Re: history questions: meat, siberian land bridge, horses in the Americas

18 Dec 1996 01:22:01 GMT

E Douglas Kihn ( wrote:
: In <58vml4$>
: writes:
: >
: >
: >>If you have stomach acid, you had better eat meat (like our chimp
: >>cousins)
: >

Thing is...chimps are primarily vegetarians, secondarily insectivores
and carnivores. Baboons are very similar in diet but again are also
primarily vegetarians. That both can and do obtain meat on occasion
(chimps more than baboons) is a far cry from a constant diet of meat.
In most cases, either acquires meat on an opportunistic basis. Goodall
in Gombe has seen some concerted effort but, again, it takes advantage of
opportunity rather than being something they set out to do deliberately.
With this noted, I think you will find all vertebrates have stomach
BTW, a more accurate indicator of diet is the dentition. Looking at
human dentition you find it is very poorly adapted for eating meat. We
have no good shearing teeth (such as the carnassials you see in dogs and
cats); our canines are small, blunted, barely reaching above the surface
of the surrounding teeth (compare them to a carnivore such as a dog and
note the disparity); our jaw muscles are not attached to provide the
strength needed for biting and shearing meat off in hunks (note the
sagittal crest on dogs, lions, etc; gorillas have a terrific sagittal
crest, one of the few primates possessing such, but they eat some
terrifically tough, fibrous material requiring considerable jaw
pressure). In short, we are not even as dentally prepared for an
opportunistic or omnivorous diet as is a pig, for instance, where the
canines are still considerable.
The large, cusped, crushing/grinding molars we possess are excellent
for handling seeds and other plant material. Our jaws are attached to
our skull in such a way as to allow lateral movement (a characteristic
found almost wholly can watch a cow chewing and see its
jaws move sideways but when is the last time you saw your dog chew with
the same motion?).
Looking at the australopithecines, it was thought Paranthropus (later
referred to as Aus. robustus) was an intensive vegetarian due to the
massive size of its mandible, the size of the molars, etc. But all the
australopithecines show at poor dentition for carnivory.
Keep in mind, even dogs eat a fair amount of vegetation but that does
not make them vegetarians. That chimps and such eat meat upon occasion
equally does not make them carnivores.

: In hot climates (like India), this unnatural habit of vegetarianISM is
: easier to get away with. But in cold climates, it's just plain
: foolish. And if you don't use that stomach acid, you sill lose it.
: Like not using your left arm, it will eventually atrophy.

Whoa! If you suggest hot climates give rise to carnivory you ignore the
entire history of the beginnings of agriculture, said history having
started in the very hot Middle East as best as can be determined. You
also find crop growing in equatorial Africa in prehistory and certainly
the pre-European Mayas, Aztecs, Toltecs, etc. as well as the Anasazi and
other Amerindians had well-established agricultural economies. And all
lived in extremely hot climates.
As for cold climates....well, living in Alaska's Interior as I do, I
can tell you the growing season is rather short. The ability to
establish an agricultural economy in the colder climates relies more on
technology than anything else. It is worth noting that even in the
arctic, Native peoples subsisting on a diet high in caribou also made use
of these herbivores stomach contents as a source of vegetable matter in
the winter.

: By the way, Irish people are usually a little ruddy. That flush is
: there to keep their faces warm. Do you suffer from the cold, Colleen?

: Dr. Doug

Ignoring the tone of the statement the flush you speak of does not in
itself create the warmth but is a byproduct of the capillaries opening to
radiate heat to exposed areas. You see this not only in Irish but in
just about any person who has been outside in the cold for a while. It's
an effect celebrated in song and literature regardless of the ethnicity
of those so adorned. I wouldn't exactly call our Alaskan natives "Irish"
but they have cheeks just as ruddy as any non-natives when either have
been out in the cold.
It's physiology not ethnicity.

(I'm coming into this thread late in its existence, I see, but I could
not let these assertions pass unchallenged. In view of them, I am
curious in what field is your doctorate?)

....Art, in Alaska