Re: Moving Targets

Gerrit Hanenburg (
Sat, 14 Oct 1995 19:57:17 GMT (Thomas Clarke) wrote:

>Ian Tattersal's in his book, "The Fossil Trail", talks about
>the problem with theory. There is precious little evidence but
>we all want to know the story of how man came to be. He argues
>that only cladistic relationships are testable from the data.
>I suppose this means that we should stop arguing about how man
>became bipdeal (drop AAT discussion and all that) until more
>fossils are found.

He also writes(p.169):"When you're out there selling such complicated
narratives,normal scientific testability just isn't issue:how many of your
collegues or others buy your story depends principally on how convincing a
storyteller you are--and on how willing your audience is to believe the
kind of thing you're saying..."

Apparently Elaine Morgan,like Robert Ardrey (African Genesis),is among
those convincing storytellers.

>I cannot resist on observation though (this is usenet). It seems
>like all through the history of paleoanthropology the next fossile
>to be found older than the ones that have been found is the one
>expected to be only partly bipedal, partway between ape and man.
>But evertime a new post cranial fossil is found that gives unambigous
>locomotion evidience, H. Erectus, Lucy. The new find is fully
>bipedal. To an eye uneducated in graduate paleo-A Lucy's pelvis looks
>damn human. I'd put here in genus homo for sure.

>How long will this go on? Now there is only a million or two years
>to account for bipedalism. Will the next fossil found be

Maybe,maybe not.
Stern and Susman write:"Excitement builds for the discovery of specimens
from the 4-6 million year old range.However,we may speculate that in a
representative of the A.afarensis lineage of this time we will not find a
combination of arboreal and bipedal traits,but rather the anatomy of a
generalized ape.The challenge,we submit,may lie in our ability to identify
this ancestor as a hominid".
(The Locomotor Anatomy of Australopithecus afarensis.

I think that is as clear a hint as you can get of what is eventually to be
expected of new fossils and also the problems such fossils may evoke.
Maybe this ape is to be found in the 4-5 myr range,maybe later.
(as yet there is not much information on A.ramidus and A.anamensis,and the
association of the cranial and rather modern looking postcranial material
in A.anamensis is somewhat doubtful)