Article on orangutans and human evolution

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Thu Mar 3 10:05:33 CST 2005

For anyone interested I can provide a pdf copy of the following article:


Grehan, J.R. 2005. Orangutans and the enigma of human evolution. The
Systematist 24: 3-7. (Newsletter of The Systematics Association).


The article provides a brief outline presenting the validity of Jeffrey
Schwartz's orangutan theory of human origins. I do take a rather pointed
approach to the issue - naturally given my partisan position on the
matter. The article is headed by the following bullet: 


"Orangutans are our nearest living relatives. That is the unequivocal
story of morphological systematics. Ignoring this evidence, in favor of
genetic similarity linking humans and chimpanzees, calls into question
the continued existence of morphological systematics as a science."


So whether I am right or wrong in my views, I've put my argument and
interpretation of the evidence on the line. I feel strongly that the
orangutan question is not only critical for understanding human
evolution, but it also opens up another general and (as far as I can
see) largely avoided issue - the independent scientific validity of
morphological systematics. On the orangutan question, scientific insight
will only come when traditionalists directly examine the evidence and
present comparisons of the orangutan and chimpanzee characters in the
literature. This has not happened for over two decades now, and this
absence of counter-argument renders the scientific status of
paleoanthropology problematic. Whatever your individual take on that
perspective, I hope your will find the article interesting.


John Grehan


Dr. John R. Grehan

Director of Science and Collections

Buffalo Museum of Science1020 Humboldt Parkway

Buffalo, NY 14211-1193

email: jgrehan at

Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372



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Human evolution and the great apes



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