new hominid synapomorphy and thanks to all

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Tue Dec 28 21:48:06 CST 2004

Firstly, to end 2004 I want to thank all my interlocutors for some great feedback and interesting perspectives on my miscellaneous and usually pointed observations (some of the best actually off list). I find this list more satisfactory for dialogue than any conference or symposium I have experienced as it active, open ended and global in participation without the constraints imposed by conference scheduling. And even when I pick on things such as teleology that I must admit I do find irritating enough to jump on (sorry Ken!) I am always aware that my view is just one opinion among many. And I must express my appreciation to Richard Zander for having the insight to start it all off. I look forward to another year of interesting engagement. 

And to at least point in that direction it is with great pleasure that I announce another new synapomorphy (or at least a uniquely shared feature) between humans and orangutans. It seems that the posterior upper palate of both humans and orangutans is thickened or remains as thick compared with chimpanzees and all other primates (and even mammals in general) where the posterior upper palate becomes thinner. The human-orangutan condition is also found in fossil hominids (Homo, Australopithecus). Some of you may have seen published illustrations showing a posteriorally thinned upper palate for Australopithecus which is based on one specimen where the longitudinal break down the mid line is actually to one side and probably shows lateral, rather than posterior thinning. The 2004 scoreboard in the humanity stakes is currently: orangutans 43, chimpanzees 4 (maybe less). 

John Grehan

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