Great Apes again (was: Red Ape book...)

Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG
Fri Jan 7 13:48:34 CST 2005

Well, there's a fourth alternative: that given the conflicting data, no
reliable decision can be made. It's as though that we are going to treat our
fellow quasi-sentients worse if they are not our closest little brothers; we
treat all hominoids badly.

Richard H. Zander
Bryology Group
Missouri Botanical Garden
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-----Original Message-----
From: Ken Kinman [mailto:kinman2 at YAHOO.COM]
Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 12:14 PM
Subject: [TAXACOM] Great Apes again (was: Red Ape book...)

Dear All,
      After reading the posting on the Red Ape book, I revisited John
Grehan's potential synapomorphy listings once again.  Quite a few of those
listed for a hominid-orangutan clade still appear to be non-independent of
one another and could be combined to produce a shortened list.  At the same
time, evidence for a Pan-hominid clade is downplayed, including the omission
of characters such as:  (1) axis of ear bones not at an acute angle
(Shoshani et al. #103); (2) upper I2 occlusal edge does not slope distally
(Shoshani et al. #161); and (3) basal keel of lower canines absent (Shoshani
et al. #163).

      Grehan also fails to enumerate characters which unite the African
(Gorilla-Pan-hominid) clade to the exclusion of orangutans, and here I list
just some of the more interesting ones from Shoshani et al.:
  (#102) middle ear deepened (more than 8.5 mm)
  (#104) area of inner ear greater than 50 square mm
  (#106) strong klinorhynchy (orangutans are apparently even less
klinorhynchous than gibbons).
  (#111) frontal sinus present
  (#114) orientation of zygomatic bone very superolateral
  (#175) postprotocrista of upper dP4 very well-developed

      In conclusion, even if one only looks at morphological characters, it
seems to me that he continues (1) to overstate the case for a
hominid-orangutan clade: (2) to understate the case for a hominid-chimp
clade; and (3) MOST IMPORTANTLY, failing to seriously evaluate the third
alternative that neither of these is correct, and that hominids split off
between an orangutan clade and a chimp-gorilla clade.  This third
possibility would certainly explain why hominids have similarities to both
orangutans AND to the African apes.  Ignoring this very viable third
hypothesis is something that both sides of the debate might eventually
regret in retrospect.  I must admit that because it is a sort of "middle
ground" between those two sides of the debate, it just makes it all the more
attractive to me.  In any case, this is a three-way debate (NOT just two).
    ---- Ken Kinman

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