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Re: [AAT] Postulates & Questions

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  • Pauline M Ross
    ... This is the standard version of AAT described so well by Elaine Morgan. Others here see the aquatic phase as less clearcut and continuing over a longer
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 1, 2000
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      > From: Kevin Jones <kevin-jones@...>
      >
      > Postulates
      > 1. A group of chimpanzees were (probably) enisled and (certainly)
      > flooded between 8 & 5 mya.
      > 2. In transition they stayed in those conditions for a half million
      > or
      > more years.
      > 3. When they came out of the water they were the first hominids (FH).
      > They were bipedal, hairless, had subcutaneous fat, had breath
      > control,
      > and had frontal sex.
      > 4. All hominids descended from FH.
      > 5. All hominids originated in Africa..
      > 6. My understanding of the direct line is: FH, ardipithecus,
      > australopithecus afarensis, homo habilis, homo erectus, homo sapiens

      This is the standard version of AAT described so well by Elaine Morgan.
      Others here see the aquatic phase as less clearcut and continuing over a
      longer period.

      > 4. During the last 8 million years gorillas did not evolve and only
      > bonobos evolved from chimps. (Is this statement correct?) Why, then,
      > were there so many (a dozen?) new hominid species both in and out of
      > the direct line during that time? Is it simply the effect of
      > splitters? I doubt that because the fossils do seem to be real and
      > diverse.

      Strictly speaking, we should assume that all species continue to evolve, in
      other words, we can't assume that a modern gorilla is exactly like a
      gorilla of 8 or 5 or 2 million years ago. But the difference is that
      gorillas and chimps were/are confined to tropical forest areas, which have
      shrunk in size but are otherwise unchanged in character. Hominids, however,
      were in the most volatile (in climate terms) areas of East Africa, which
      very likely drove multiple speciation.

      > 5. I suspect that the great explosion in capability of h. sap. was
      > brought about by language. Before language each generation pretty
      > much
      > had to start from scratch.

      Not strictly true. In chimp cultures which use tools, the juveniles learn
      the skills required by watching. Early hominids could have learned to make
      stone tools/use fire/hunt just by watching, too. Language is just a more
      effective teaching method (once you have enough of it).

      > It seems unlikely that h. erectus could
      > talk because as successful as he was, if he could have spoken would
      > he
      > not have survived?* But (see postulate 3) he had the airway structure
      > needed for speech. Why didn't he (and the earlier hominids) talk?
      > Brain power doesn't seem to account for it? Kanzi and Panbanisha+
      > seem
      > to have the brains for speech. Is it possible that in pre h. sap
      > hominids the larynx not have descended far enough to allow speech? If
      > so, why and when did that modification take place?
      > 5*. However, I believe that Neanderthals had speech yet didn't
      > survive.
      > 5+ Bonobos (not chimps) who have learned to communicate by touching a
      > large array of icons. They seem to understand simple spoken English.
      > But they can't talk because of their airway structure.
      > 6. The above boils down to this: The aquatic life must have produced
      > erect stance (bipedalism), hair loss, subcutaneous fat, and frontal
      > sex. The fossil record shows no conflict with respect to those four.
      > The aquatic life certainly produced breath control but did that
      > entail
      > the physical capacity to produce speech or was some further evolution
      > necessary to produce speech. If so, what, why, and when? If not, then
      > when did the first hominid speak?
      > A. If the abstract contributed by Ian Pitchford in message 3320 is
      > correct then I assume that nobody can answer my speech questions but
      > I'll toss them out anyway.

      :-) The full paper by Fitch is very readable (and - hallelujah! - doesn't
      require a subscription to download), why not have a look at it? And it's
      astonishing how much sensible information he derives, when almost every
      section starts and ends with a lament over the lack of data.

      Having a language is no guarantee of survival - many modern groups have
      vanished without trace or are currently hanging by a thread after a
      cultural collision with other modern groups. Fitch's paper has some
      interesting stuff about descended larynxes, but it is clear that it must
      have taken some time to evolve the full modern speech apparatus. My guess
      is that Homo erectus must have had some language capability, but well short
      of modern language. Interestingly, Erectus fossils have been found in
      places that they could only have got to by crossing a stretch of ocean. For
      those who have Erectus still aquatic at that time, this isn't a problem
      (they swam), but otherwise they got there either accidentally (clinging to
      logs, say) or they built a raft (which implies some sort of language). Take
      your pick. As for Neandertals, current views place them anywhere from
      grunt-and-gesture to full language.

