Re: Technology & Intelligence

Ralph L Holloway (rlh2@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Fri, 10 Feb 1995 12:54:40 -0500

Has Bob Graber never heard of 'mosaic' evolution? His arguments regarding
parsimony and economy of explanations seem to have more of a religious
basis than one rooted in the present available evidence. Bipedalism is
there in A. afarensis, at least 3.5 million years ago, and if the recent
attributions of the newest discoveries appearing in Nature regarding Tim
White et al's discoveries of 45% of the postcranial skeleton of A.
ramidus some 4.5 million years ago is true, and the leg elements suggest
bipedalism, this could be well in advance of any 'precision' grip. I am
not aware of definitive evidence regarding the hand bony elements in A.
afarensis or A. ramidus. My understanding of the stone tool evidence is
that the earliest tools are about 2.5 million years ago. There is no
evidence for brain expansion until the genus Homo, whether it be Olduvai
Gorge elements at about 600+cc, or H. rudolphensis(?) (KMN-ER 1470) at
1.8 MYA. I hope my remarks won't be seen as "imprudent" or 'unjust'.
Surely Dr. Graber isn't implying that Washburn's snap-crackle-pop rice
krispies model of the canine shrinking while australopithecines are
making stone tools is to be embraced once again, or is he? The problem of
the robust australos and their precision grip is still one of attribution
of fossil fragments in a context where no one can be certain if the
elements are indeed robust rather than Homo, as someone else pointed out
a few days ago. Please note: I am not saying Bob is wrong: it's simply
that the evidence isn't really all that strong. Ralph Holloway.
On Fri, 1 0
Feb 1995, SS51000 wrote:

> The folks raising questions such as whether robust australopithecines
> needed tools, or whether the precision grip they evidently had may have
> been related to seed-gathering rather than to tool use, should at least
> be aware that they are throwing out a considerable parsimony: the
> precision grip's appearance seems to coincide with other basic hominid
> anatomical adaptations: bipedalism and reduced canines. Now, what the
> technology hypothesis achieves is tentative explanation of all three of
> these adaptations in one fell swoop (so to speak); furthermore, the
> subsequent brain expansion falls into place nicely. In light of the
> remarkable economy of explanation provided by the technology hypothesis,
> its cavalier rejection seems to me imprudent at best, and an injustice
> to anthopology as a science at worst. --Bob Graber