Re: Becoming altricial/bipedal

Alex Duncan (
4 Oct 1995 12:14:43 GMT

In article <> Paul Crowley, writes:

>> >Consequently transitional hominids could not possibly have been living
>> >in trees, nor could they have had any significant contact with them.
>> >A forest or mosaic environment must be ruled out.
>> Most paleoanthropologists (who have actually studied the material in
>> question) would disagree quite strongly with you on this point.
>I'm sorry, but they are wrong. The history of science is very strange
>and it's often the case that the points that seem most obvious (when
>viewed with 20:20 hindsight) are the ones that get overlooked by the
>professionals. This is one such case, and it only someone as ignorant
>and as dumb as myself who could have seen it.
You're really inviting abuse here, but I'll refrain.

Please explain to me how YOU know that the earliest hominids didn't climb
trees, and that those of us who actually study the material for a living
are wrong. It is somewhat disingenious for you to bring up a discussion
of science in the same post as your statements above.

>> The fact
>> that most of the earliest hominids are found in depositional contexts
>> that indicate forested or mosaic environments also contributes to the
>> sense that you don't know what you're talking about.
>You see what you expect to see. I'm sure (although I have no evidence)
>that those depositional contexts are packed full of lacustrine indications
>and that savannah data is virtually absent.

It's certainly true that one's preconceptions can impact one's
interpretation of the data. The preconception that most
paleoanthropologists have been working with until recently has been that
hominids are a savanna phenomenon. You might try actually reading some
of the relevant material. I'm sure that with your incisive intellect you
could immediately develop hypotheses that eluded the professional

>> >Such creatures would be lucky to survive a single night on the ground
>> >in the open. Some safe refuge must be proposed.
>> Trees? Would a PRIMATE climb a tree? Nah.....
>You're a primate. Here's an experiment: Take your extended family with
>wife, grandparents, cousins, several small children and newborn infants
>and spend a night in a tree. You must all be naked and have nothing
>artificial. Imagine it every night, for twelve cold, dark hours, while
>keeping alert for leopards. Imagine trying to spend your days finding
>food for all of them while enduring such nights.

Whether or not I can do it is irrelevant to the discussion. What is
relevant is whether or not the earliest hominids could do it. Other than
your unsupported claim that the earliest hominids couldn't climb trees,
you have provided no data to support your assertions.

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