      If you want an introduction to how language evolved, try Jean Aitchison's
      'The Seeds of Speech'. It's strictly non-aquatic, but it's a good summary
      of current ideas.
      >
      > An expression of faith: Anything I produce will be intentionally
      > fictional, in contrast to the conventional wisdom called the Savanah
      > theory.

      :-) Good luck with the writing.

      Pauline Ross
    • Marc Verhaegen
      ... No evidence of some island. Flooded, yes, if you mean a combination of trees+water (mangrove, forest swamp, gallery forest...). 8-5mya = time of Homo-Pan
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 1, 2000
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        >> From: Kevin Jones <kevin-jones@...>
        >>
        >> Postulates
        >> 1. A group of chimpanzees were (probably) enisled and (certainly)
        >> flooded between 8 & 5 mya.

        No evidence of some island.
        Flooded, yes, if you mean a combination of trees+water (mangrove, forest
        swamp, gallery forest...).
        8-5mya = time of Homo-Pan LCA? yes IMO.

        >> 2. In transition they stayed in those conditions for a half million or
        >> more years.

        More likely many millions: already 17mya early great apes were found in
        coastal forests (Heliopith.), and later again (Austriacopith ca.14mya,
        Oreopith ca.8mya). They were probably different from each other (certainly
        Oreopith), but it's difficult to know more about their exact aquaroboreal
        lifestyles.

        >> 3. When they came out of the water they were the first hominids (FH).
        >> They were bipedal, hairless, had subcutaneous fat, had breath
        >> control, and had frontal sex.

        - Bipedal: flexed-hip-flexed-knee bipedalism (Lucy) was probably already
        very early (not impossibly in the time of Heliopith etc.), but our
        present-day bipedalism is Pleistocene (IMO late-Pleistocene).
        - Hairless: nobody knows. According to ontogenetic data (furlessness appear
        at ca.6-7 months intrauterinely), probably several million years ago.
        - SC fat: certainly more than 20,000ya (fat Venuses), probably much older.
        - Breath control: probably no older than Pleistocene (ER-1470 endocast
        1.8mya).
        - Frontal sex: also seen in orangs & bonobos, then more than 15mya?

        >> 4. All hominids descended from FH.

        per definition!
        great hominoids =
        - pongids = orangs
        - hominids = chimps, humans, gorillas

        >> 5. All hominids originated in Africa.

        not certain: The earliest undoubted great apes (hominid-pongid) is the
        Arabian Heliopith.ca.17mya. Pongids live in SE-Asia, chimps & gorillas in
        Africa, humans originated somewhere around the Indian Ocean.

        >> 6. My understanding of the direct line is: FH, ardipithecus,
        >> australopithecus afarensis, homo habilis, homo erectus, homo sapiens

        certainly wrong (if only because direct ancestors are unlikely to be found
        in the fossil record)

        >This is the standard version of AAT described so well by Elaine Morgan.
        >Others here see the aquatic phase as less clearcut and continuing over a
        >longer period.

        Yes.

        >> 4. During the last 8 million years gorillas did not evolve and only
        >> bonobos evolved from chimps. (Is this statement correct?

        DNA suggests:
        - lesser/great ape split: 20mya?
        - pongid/hominid split: 14mya?
        - Gorilla/HP split: 7mya?
        - Homo/Pan split: 5mya?
        - common/bonobo split: 2mya?


        >>) Why, then,
        >> were there so many (a dozen?) new hominid species both in and out of
        >> the direct line during that time? Is it simply the effect of
        >> splitters? I doubt that because the fossils do seem to be real and
        >> diverse.

