Re: DISCOVER/Neanderthal/Homo Sap.

Erin Miller (
4 Sep 1995 11:32:53 -0500

In article <>,
H. M. Hubey <> wrote:
> (Erin Miller) writes:
>>>Are these differences as large as the differences between, say
>>>a dachshund and an Afghan Hound, or between a bulldog and a
>>>Kangal, or a chiuaua and a Great Dane ?
>>They are "different" differences. Dogs have been rapidly and artificially
>>bred to create extreme differences,
>"rapid" and "artifially bred" yes, but so what? Is it or is it
>not the laws of genetics at work?
>>at the same time as intentionally
>>keeping them "breedable."
>This I find difficult to comprehend. Would dogs be dogs if they
>could not breed?

EXACTLY. In a natural situation, if you had a species, say generic "dog"
which for whatever reason developed into two different physical extremes,
then no, they probably *would not* interbreed. THe fact that human
intervention has bred for the extremes, at the same time as keeping the
variations breedable is not "normal."
Are they they "laws of genetics" yes, but ones which would never happen
in a 'natural' setting. You seem to not want to believe this, that is
your choice, I just hope you are at least attempting to base that choice
from educating yourself on the material rather than assuming "of course
that is the way it must be."

>Also in dogs, the skeletal differences are
>>largely (tho not 100%) of the skull. When you look at the postcranial
>>skeleton of a Great Dane vs. a Yorkie, the differences are largely of size
>>and not much else.
>So? What about Neandertal and Cro-magnon? Except for small bump
>on the chin (hard to assign any survival value to it) and the
>teeth which could also be simply small differences due to separation
>over hundreds of thousands of years, the differences are still small.

That shows your extreme ignorance of the material. If you really think
that the differences are only "a small bump on the chin ... and the teeth"
then there is no point in continuing this debate. If that were the only
difference, then the subject would hardly be as much a topic of debate in
the academic community as it is.

>Would you confuse them with dog bones, elephant bones, or even
>gorilla bones?

But would you confuse the bones of a rottie with a boxer? That is what we
were discussing earlier, and that is the issue. The answer is almost
definately yes. Yet scientists are easily able to tell the difference
between a "modern human" and a "neandertal." Your arguments make no sense
when you start by trying to comare variations within a breed (dogs) with
what may be similar variation within one species, or two species within
the same genus (humans/neandertals) and then throw in elephants or
gorillas with it. I don't see how that fits in with your agument. Just
because there exist species that don't interbreed that are widely
different in their skeletons (elephants, dogs, gorillas) that doesn't mean
there aren't species that don't interbreed that are very similar. To
me, this doesn't follow your earlier argument. If I missed something,
please explain.

>> Can most people tell the difference between the skeletons of a common
>>marmoset, a lion tamarin, and a cotton-top tamarin? The skeletal
>so then what you've managed to prove is that there's not much
>of a point to wondering about interbreeding capability because
>of the way skeletons look . Then there must be another method
>of attack that might yield clues.
>And what might that be?

Isn't that what we'd all like to know? (maybe genetics, but I don't know
much about using DNA for that purpose).

So, scientists do their *best* with what they have, but that is the reason
for the difference between "lumpers" and "splitters." There is no way, at
the moment, to know, so people just make their best educated guesses.
Sometimes those guesses seem utterly stupid to someone who is not familiar
with much of the -- not just the popular -- literature.


"On the internet nobody knows you're a dog ...
but damn if everyone won't know what your cat looks like." -fatz

Erin Miller
University of Chicago / Anthropology Department /