Re: Speciation - how do you know?

David Sierra (
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 21:17:31 -0500

On Fri, 27 Sep 1996, Paul Crowley wrote:
> Thanks for all the extra data, but I don't think it helps.
> > Compare those with the predatory strategies of cats, sabre-tooths, bears,
> > and dogs, and you see evidence for a short-range ambush hunter that
> > specialized on large prey. In some ways, an ecological vicar of a bear or
> > sabre-toothed cat.
> Ambush hunters rely on (1) a short and intense burst of high speed
> and (2) overwhelming power or weaponry. They can't afford the risk
> of injury and either kill quickly or not at all.
> Neanderthals had neither (1) nor (2). Even if they managed to
> surprise a quadruped, there is no way they could have caught it or
> held it down. If it felt threatened (IMO somewhat unlikely) it
> would be off like a shot. And, unless it was small, they could not
> have killed it quickly. (Perhaps you could suggest how they might
> kill a large bovid quickly.) Furthermore, the risk of injury to
> the hominid would have been unacceptably high. A upright biped is
> extraordinarily vulnerable. One charge by a quadruped is likely
> to break its bones.
> > You need some working hypotheses. Neanderthals are gone, so to
> > reconstruct their behavior, you have to ask questions of their fossils.
> There are, in effect, no working hypotheses about major aspects of
> human anatomy - the origins of bipedalism, nakedness or sweating.
> Why insist on one here? It's a particularly bad one, and IMHO
> the fossil evidence is strongly *against* it. The evidence for
> hunting by any hominid before 100 Kya is weak. Neanderthals are
> about the least likely of the hominids to have engaged in it. The
> speculation derives almost entirely from Victorian imaginations.

Why do I get the feelling this is not going to be reconciled?

Some of us feel strongly H.n. were capable (not necessaraly _did_ on a
regular basis, but certainly had the capacity if needed) of such feats.
Others feel just as strongly that the capacity was notably lacking.

Can we just agree to disagree?