Foley/Milton debate, message 5c1

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Date: Tue, 2 Dec 97 12:47:37 MST
Subject: Foley's reply to Milton (Australopithecines)

This is my third response to Richard Milton, responding to his claims
about australopithecines.

> RM:
> There is a useful recent discussion of how Australopithecines, especially 
> Lucy, have been misrepresented as human ancestors in _Forbidden 
> Archaeology_ (Cremo and Thompson, 1993, p 728-739).  I am quoting from a 
> table on page 730:-
> "Evidence for arboreality in postcranial anatomy of A. afarensis.
> [9 other quotes snipped]
> 10. Blades of hip oriented as in chimpanzee (Stern and Susman 1983, p.292.) 
> Features of afarensis hip therefore  "enable proficient climbing" (Stern 
> and Susman 1983, p. 290).

But of those quotes, nine concerned the upper body anatomy.  Showing that
the upper body anatomy has arboreal adaptations does not tell us whether
Lucy was bipedal or quadrupedal when on the ground.  Most of those quotes
came from Stern and Susman, who are quite adamant that Lucy was bipedal:

  "That bipedality was a more fundamental part of australopithecine
  behavior than in any other living or extinct nonhuman primate is not in
  serious dispute."

  "... we must emphasize that in no way do we dispute the claim that
  terrestrial bipedality was a far more significant component of the
  behavior of A. afarensis than in any living nonhuman primate."
  (Stern and Susman, AJPA 60:279-317, 1983)

If afarensis was quadrupedal, the upper body should show signs of it.  It
doesn't.  McHenry (Journal of Human Evolution, 15:177-91, 1986) says that
australopithecine arms show no adaptations for knuckle walking or any other
form of quadrupedalism.  Stern and Susman (JHE, 60:284, 1983) say much the

Cremo and Thompson use Stern and Susman as support for their idea
that australopithecines have been misrepresented as human ancestors.  But
Stern and Susman say nothing of the sort:

  "In our opinion A. afarensis is very close to what can be called a
  "missing link".  It possesses a combination of traits entirely
  appropriate for an animal that had traveled well down the road toward
  full-time bipedality ..." (same paper as above)

Obviously, before hominids were full-time bipeds they had to be something
else.  The fact that Lucy was partly arboreal and partly bipedal is
evidence *for* being related to humans, not evidence against it.  (Note
that I said evidence, not proof)

> >  > JIM FOLEY -
> >  >
> >  > I have one final question for Richard. What *would* be an acceptable
> >  > example of an ape/human intermediate, since he doesn't like any of  
> >  >the claimed specimens?
> >
> >   RM
> >>> There are three criteria that distinguish humans from apes 
> >>>anatomically.  
> >>> They are:-
> >>>
> >>> 1.  The way the skull is joined to the spine, balanced upright in  
> >>> humans, sloping in apes.
> >
> > JF
> >And as is well known, australopithecines are quite humanlike in this
> >respect.  See, for example,
> >, taken from "Humankind
> >Emerging" by Bernard Campbell
> Now you are doing what you accuse me of.  It is not 'well known' at all.

So it's acceptable for you to cite a fact as "well known" when you can come
up with two references (Oxnard and Zuckerman, one of them horribly dated)
but it's not acceptable for me to say something is well known even though I
can find many contemporary references for it?

>     RM
> >>> 2.  Human feet are flat for walking upright.  Ape feet are long and 
> >>> curved for grasping branches.
> Yes.  And?  Where are the fossil feet intermediate between apes and humans?  
> Or the apes with human-like feet, adapted for bipedal movement?

OH 8 and Stw 573, discussed below.

>     RM
> >>> 3. Ape teeth are characteristically different from human teeth.
> >
> >See "Lucy", Johanson and Edey, 1981, pages 260-279, has a long discussion
> >about australopithecine teeth.  Ape teeth are indeed different from human
> >teeth.  Guess which A. africanus most resembles?  Yes, humans.  See
> >, again taken from 
> >Campbell's book.
> >
> >The earlier A. afarensis is much more apelike than africanus, but has some
> >human characterics.
> I don't need to "guess which"  because I have read Johanson and Edey in 
> more detail that you apparently have.

Why do you say that?  You don't present any data to show that my claim that
A. africanus most resembles humans is wrong.  You ignored it and went off
on a long tangent about how apelike Lucy's teeth are, something I largely
accept.  WHAT ABOUT THE TEETH OF AFRICANUS?  Didn't you notice the many
pages in which Johanson talks about 11 differences between ape and human
teeth, and shows that in virtually all of these A. africanus resembles

>  JF
> >4. Brain size.  Few humans are smaller than 900 cc.  Chimps have a max of
> >500 cc, gorillas are about 700 cc max but they are far larger than any
> >hominids and have grossly apelike skulls.  Homo habilis skulls fit in the
> >gap beautifully, being intermediate in both brain size and anatomy.  Some
> >of the smaller H. erectus skulls are also in the 750-900 cc range, with
> >significant anatomical differences from modern humans in addition to their
> >exceptionally small size.
> See my earlier remarks about brain size.  There is scientifically no basis 
> in evidence for suggesting that intellectual capacity is correlated with 
> brain size in the gross way that Darwinists sometimes suggest and there is 
> evidence which indicates such a view must be mistaken (the systematic 
> differential between human male and female brain capacity which is not 
> reflected in the IQ of the sexes).

