basic disagreement about the
> significance of the evidence at hand.

> I am not absolutely opposed to the AAH.

I urge you to keep an open mind then, might not part of A. afarensis'
behavior have involved some wading?

<Remainder of very civilized comments on AAT for which I am greatly
appreciative truncated>

> >By the way, what's the official PA line on the so-called
> >"West Side Story" - hominid, pongid speciation caused by geographic
> >isolation of the African Rift?

<Alex Duncan generally agrees that isolation by the Rift may have
played a role>

> ... I suspect
> that the true ranges of the earliest hominids were much broader
> geographically. The rift valley provides us with a very small window on
> what was really going on.

I was thinking this morning as I drove in, and wondered if anyone
had ever done statistical analysis of fossil frequencies. Along with
the homind remains lots of other fossils are found in Laetoli, Turkana etc.
and I beleive they are cataloged etc. From the paleo-environment
you could infer something about the density of antelopes or whatever and
compare that to the number of antelope fossiles found. Then with
much waving of the hands you could come up with an estimate of
fossils found per unit density of animal. Turn this around using
hominid fossils and you get a density of hominids on the ground.
If the density is way too low, then you could conclude that the
main population of hominids was elsewhere and thay these fossils
were that of just some individuals out foraging or whatever.

Does anyone do analyses like this?

Tom Clarke