Re: Anthropological items

From: bivalve (
Date: Wed Jul 10 2002 - 19:25:46 EDT

  • Next message: Robert Schneider: "Re: Daniel"

    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
    separate genera).

    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
         Old Seashells
         University of Alabama
         Biodiversity & Systematics
         Dept. Biological Sciences
         Box 870345
         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
    Droitgate Spa

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