Reply from Elaine MORGAN on AAT

Elaine Morgan (
Mon, 12 Dec 1994 13:15:14 +0000

As a newbie I have just caught up with the backlog. I hope it will
not infringe netiquette rules if I answer a lot of points at once. I
promise to be briefer in future.
RE BIPEDALISM. There is a growing realisation that bipedalism cannot
have evolved on the savannah because it predated by millions of years
the emergence of the savannah ecosystem as we know it. Tim White's
recent discovery of Lucy's ancestor A ramidus reinforces this. Ramidus
was putatively bipedal (v. foramen magnum) and found in sediments in
forested environment in Afar. Earlier this year K.D.HUNT revealed that
the occasional bipedalism of savannah chimpanzees was observed only
when they were in the wooded part of their range, not on the grassland.
Peter Wheeler's thermoregulation hypothesis has had a good run but it
is refuted by three other anthropologists in the current issue of
Journ. Hum. Evol... RE: claim that savannah b.p. evolved to carry foraged
food back to the trees to eat. What food? handsful of seeds, nuts ,
berries? The trek back would use more energy than these rations would
replace. The food was not meat: b.p predated hunting.....RE:B.p. is a
good way to spot distant predators on the savannah. It is also a great
way of enabling them to spot you - and they run faster.

ECCRINES. Yes, apes have eccrines all over their bodies. This is not a
major blunder by Morgan as claimed. I stated it in Scars of Evolution,
1990. So apes are the same as us? Wrong. Apes do not use their eccrines
for thermoregulation: we do. The top American specialist in primate
dermatology WM Montagna finds this inexplicable.

FAT. Yes, ageing overfed captive apes esp orangs will become obese . I
stated this too. So apes are the same as us? Wrong. Their fat adheres
to underlying tissues, is not bonded to the skin as in humans and
aquatics. Only in H sap. among primates do babies and infants have a
thick fat layer. Why should this be?

DIVING REFLEX. Yes, most land animals possess this in some degree. I
conceded this decades ago as soon as it was established. It was not
known in 1972

DATE: It is not a suspicious circumstance that AAT claims the aquatic
interlude happened during the fossil gap when it cannot be disproved by
fossil evidence. The date of the ape-human split is supplied by the
microbiologists and is not in dispute. Argument is about what triggered it.
The most dramatic environmental event of that period in Africa was the
flooding of the Afar Triangle.

LONGDISTANCE RUNNING. The classic reference to this is a paper by
Carrier. It could be a spin-off benefit of highly-evolved bipedalism
but could not have triggered it. The original shambling apes could not
have outrun a springbok.

Re: Morgan did not originate the AAT idea. No, nor ever claimed to.That
insight required genius which I do not possess. I only became its
arch-defender by default because nobody else volunteered.

FYI: OUP plan to issue an American edition of The Scars of Evolution
in the spring together with The Descent of the Child (1994)

Elaine Morgan .