Re: Ape fossil record

Alex Duncan (
6 Sep 1995 21:26:48 GMT

In article <42cep2$> CB, writes:

>I would probably go for the teeth, since the common dental formula ( 2-1-2-3 )
>has changed little, ( this confirmed through not only the Australopithecines,
>but also through Proconsul ) as well as other morphological variants, such as
>cusp pattern ( y-5 vs. x-5 or x-4 molar )

If teeth can't distinguish between Proconsul, Australopithecus, and Homo
(as you seem to suggest), how are they going to tell us whether a 6 Myr
old fossil is more closely related to chimps or humans (or neither)?

>Its not that Forest's themselves are particularly bad, ( although the higher
>acidity of the soil tends to disintegrate skeletal material quickly ) its the
>things living in the forest that cause a problem. Something dies and they
>just haul it off in pieces. What may have been preserved if left alone is
>now in the stomachs, ( or mouths ) of a whole host of organisms.

This doesn't happen in open country?

>We did an experiment in an Anthropology class to this effect where a carcass
>was hauled into a lightly wooded area. Each day we returned to note what
>was missing and what still remained. After 5 days hardly anything was left,
>just a few bits of bone and scraps of skin.

Let me guess -- everything would still be there if you'd left it out in
the savanna, right?

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