Re: Speciation - how do you know?

Nick Maclaren (
19 Sep 1996 14:51:44 GMT

In article <>, Paul Crowley <> writes:
|> In article <51p719$>
|> "Nick Maclaren" writes:
|> > In article <>, (Paul
|> > |> You're forgetting the relative speed and vulnerability of the
|> > |> predator. When the hunted wildebeest (or other prey) turns on
|> > |> a dog, it can quickly skip out of danger while others attack the
|> > |> prey's rear. H.n. wouldn't have the agility for this. It would
|> > |> just get mown down.
|> >
|> > Eh? Modern humans are quite capable of such manoeuvres (witness
|> > bullfighting). Why should Neanderthals be so much slower? I just
|> > DON'T believe that they got prematurely fat, paunchy and breathless!
|> I'm no expert on bullfighting, but I understand that the bulls are
|> well "prepared" for the matador by assistants on horseback who
|> put several lances through it. Also, matadors take great risks,
|> they're highly skilled, and use tricks which would not have been
|> available to Neanderthals. And above all, the fighting bulls
|> are specially bred for the purpose. They are allowed only one
|> fight, because if they had a second one the matador's dodging
|> would not work. The bull would not be fooled second time around.

Many forms of bullfighting using an unprepared (and often experienced)
bull. Furthermore, the point of using an inexperienced bull is that
the matador does NOT dodge - he uses the cape to steer the bull, and
is thoroughly booed if he moves his feet. I think that you might find
that Neanderthals both took great risks and were highly skilled.

|> > Hunting red deer, reindeer, ponies
|> > and wild sows with clubs alone is well within the ability of modern
|> > man.
|> Eh? With clubs alone? Have you evidence for this?

Yes. Try the law courts. Seriously.

|> In any case (as I said before) being a fast runner is essential
|> for this sort of hunting and one thing we can agree on (I hope)
|> is that H.n. was not selected for speed.

No, I don't agree. Intelligence can be used instead. An animal
can be surrounded and tricked into running into a trap (possibly
just a pile of bushes). Or a blunt spear can be thrown between
its legs as it runs, which will often trip it and may break a leg.
And there are several other possibilities, which don't need any
prerequisite tools.

Nick Maclaren,
University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory,
New Museums Site, Pembroke Street, Cambridge CB2 3QG, England.
Tel.: +44 1223 334761 Fax: +44 1223 334679