Re: Crowley posts again

Phil Nicholls (
Sat, 18 Nov 1995 16:09:20 GMT

Alex Duncan <> responds to Paul who is quoting
Jim Moore who is supposed to be quoting me::

>>> > > - when hands are need to carry food.
>>> > > - to obtain a better view of the surrounding area.
>>> > > - jumping across small brooks
>>> > > - treat displays.
>>> > > - when watching an unusual part of the surroundings
>>> > > - when locating another member of the group
>>> > > - greeting and courtship displays.
>>> The fact that Paul has produced this as his list leads to the suspicion
>>> that, like most of the supporters of the AAT, he hasn't read much in the
>>> way of "standard" paleoanthropology, and thus has no concrete idea what
>>> it is that he's arguing against.
>>It seems that Alex disapproves of "standard" paleoanthropology when it
>>is quoted, without alteration, directly at him. It must be "standard"
>>PA that "thus has no concrete idea of what it is . ."

>Apologies then to Jim Moore and Phil Nichols, but this list is a flawed
>oversimplification of the ideas put forward to account for the origin of
>bipedalism. Again, if Paul were more (even vaguely...?) familiar with
>the literature, he would know this.

The list above is NOT a list of ideas accounting for the origin of
bipedalism. It is instead a list of situations during which
chimpanzees have been observed walking bipedally (and yes, that was
threat displays, not "treat" displays.)

I have in fact been very careful not to attempt to provide
oversimplified reviews of some of the ideas put forth to account for
the origin of bipedalism. For example, in my response to Troy Kelly
I listed articles that he could read for such explanations.

The fact that neither Paul or Troy (or Mark) has bothered to review
these articles is very telling.

I think it is wonderful that people are interested in
paleoanthropology and human evolution. I don't believe you have to be
a paleoanthropologist to participate or have an opinion. What sets me
off is when people make comments like "call the conventional theories
are crap (I almost wrote "all wet" but caught myself at the last
moment)" without having first read the articles that describe those

My wife does something interesting when she subscribes to a magazine.
She uses a different middle initial with each magazine. When she gets
junk mail she can then tell who sold her name. Similarly, when folks
start to talk about what's wrong with paleoanthropology and they go on
and on about the "savannah theory" I know they have never read any
conventional paleoanthropology and are relying on _The Aquatic Ape_ or
_Scars of Evolution_. This is not Elaine's fault, it's just


>>> >It does not know how our hominid ancestors survived two billion freezing
>>> nights >on the African heartland, surrounded by lions, leopards and hyenas.
>>> These issues have been discussed repeatedly in s.a.p. Somehow the fact
>>> that other primates are capable of doing exactly what Paul describes
>>> above is not considered to be relevant.
>>All other primates have quite specific adaptions and behaviour for
>>obtaining safety at night - in particular four grasping limbs. Their
>>infants also have four grasping limbs. So the chimp mother/infant
>>dyad can make a nest in the branches where two trees meet and they
>>can all hold on and get a good night's sleep.
>>The hominid mother/infant dyad could *not* do this from at least
>>3.6 mya (Lucy) and probably from 5mya. So where did they spend the
>>nights? - No answer from PA.

>Wrong. There is an answer from PA, but Paul doesn't like it. The
>earliest hominids probably spent their evenings in the trees. They were
>certainly capable of it. I have a lengthy response to Paul's claims
>regarding Dr. Ohman in s.a.p., and urge anyone who wants to see it to go

>>Alex's "retained significant grasping capabilities of the hindlimb"
>>comes from ignoring the Laetoli footprints at 3.5mya and a curious
>>view of Lucy's few footbones. Alex was thoroughly shot down by Dr
>>James Oman of John Hopkins Univ. Medical School

>My "curious view" of the A. afarensis pedal remains is a view that (as
>far as I can tell) is shared by the majority of the people who have ever
>thought about the manner and had an opportunity to examine the casts or
>fossils first hand. Contrary to Paul's suggestion, my view was not based
>upon a view of "Lucy's footbones". Lucy's pedal skeleton consists of an
>astragalus and a proximal pedal phalanx. My views are based upon
>analysis of the AL 333-115 foot (associated metatarsals and proximal
>phalanges), and other metatarsals and phalanges from the Hadar collection.

>>Nevertheless he has now forgotten "that we all have our biases"; his bias
>>has now slipped back into ineluctable fact:
>>> Bipedal feet? Well... the earliest
>>> hominids were bipedal, but they also retained significant grasping
>>> capabilities of the hindlimb, and there are many other indications that
>>> they were capable tree climbers.

>The retention of grasping capacities in the Hadar pedal remains is about
>as close to being "fact" as we can get in functional morphology.

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

Phil Nicholls
"To ask a question you must first know most of the answer"
-Robert Sheckley