Re: Anthropological items

From: Jay Willingham (
Date: Tue Jul 09 2002 - 16:46:44 EDT

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         Dr. David Campbell wrote:

    Perhaps a more basic issue need established: what do you consider a =
    hominid and how do you define species?

    Hominid technically refers to a member of the family Hominidae and thus =
    would include Homo, Australopithecus, and assorted other anthropoid =
    primates showing specialization for upright walking. Depending on the =
    classification system, it might also include chimps or even additional =
    apes. I doubt that you include all of these in Homo sapiens. =20

    However, there is debate about the proper way to define species within a =
    lineage and the degree of morphological difference that merits =
    recognition at the species level. Thus, a strict cladist and lumper =
    might call Homo erectus and Homo habilis part of sapiens on the grounds =
    that they are all part of a single evolutionary lineage, even though =
    habilis falls outside the modern range of variation in several ways. =20


    Truly. Taxonomy is as much art as science. Species and subspecies tend =
    to merge, separate and coalesce again, both in classification and in =
    breeding populations.

    I take issue with a classification or an evolutionary lineage for Homo =
    sapiens that includes me and thee that ever includes anything other than =
    individuals within the range of variation of the intellectual and =
    spiritual capacity of modern man. =20

      Physiological differences ranging from Equatorial pygmies to Masai to =
    Northern Indo-Europeans or Neanderthals to Lucy do not impress me as =
    dispositive of intellectual and spiritual capacity. I believe Man was =
    created with the intellectual and spiritual capacity we labor with =
    today. The variations in the clay this spirit and soul resides in have =
    been too much emphasized. Cranial capacity would be convincing if in =
    modern man intellect was shown to be a direct function of cranial =

      Toolmaking may be a bit over-rated as an indicator. For instance, few =
    hunter-gatherers have the luxury of a permanent, sedentary and leisurely =
    enough situation in which to develop what we define as higher art. =
    The Calusa of southwest Florida and the natives of the Pacific Northwest =
    were possessors of sufficiently rich hunting and fishing grounds to do =
    this in the historic period. Also, the ephemeral nature of non-lithic =
    artifacts makes a thorough understanding of ancient capacities for art =

    Selection as a process changing a species over time has been empirically =
    demonstrated to occur pretty quickly, naturally in Galapagos finches and =
    artificially by man's breeding of say, dogs and horses. It is also =
    fascinating to see how in very few generations the most highly bred =
    domestic swine reverts to the Sus scrofa wild boar.=20

    I have yet to see empirical data or even a believable hypothetical model =
    for intermediary forms, or sudden survivable mutations creating one =
    genus from another genus.

    If upright walking is the primary marker for Hominidae, is it not =
    possible that species that were not yet modern man were never going to =
    become modern man, but rather were doomed to be eliminated by man =
    whenever they came into conflict with man over habitat. =20

    I would maintain that modern man must reside taxonomically in his own =

    Evolution as a source of life and increased complexity of life forms =
    certainly flies in the face of the law of entropy. =20

    I know this issue has probably been chewed over relentlessly in this =
    group, so perhaps I should let it drop and continue to read posts. My =
    is obviously an irritant to members of this group.

    In any event, perhaps all this is straining at "vain genealogies" and =
    not really of great import when viewed in the light of spreading the =
    Gospel. It is however a fascinating intellectual exercise.


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