Hominid diversity or lack thereof...Re: First Family and AA

J. Moore (j#d#.moore@canrem.com)
Sun, 15 Oct 95 10:04:00 -0500

Ga> You've actually asked a very interesting question - why is Hominidae not
Ga> more diverse? Unfortunately, none of the hypotheses we are arguing here
Ga> addresses this issue.

I'd say the general feeling is that hominids had a strong tendency
to be generalists, in diet especially, and that this tendency was
strengthened by the development of sharpened stone tools (probably
bone and horn tools as well, but they suffer the same problems as
all organic tools compared to stone), and continued to be
strengthened by communication skills and such. Physical
differences became less critical in most situations, although
there were, and are, some physical diffs which seem to be
regional adaptations. Neandertals are the most obvious case of
this after 1 mya. This generalist tendency would make a broader
and broader niche available to any given hominid, to the point
that competitive exclusion and the process of reabsorption of
incipient diverging populations would tend to meld hominids into a
reasonably cohesive bunch. ;-)

I can think of one interesting bit of comparative data, though,
that only partially fits this, as far as I can see off the cuff;
it has to do with those notorious bipeds you mention below, birds.

Ga> True, forest bipeds (macropodids) are diverse,
Ga> but so are semiaquatic bipeds. Ever look at a field guide to birds?
Ga> Shorebirds are extremely diverse.

Oddly (perhaps) there seems to be only one large flightless bird
(when they exist at all) for every dry plain. Ostriches, emus,
and rheas. I certainly wouldn't think of them as generalists, but
they do demonstrate the principle of competitive exclusion.

Jim Moore (j#d#.moore@canrem.com)

* Q-Blue 2.0 *