        Ardipith & the australopiths have nothing typically human (no long legs, no
        external nose, no very large brain). They lived probably not long after the
        Homo/Pan split. Several people think apiths are only sidebranches of us. You
        can find my opinion in 4 Human Evolution papers:
        http://www.egroups.com/files/AAT/Hum.Ev.MV.doc

        >Strictly speaking, we should assume that all species continue to evolve, in
        >other words, we can't assume that a modern gorilla is exactly like a
        >gorilla of 8 or 5 or 2 million years ago. But the difference is that
        >gorillas and chimps were/are confined to tropical forest areas, which have
        >shrunk in size but are otherwise unchanged in character. Hominids, however,
        >were in the most volatile (in climate terms) areas of East Africa, which
        >very likely drove multiple speciation.

        I think by "hominids" you mean australopiths & Homo?
        - Apiths (4-5 to 1mya) are found all over Africa, from Chad to S-Africa.
        It's well possible that the Rift Valley yielded so many fossils because it's
        easier to fossilise there.
        - Homo (2-0mya) is found from E- & S-Africa to Java & Flores.


        >> 5. I suspect that the great explosion in capability of H.sap. was
        >> brought about by language. Before language each generation pretty
        >> much had to start from scratch.
        >
        >Not strictly true. In chimp cultures which use tools, the juveniles learn
        >the skills required by watching. Early hominids could have learned to make
        >stone tools/use fire/hunt just by watching, too. Language is just a more
        >effective teaching method (once you have enough of it).

        Yes.

        >> It seems unlikely that H.erectus could talk
        >> because as successful as he was, if he could have spoken would he
        >> not have survived?* But (see postulate 3) he had the airway structure
        >> needed for speech. Why didn't he (and the earlier hominids) talk?
        >> Brain power doesn't seem to account for it? Kanzi and Panbanisha+
        >> seem to have the brains for speech

        Probably not: much smaller Area 4 for mouth-throat; no real Broca; certainly
        no Wernicke; smaller association areas.... They might have brains for
        symbolic thinking (signs...), yes, but not for speech.

        >> . Is it possible that in pre h. sap
        >> hominids the larynx not have descended far enough to allow speech? If
        >> so, why and when did that modification take place?

        It's now believed that laryngeal descent has not much to do with speech (at
        least not directly). See the recent Paris conference:
        - Tecumseh Fitch "Vocal Production in Nonhuman Mammals: Implications for the
        Evolution of Speech"
        http://www.infres.enst.fr/confs/evolang/actes/_actes28.html
        - John J. Ohala "The Irrelevance of the Lowered Larynx in Modern Man for the
        Development of Speech"
        http://www.infres.enst.fr/confs/evolang/actes/_actes51.html
        - Marc Verhaegen & Stephen Munro "The Origin of Phonetic Abilities: A Study
        of the Comparative Data with Reference to the Aquatic Theory"
        http://www.infres.enst.fr/confs/evolang/actes/_actes74.html (we think
        laryngeal descent is connected to seafood swallowing)


        >> 5*. However, I believe that Neanderthals had speech yet didn't
        >> survive.

        Tasmanians had speech & did not survive.

        >> 5+ Bonobos (not chimps) who have learned to communicate by touching a
        >> large array of icons. They seem to understand simple spoken English.
        >> But they can't talk because of their airway structure.
        >> 6. The above boils down to this: The aquatic life must have produced
        >> erect stance (bipedalism), hair loss, subcutaneous fat, and frontal
        >> sex. The fossil record shows no conflict with respect to those four.
        >> The aquatic life certainly produced breath control but did that entail
        >> the physical capacity to produce speech or was some further evolution
        >> necessary to produce speech. If so, what, why, and when? If not, then
        >> when did the first hominid speak?
        >> A. If the abstract contributed by Ian Pitchford in message 3320 is
        >> correct then I assume that nobody can answer my speech questions but
        >> I'll toss them out anyway.

        Tecumseh Fitch might be the man who knows most about comparative data on
        laryngeal descent.

