Re: AAT Theory

H. M. Hubey (
6 Sep 1995 03:09:55 -0400 (J. Moore) writes:

>JM> In fact, it has been specifically stated online by
>JM> Elaine Morgan that she considers no fossil evidence, no matter
>JM> what it is, can possibly ever disprove the AAT, which essentially

>HMH> She's right.

>So you agree with Morgan that the fossil record is irrelevant to
>the subject of paleoanthropology. Very bizarre contention, that.

Not. Einstein said something like "No amount of experimentation
can prove me right but a single experiment can prove me wrong."

I asked you once "What is proof?"

I am asking again.

>HMH> What would be considered fossil evidence *for* AAT?

>Obviously, indications of an aquatic existence. You couldn't
>figure that out yourself?


Like what, webbed feet? Diving reflex? Ah yes, you said "fossil".

So what would you like, dorsal fins?

>HMH> What would be considered fossil evidence *against* AAT?

>First, understand that the question I'm answering here is whether
>fossil evidence could possibly help or hurt the AAT. Unlike Morgan's

First, understand that saying "understand" or "do you
understand?" is extremely impolite. If I was in a nasty
mood, I'd have a few choice words.

>understood that if our ancestors were actually shore-dwelling
>waders and swimmers, we would expect to be up to our ears in
>hominid fossils, which we are not. (On that subject note that

Why is that? ARe the shores around today the same shores
as millions of years ago? And how do we know where the shores
were except by use of the same theory since nobody was
around millions of years ago? So we are already further
and further removed from any direct "proof" or "disproof"
or even evidence which could be considered the "smoking gun".

What would you like to see on the fossils as evidence for AAT?
Maybe you'd like to find a single tooth in the ocean which
doesn't look like any teeth we've seen and is the right age.

>Morgan and other AATers propose that australopithecines at least
>as late as "Lucy" were indulging in this lifestyle in inland

So? Humans have lived around inland rivers and lakes for
thousands of years, and could have lived there even earlier.

>Now, just off the top of my head, for instance, if we found
>fossils of the common ancestor we share with African apes, and it
>turned out to be as bipedal as australopithecines, that would be
>extremely strong evidence aginst the AAT. The AAT says that

No it doesn't.

First, bipedalism itself is a lumped-parameter characterization
of set which is derived based on indirect evidence. There's
a general way in which we can view evolution (simplified
of course, and starting at an arbitrary place, like with
primitive reptiles]. The reps like crocs have short legs and
are close to the ground in addition to having large tails.
The tails are for balance and in all likelihood the distance
from the ground is safety for such a small brain.

Up the tree we have others which have longer legs and
bigger brains (dogs, deer etc).

Still going up we have "knuckle-walkers" like gorillas
and related ones.

Now if we think about how this might have happened, [naturally
in a very simplified way] then perhaps the longer arms [front
legs] helped them to stand up more and more vertically since
they could be supported in this position. However if we want
to extend this logic, then we'd have to have humans whose
arms reached the ground and their legs would/could be
about 1 foot long. Something has happened along the way.
In modern parlance we'd call it a bifurcation. Instead of
continuing in the typical ape fashion, the limbs lengths
reversed, we went the way of the kangoroo. So there
would seem to be a point at which the there was a divergence
of those that got long arms (i.e. apes) and those that got
the long legs (humans).

So applying "use it or lose it" we could get either

1) the savannah [for running to develop their legs]
2) the water [treading to develop their legs]

If the water phase did not start much earlier I don't
see any reason why we have to make comparisons to whales.
We have sea otters and they haven't lost their legs. So
if they got to the water at this particular time, there's
no reason why they'd have to lose their legs. Just the
reverse, the treading would not give them the same
exercise as running away from cats on the savannah and
in fact even more so, because it would have to be
almost continuous.

So at best parts of AAT go away and that they were already
"bipedal" when they went into the water. And you still have
the problems of finding the common ancestor. It would be
nice if you could find a whole skeleton :-)..

>predominately bipedal hominids could not evolve on land, and that
>they evolved at the same time and place as many features which are
>derived compared to the African apes. If the CA was predominately
>bipedal, it would make this combination impossible.

Well, if the UILI (use it,lose it) scenario were to apply
here, I'd find it hard to see how these puny things could have
survived the cats without even being able to breed like marmots
or rabbits :-).. And where else would they get a chance to
run around and develop their legs :-).. After all they are
no longer near the jungle and they wouldn't be using their
legs to run up and down trees.

>This would falsify the AAT; however, Morgan has stated that fossil
>evidence is irrelevant to the theory, unlike all other theories of
>human evolution. Perhaps you could explain why the AAT is
>supposed to be granted this special preferential treatment? While

AAT is not special. But theories cannot be proven; they
can only be falsified. As long as it's not falsified and
we have evidence to believe that the theory best explains
the data, until evidence to the contrary we keep believing.

Of course, probabilistically or statistically speaking predictions
that a theory makes boost our belief and confidence in it,
and if there are things that seem to contradict it we try to
patch it up so that it still gives the best "explanation"
of the evidence as we know it.

>wrote it up, that you're probably actually looking to just play
>semantic games instead of actually looking at what science can

I wouldn't do that. To me much of the rancor that presently
plagues some of these groups are "semantic" games. Sometimes
much semantics passes for science, for there isn't much

Lord Kelvin [1883].

"When you can measure what you are speaking about and
express it in numbers, you know something about it; but
when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it
in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory
kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge but you have
scarcely, in your own thoughts, advanced to the state of
science, whatever the matter may be."


Regards, Mark