But no-one says that absolute brain size is correlated with intelligence.
Scientists know very well that you have to correct for body size, and when
that is done men, women, Zulus and pygmies are all the same, and
H. erectus, H. habilis and the australopithecines all fall between modern
humans and apes (Walker and Leakey "The Nariokotome Homo erectus skeleton"
1993; Tobias JHE 16:741-61)

>     JF
> >5. Pelvic construction.  While certainly not a human pelvis, Lucy's pelvis
> >resembles a human more than a chimp.  The pelvis is a good indicator of
> >locomotion, and Lucy's indicates that she was bipedal when on the ground
> >(which was probably not all the time).  The australopithecine pelvis Sts 
> >14 also belonged to a bipedal creature.
> Darwinists have latched onto Lucy's pelvic construction as being the sole 
> anatomical characteristic that _could_ be consistent with an erect or semi-
> erect posture, and it is this that they harp on at every opportunity (for 
> instance it is the central plank in the Lucy exhibit in the London Natural 
> History Museum.)  I say it _could_ be consistent because it is abundantly 
> clear to any open minded observer who takes the trouble to investigate the 
> matter that Lucy's feet, hands, arms, body and musculature are those of an 
> arboreal ape, that her feet are even longer and more curved than a 
> chimpanzee's and hence the best bipedal gait that Lucy could manage would 
> be worse than the worst chimpanzee you have ever seen.

Rubbish.  The reason chimps can't easily walk upright has mostly to do with
their pelvis and knee.  The features Richard cites are no more incompatible
with bipedality than they are with quadrupedality.  There is abundant
evidence that Lucy walked upright
( and no qualified scientist
I know of disputes it.

>     RM
> >>> Australopithicines like Lucy have their skulls joined to their spines 
> >>> like apes, they have long curved hands and feet for grasping branches 
> >>> (longer and more curved than a chimpanzee for instance) and their teeth 
> >>> are those of an ape.
> >>> Show me a fossil that has feet, teeth and skull posture halfway 
> >>> between an ape's and a human's and I'll be very interested to see it.

I should point out that this is a fairly unrealistic requirement.  There
isn't a single fossil hominid older than about 100,000 years that has all
3 of these parts.  There are a handful of fossils that have two of them.
Nor would it be expected that any individual ever existed in which all
of these characteristics are "halfway" between apes and humans, since
body parts do not have to evolve at the same time or rate.  Bipedalism
occurred before human-like teeth, which occurred before the rest of the
skull became humanlike.

> >JF
> >Teeth: look at A. afarensis, A. africanus, H. habilis, H. erectus.
> I have looked at them.  See the commentary by Cremo and Thompson quoted 
> above regarding Australopithecine teeth. The species of homo you refer to 
> have human teeth for the very good reason that they are human fossils.  

Cremo and Thompson, and you, have ignored the A. africanus teeth I
mentioned and talked only about the more apelike afarensis.

> >Skull posture: look at Sts 5
> >
> See Zuckermann quote on skull posture above

> >Feet: almost none available.  There is OH 8, which seems to be bipedal but 
> >isn't a modern human.
> You've confirmed my point.  There are no fossils with anything 
> other than ape-like feet.

Huh??  My point was that OH 8 does NOT have ape-like feet.  How can anyone
take a reference to a "bipedal" foot to imply that it is ape-like? It is a
human-like, bipedal foot, even though it doesn't belong to a modern human.

There is also a recent find, Stw 573 with a mixture
of ape and human characteristics.

> As I said last time, this doesn't mean 
> such fossils will never be found, but it does mean the kind of Darwinist 
> certitude exhibited here by Jim is completely unsupported in scientific 
> evidence -- merely by Darwinist opinion.
> >Posture: Lucy and Sts 14 already show bipedality and a pelvis quite 
> >similar to those of humans.
> Your claim that Lucy 'shows bipedality' is scientifically meaningless.  OK, 
> she has two feet.  But they are incapable of supporting an erect posture 
> because they are adapted for arboreal life.  The claim about the pelvis is 
> possibly correct, but a pelvis capable of an erect posture is no use if you 
> have the feet, hands, arms, musculature and body of an arboreal ape, as 
> Lucy (and all Australopithecines) have.

Almost all the quotes you gave for Lucy concerned her upper body.  Just
because she used her arms for climbing doesn't mean she couldn't have
walked bipedally.  In fact, all scientists I know of, including the ones
you quoted (Stern, Susman, Oxnard) accept that Lucy walked bipedally.  They
see no incompatibility between bipedality and arboreality.

Can you find a single scientific article claiming that Lucy wasn't

Claiming that Lucy couldn't walk on two legs because of her arboreal
adaptations is as silly as saying that chimps can't walk on four legs
because of their arboreal adaptations.  The bipedality vs. quadrupedality
issue is a separate question from whether they were arboreal.

> >Bipedality: the earliest hominid pelvises we have are already bipedal.
> This is meaningless.  All the humans we know have always had two feet and 
> walked erect.  So what's new?

I was talking about the Lucy and Sts 14 (A. africanus) pelvises, not human

> RM
> I don't reject radiometric dating out of hand. I say that it is inherently 
> unreliable in ways that are unpredictable.  But I would accept significant 
> morphological change in fossils (of any kind) found in rocks that are 
> securely associated geologically in sequence, without knowing their 
> absolute age.  I'd have to consider each case on its merits -- except, of 
> course, that you have failed to provide any cases for me to consider.
> I now repeat: where is your sequence of 'missing link' fossils, Jim?

Not much point discussing sequences until we clarify the status of the
links in those sequences.

Jim Foley

In theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice they're not.

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