Re: Tools and Hominidae

Mr J.M. Ottevanger (J.Ottevanger@LIVERPOOL.AC.UK)
Tue, 21 Feb 1995 15:01:07 +0000

Bob - I'm attracted by the idea of a "package" too, and feel a bit naked not
being familiar, as I no doubt should be, with Sue Savage Rumbaugh's idea that
you cite. I would simply like to see a mechanism with all the links laid out
that connect these disparate elements. Sorry if I haven't been paying attention
but the only connection I can see between canine reduction and manipultive
ability and/or general smartness is to avoid the said schoolboys biting their
tongues off when writing!
But this link between language and tool use etc. is surely worth pursuing.
bye, Jeremy

In the last mail SS51000 said:
> Though the connection--long championed by R. Holloway--between tool use
> and language remains (by his own admission) somewhat obscure, it is
> surely tantalizing. Roger Fouts, following Darwin himself, calls
> attention to the neurological linkage between precise manual dexterity
> and control of the tongue. (Darwin observed how regularly British
> schoolboys stuck out their tongues while learning to write.) With my
> usual penchant for parsimony, this argument--and others, such as Sue
> Savage-Rumbaugh's emphasis on the possible role of bipedalism in
> consonant production--makes me imagine an entire "package deal" in the
> divergence of hominids from the pongid line: bipedalism, canine
> reduction, language, and brain expansion--all triggered (not necessarily
> exactly simultaneously) by increasing reliance on making and using
> tools. The question is not whether this can be proven; the question is
> whether it is the simplest explanation, consistent with the evidence at
> hand (pun intended), for the hominid divergence. --Bob Graber