Re: DISCOVER/Neanderthal/Homo Sap.

Erin Miller (
5 Sep 1995 19:17:02 -0500

In article <>,
H. M. Hubey <> wrote:
>On the one hand "natural" evolution (like regression to the mean)
>makes the species more like one another and not less, so that if
>this were to be the rule rather than the exception, we have
>no way of creating "new species" so then evolution takes a dive.

Based on what evidence? On what grounds are you basing that as being the
rule? Two species derived from one, evolving to fill two different niches
will indeed evolve away from each other. Please cite your reasons for
thinking otherwise.

>In fact, we wouldn't even have species differing from one another
>to any degree so that even making them "more like one another" via
>mixing would be pointless to talk about. The only way around this
>is to appeal to isolation where the drift of that particular subpopulation
>can take off onto its own path and differ from the same species in
>other isolated subpopulations.

Sorry, I don't follow this argument at all. Is what you are saying, what
I believe you to be saying, is that speciation generally only happens
because of the reproductive isolation of a group?

>So then the question is whether the Neanderthals and the Africans
>had separated sufficiently to be unable to breed again. Appealing
>to bone shapes is pointless since we couldn't make this method
>give the right answer in the hypotethical case of the dogs.

Again, you are saying the only way for two species to derive from one
common ancestor is thru reproductive isolation?

>Then what alternative reasoning can you give for the no-mixing
>scenario when fossil evidence of transitional types exist?

I don't follow your argument. You believe transitional types to exist, and
therefore intermixing must have occurred, and that is the only
explanation, correct?

>>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.
>Don't be silly. That's what it boils down to. And the stuff about
>bone shapes is dead-end; and the point has already been made
>by others.

Its been made by "others." So, you are not crediting such scientists as
Trinkaus, Smith, Tattersall, Stringer, Mann, Wolpoff, Bar-Yosef, Heim, de
Lumley (2), Mellars, Patte, Stewart, Gamble, Vallois, Vandermeersch, or
Weidenreich as actually, maybe, possibly, having the ability to know that
there are a lot more differences than a "few bumps on the skull" and that
those differences actually have some signficance? And that such people as
these have been for decades arguing over a point that you know to be

Say that someone comes up to you and says "explain to me how you can
believe in human evolution when there is no evidence for it?"

You reply "well what about all the transitional fossils they have found,
like the australopiths and the early hominids?"

and they reply "oh those are just insignificant monkey bones that some
scientists are making a big deal about. They really are bogus and have no
use. So explain to me how you can believe in human evolution?"

Well, you can't explain it to them because they are accepting as a given
something which is not, at least not according to most evolutionary
scientists. Now you can debate with people whether or not Lucy is in the
lineage, or if Homo habilis used tools, or if neanderthals and modern
humans interbred, but you CANNOT explain to someone who doesn't believe
the fossils exist, why you believe in human evolution. You can try to
debate the existence of the fossil record, but until you get that far, you
cannot explain anything beyond that, well I suppose you can try but it
would be futile.

If you think that, as a given, the differences between neadertals and
modern humans are nothing more than an insignificant bunch of bumps on the
skull, then there is no more use in attempting to debate the issue of the
different species, then there would be explaining why you believe in human
evolution to someone who accepts as a given that there are no transitional
fossils. You have no wish to debate that topic, it seems, so there is no
way I could move beyond that issue.


>What point is there to fighting over some bone differences and contending
>that they imply that they were a different species, when there's
>fossil evidence that shows evidence of mixing in the transitional

But then there is a lot of people who think that the "transitional"
fossils are either ranges of variation, or transitional on the way to

>And all this after it's practically admitted that in some species
>the bone differences don't mean diddly squat.

There is a BIG difference between saying that animals which have no bone
differences are not able to interbreed, and saying that bone differences
do not mean anything. The counter to that would be, as Tattersall claims:
rarely do you have cases where there is a great deal of difference in the
skeleton and you DO have interbreeding. The only argument you've given for
that so far is the domestic dog (or any domestic species) which is not
very different at all except for size, and has been artificially bred.
Your argument that if it could happen under artificial selection (and so
far ONLY artificial selection, as you have not given an example of a range
of skeletal variation with interbreeding except artificially bred animals)
it therefore must be the most likely case I think has no basis in the
forces of natural evolution.


"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 /