Thursday, October 1, 2009

And furthermore

The National Geographic article goes on to suggest that bipedality arose from the need for males to carry food to the females, for whatever reason; an old theory that’s been battered around for a while.

Pardon me, but that’s impossible. It violates one of the laws of evolution, which is that morphological changes are only made for food. Cosmetics for sex, morphology for food. Got it? Amoebas, birds, people, bacteria, grizzly bears, beans, and sequoias, we’re all the same: food for shape; sex for color. I’m not going to change my shape just to get you food.

It also edges on another evolutionary law: evolution only goes forward; it only moves in a positive direction. I.e. evolution is always towards something, never away from anything. The savannah theory directly violates that rule. One changes evolutionary direction because a new food source is appearing, not because an old one is disappearing.

(I feel the necessity to repeat these rules here because I don’t recall seeing them elsewhere, basic as they may be.)

Another evolutionary law often mentioned here: No species can evolve quickly enough to avoid environmental collapse. This is a correlate of the above law. Another reason why the savannah theory couldn’t be.

Up a lazy river

Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry for beating this dead horse.

Today’s (10/1/09) BBC News reports, in a piece titled “Fossil finds extend human story” concerning recently released analysis of a 17 year old find named Ardipithecus ramidus, that, “Even if it is not on the direct line to us, it offers new insights into how we evolved from the common ancestor we share with chimps.”

It goes on —blah, blah—about A. ramidus’s tree climbing, walking, and running capabilities; age, 4.4 million years; location, Ethiopia; and such; and then concludes with the “Duh!” moment:

“What is surprising about the discovery is that the remains were found in a forested area. It had been thought that early human evolution was prompted by the disappearance of trees - encouraging our ancestors to walk on the ground.

“’These creatures were living and dying in a woodland habitat, not an open savannah,’ said Professor White.”

(National Geographic went even further in its news release: “If White and his team are right that Ardi [as the fossil’s known] walked upright as well as climbed trees, the environmental evidence would seem to strike the death knell for the ‘savanna hypothesis’—a long-standing notion that our ancestors first stood up in response to their move onto an open grassland environment.”)

“It’s been thought” by whom?

No Ape Shit reader would ever be surprised about a discovery such as that. We’ve been saying for decades that we grew up on the river banks and swamp lands. Being bipedal has nothing at all to do with the disappearance of any forests. Never has, never will. It’s been a blind alley since it was first conceived. It was a dumb theory to begin with that has diverted understanding of human evolution for nearly a hundred years. It’ll take the field another hundred years to fully throw away that silly belief; and, trust me, no one will ever give a nod towards A. Hardy. By God, they’re going to have to back their way into reality rather than credit anyone from the outside having any insight into the issue.

Regardless, couple this report along with the most recent analysis that the Floresian Hobbits, despite fire and tool use, weren’t even human, and I find comfort in that. It means that becoming human was not a unique and improbable outcome of a single evolutionary path, but rather the natural extension of primate evolution (it’s also recently been discovered that New World monkeys have had increase brain size since their split with the Old World monkeys). Being not unique on this planet increases the likelihood of finding us elsewhere.

You can never fly too high.