Ardipithecus/Australopithecus transitional form?

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Sun Mar 6 11:36:52 CST 2005

I for one will be very interested to see the paper when it is published. I noticed that the web article has the usual hyperbole (such as "humankind's first walking ancestor" - I guess the authors either figure that Orrorin is out of the picture or that there cannot be any earlier bipedal fossils). 

Of course one would not expect any orangutan features to be mentioned even if they are present. After all, they were never mentioned for Australopithecus even though some were quite obvious. The trouble with some of these finds is that they are really not scientific. Until type material is freely accessible there is a section of the hominid fossil that remains in the realm of mysticism. 

I didn't see the reference to the Flores skeleton, but that's another quagmire with something dumped into Homo even though it has a good number of features not found in Homo and most certainly not Homo erectus - its claimed antecedent. Homo erectus itself is a mess as there are fossils that do not conform to the type. IThe Flores status needs to be considered with great skepticism until there is a resolution for the presence of a range of features that otherwise appear to be found only in apes, or just some or all early hominids. 

Since there is no open access to published Ardipithecus material it would seem that there is nothing independently verifiable to support the fossil being a direct part of the human lineage. Even its bipedal status is only inferred. That seems to be a major problem for hominid evolution, all it takes to achieve hominid status the discoverers claim and 'everyone' slavishly takes that to be reality without demanding independent verification or a really critical evaluation. It's a strange kind of metaphysics in play (that reality is what the discover claims it to be). I'm surprised that creationists have not made an issue of this. Surely it would be a tempting target. It bothers me a bit to see this most recent web article as science by propaganda which is what it really is in the absence of independent evaluation of the fossils and absence of publication (not that the latter is all that great as the usual publication route is a brief and taxonomically inadequate presentation in Nature or Science.

John Grehan


From: Taxacom Discussion List on behalf of Ken Kinman
Sent: Sun 3/6/2005 8:17 AM
Subject: [TAXACOM] Ardipithecus/Australopithecus transitional form?

Dear All,
      Here's an interesting news story about a new fossil hominid, perhaps bridging the Ardipithecus-Australopithecus gap (sorry John, no orangutan features mentioned, but doesn't mean it has chimp features either, so who knows).  It's the bipedal features that should be the most interesting.  Also about half down the story, there is a link to a story of the just-published brain-imaging of the Flores "Hobbitt".

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