Re: tree-climbing hominids

Alex Duncan (
20 Oct 1995 00:55:48 GMT

In article <>
David Froehlich, writes:

>Babbon mothers are saddled with an infant yet the group dynamics mean
>that the female is safe. This is a behavoiral response to a problem.
>Are you telling me that you can discern hominid behavoir of 5 million
>years ago? Because you are certainly assuming you know how these
>organisms dealt with their environment. (If I know this is an
>insurmountable problem then the scenario that proposes it must be wrong
>and thus AAS must be correct). I do not buy that bipedality presented
>insurmountable problems that behavoiral modifications could not have
>dealt with (remember these are very smart apes). Let me utilize a
>recently quite common AAS arguement, "prove me wrong".

Hey Dave, it's "babbone", not "babbon".

But seriously...

Dave's point is extremely important. All the AAH proponents (when trying
to tear down the strawman savanna model) assume that there must have been
a lot of lone (and strictly terrestrial) females wandering around in the
savanna (couldn't go anywhere else) carrying helpless infants. They note
(correctly) that this would have made them prime prey for lions,
leopards, and probably grasshopper mice. However, the scenario is
completely unreasonable, and has never been part of paleoanthropological
ideas. Leaving aside for the moment the problematic assumptions that the
female was confined to the terrestrial substrate, and that she was
somehow confined to the savanna ... let's examine the "lone" assumption.

Humans are by far the most social primates. Not only do humans have
complex and long lasting family bonds, with families that are EXTENDED
compared to those of any other primates, but humans also have large
"surrogate families", or networks of friends with whom they participate
in social interactions.

When we look at our closest ancestors, the gorillas and chimps, we see
that differences in social relationships are differences of degree, and
not of kind. Alloparenting behavior is common. Group behaviors that
enhance the likelihood of survival of newborns are common.

Given that complex social behaviors are common in humans, chimps and
gorillas, it seems likely that they were also present in
australopithecines. The suggestion that there were lots of lone aust.
females wandering around in open country carrying offspring is ludicrous.

And they wonder why we keep suggesting they actually read something.

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