        >:-) The full paper by Fitch is very readable (and - hallelujah! - doesn't
        >require a subscription to download), why not have a look at it? And it's
        >astonishing how much sensible information he derives, when almost every
        >section starts and ends with a lament over the lack of data.
        >
        >Having a language is no guarantee of survival - many modern groups have
        >vanished without trace or are currently hanging by a thread after a
        >cultural collision with other modern groups. Fitch's paper has some
        >interesting stuff about descended larynxes, but it is clear that it must
        >have taken some time to evolve the full modern speech apparatus. My guess
        >is that Homo erectus must have had some language capability, but well short
        >of modern language. Interestingly, Erectus fossils have been found in
        >places that they could only have got to by crossing a stretch of ocean. For
        >those who have Erectus still aquatic at that time, this isn't a problem
        >(they swam),

        :-)

        (not "aquatic", but "amphibious" -- even Nasalis are know to swim miles off
        the coast, see Elaine's "Aq.Ape" photo p.96 -- and see what Phillip Tobias
        wrote http://archive.outthere.co.za/98/dec98/disp1dec.html "... the
        Indonesian island of Flores could be reached only by sea crossings even when
        the sea level was lowest. Yet stone tools and fossil bones on Flores show
        that humans (probably Homo erectus) and archaic elephants (Stegodon) must
        have crossed this 19km-wide, deep oceanic channel 900 000 to 800 000 years
        ago. There is no evidence that they knew how to make boats so early. Either
        they floated across using tree trunks and logs as rafts, or they swam.
        Another deep oceanic channel - the Strait of Gibraltar - ..."

        >but otherwise they got there either accidentally (clinging to
        >logs, say) or they built a raft (which implies some sort of language). Take
        >your pick. As for Neandertals, current views place them anywhere from
        >grunt-and-gesture to full language.
        >
        >If you want an introduction to how language evolved, try Jean Aitchison's
        >'The Seeds of Speech'. It's strictly non-aquatic, but it's a good summary
        >of current ideas.
        >>
        >> An expression of faith: Anything I produce will be intentionally
        >> fictional, in contrast to the conventional wisdom called the Savanah
        >> theory.
        >
        >:-) Good luck with the writing.
        >
        >Pauline Ross

        Marc
      • Kevin Jones
        Pauline, Thanks very much for your response. I m abridging our previous messages below. You said (Your postulate) is the standard version of AAT described so
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 1, 2000
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          Pauline, Thanks very much for your response. I'm abridging our
          previous messages below.
          You said> (Your postulate) is the standard version of AAT
          described so well by Elaine Morgan. Others here see the aquatic
          phase as less clearcut and continuing over a longer period.
          ===That's fine. So long as nobody can prove I'm incorrect.
          You said > Hominids, (unlike apes) were in the most volatile
          (in climate terms) areas of East Africa, which
          > very likely drove multiple speciation.
          ===I'm willing to believe that.
          I said> I suspect that ... before language each generation pretty
          much had to start from scratch.
          You said > Not strictly true. In chimp cultures which use tools,
          the juveniles learn the skills required by watching.
          ===On this one I'll hide behind my phrase "pretty much". I was
          aware of monkey-see-monkey-do but think that would not allow
          a great deal of progress.
          You said > :-) The full paper by Fitch is very readable (and -
          hallelujah! - doesn't require a subscription to download),
          why not have a look at it?
          ===I had tried to get it but clicking on the url's in the message
          produced nada. With your encouragementI went back and bludgeoned my
          way to the paper. I look forward to reading it, thanks to you.
          You said> Having a language is no guarantee of survival -
          many modern groups have vanished without trace or are currently
          hanging by a thread after a cultural collision with other
          modern groups.
          ===I hadn't thought of that. Thanks.
          You said > Erectus fossils have been found in places that they
          could only have got to by crossing a stretch of ocean. For
          > those who have Erectus still aquatic at that time, this isn't a
          problem (they swam),
          ===I don't think any hominid ever was a long distance swimmer for
          transportation.
          You said> If you want an introduction to how language evolved, try
          Jean Aitchison's > 'The Seeds of Speech'. It's strictly non-aquatic,
          but it's a good summary of current ideas.
          ===Thanks, maybe I'll do that.
          You said > :-) Good luck with the writing.
          ===Thanks. I'm afraid I will need that good luck.
          In this group is it permissible to ask where you are? By my time
          your message was sent at 4:00 in the morning.
          Kevin
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