Comments on some specific points:
>Cranial capacity would be convincing [as differentiating extinct
>species] if in modern man intellect was shown to be a direct
>function of cranial capacity.<
This is not necessary for it to be of importance. Although a direct
relationship does not exist between cranial capacity and intelligence
(in fact, body size is a much stronger correlate with cranial size),
a very rough relationship exists at the level of human brain size
versus ape brain size, etc. Australopithecines, such as Lucy, have
cranial capacity much closer to the apes than normal humans.
>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.<
A Soviet researcher produced a new plant genus experimentally through
artificial hybridization of radish and cabbage (which belong to
Many transitional forms between genera exist in the fossil record, as
well as transitions between families, orders, classes, and phyla.
Molecular data also suggest transitions at all taxonomic levels.
>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.<
It seems likely that various groups of early hominids, including
early modern humans, outcompeted various other hominids (though
probably with some interbreeding as well in many cases). However,
this does not say anything about evolutionary connections. In fact,
evolutionary descendants are likely to outcompete surviving
representatives of the ancestral forms, if the descendant does not
move to a new niche.
>I would maintain that modern man must reside taxonomically in his own genus.<
Grouping things in a common taxonomic category does not inherently
imply evolutionary connection. Biologists today agree that
classificaiton ought to reflect evolutionary relationship. However,
Linnaeus assigned chimps and humans to Homo, without necessarily
thinking they were evolutionarily linked.
>Evolution as a source of life and increased complexity of life forms
>certainly flies in the face of the law of entropy.<
No, the energy necessary for the order created in living things is
supplied by nuclear reactions in the Sun and in the Earth's crust.
The net entropy of the universe increases even as organisms make
orderly structures. The increasing complexity within organisms
actually may represent an increase in entropy itself (I do not think
the exact application of entropy to this is rigorously worked out)
because there are more variations produced. A world full of a wide
assortment of complex organisms is less regular than one filled with
The post on the supernova mentioned Peking man. In addition to what
Glenn noted supporting the validity of the original find, there are
plenty of additional specimens that have since been discovered.
Trying to cast aspersions on the reality of Peking Man requires
either thorough ignorance (at a level inexcusable in someone
professing to provide information on the topic) or dishonesty on the
part of your sources.
Dr. David Campbell
University of Alabama
Biodiversity & Systematics
Dept. Biological Sciences
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 USA
That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
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