Re: questions from first read of Lucy

16 Sep 1995 02:42:34 GMT

J. Moore ( sez:

`KMK> 3) have any fossil chimps been found since Lucy was written? is there
`KMK> a general reason for this?

`Here's what I wrote on that subject just a few weeks ago:

`The answer is almost certainly habitat. If, as seems likely, they
`lived in forests like they do now, well, that's a horrible place to
`be if you want to end up fossilized. ;-) Problem is you rot, and
`little bugs and whatnot eat you, and you don't get covered up by
`sediment or volcanic ash, which are topnotch ways to get
`fossilized. Animals which spend a great deal of time in, for instance,
`mud flats or shallow water get fossilized at one hell of a rate.
`That's why there's so many fossil pigs in Africa that they can be
`used to check dating processes, as I mentioned in a post on the
`Dating of 1470.

To add to this a little chemistry handwaving, the key point is
the acidity of the soil. Forest floors tend to be acid from
decaying leaf matter. I have found animal bones in forest
mould that are already as soft as chalk after only a few

Conversely, watercourses tend to collect salts leached from
the soil, and thus tend toward alkaline, which preserves bone.

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