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(1449) Mon 30 Dec 96 14:29 By: DAVID RICE To: BILL WOLFF Re: Wolff the fundy liar BW> please tell us where mankind came from? From our ancestors, silly fundy. From Joel Hanes: The current hominid fossil situation is thus: we can trace the human line backwards, through a well-established bushy line of transitional fossils, through H. erectus and H. habilis into the Australopithecine species of the African Pliocene. These are not humans -- their skulls are quite different -- but they are fully bipedal, and the whole skeleton from the neck down is much more like a human than like any living or fossil ape. If they were alive today, we'd call them "apes", I'm sure, (the name "Australopitecus means "southern ape"), though they'd be much more human-seeming apes than either gorillas or chimps. I don't know much about the fossil record of chimps, bonobos, or gorillas. There's a gap in our fossil record of all African apes that covers the critical time (I think it's the late Miocene to early Pliocene); part of the gap is a historical accident, in that early and well-funded physical anthropologists such as Leakey and Johannsen went after the Pleistocene and Pliocene. Part of the gap may be due to environmental and climactic effects -- very few animals leave preserved fossils. Animals that die along rivers and lakeshores are fairly likely to be covered with mud and preserved; animals that live in forests are almost never preserved, since the forest-floor decomposers and the acid soil destroy the bones. The gap may also be a reflection of the real rarity of the animal we're looking for. Finally, I believe that few Miocene sediments are well known in Africa -- it often happens that the deposition from one era is almost wholly eroded in a succeeding one. So physical anthropologists haven't neccessarily been digging in the right places; the creatures may have been rare to begin with and rarely fossilized, and erosion during any of the ensuing millenia may have destroyed most of whatever fossils once existed. Yet, anthropologists are starting to concentrate on the Miocene -- I have hope that I'll live to see the First Hominid described. Here's a rude attempt at an ASCII diagram of our family tree as I think I understand it: Modern Gibbon Orangoutang Gorilla Humans Bonobo Chimp | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Nean- | | | Pleistocene | | | der- | | | | | | thal | | | | | | \ / | | | | | | | / | | | H. erectus | / | | | | | / | | | H. habilis | / | | / | | / | | / robust gracile | / | | | Australo- Australo- | / | | | pithe- pithe- |/ \ | | cines cines / \ | | \ / / \ | | ancestral / Pliocene \ | | Australo- / \ \ \ pithecus / \ \ \ \ / \ \ \ \ / \ \ \ Unknown first hominid: \ \ \ The last common ancestor \ \ \ of humans and any modern ape \ \ \ / \ \ \ / \ \ \ / Miocene \ \ \/ \ \ / \ \ / \ \ / \ \/ \ / Unknown first hominoid: the last common ancestor of humans and all modern apes Apologies for the crudity of representation. Criticism and corrections solicited. --- Joel Hanes ... Do YOU trust a religion that won't obey it's OWN laws? * Shy.David@EdenBBS.com --- Silver Xpress Mail System 5.4H1 * Origin: "She blinded me with science!" (1:124/9005) SEEN-BY: 124/1 9000 9005 218/890

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