Posted: Jul 07, 2014 6:25 am
by Jayjay4547
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:I’m not to be drawn on this “persistence hunter” notion.

You’re not one to let facts and evidence stand in the way of a good story.
I understand.

No you don’t understand. I’m not to be drawn into the “persistence hunter” notion unless you establish its relevance. I’ve been enticed into that delicious topic before but it’s irrelevant to australopith ecology.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:It has no relevance to the antipredation strategy of the australopiths, that isn’t about “sophisticated weapon use” as you put it.

It is relevant and if you had a clue about what you were talking about, you’d understand why.

You don’t yourself try to explain why because actually you by reflex raised the point that though humans are poor sprinters, they are better at endurance running. When I pointed out that was irrelevant to defense against predation you tried to make a point out of your referring to modern man which is also irrelevant to the role of antipredation in the australopiths. Now you try to make a point out of the air. Come, if you think “endurance running” has some relevance to australopith antipredation, then make the point.

Sendraks wrote: And the act of “sharpening a stick” is sophisticated weapon use. Unless you’re suggesting that any random stick would do or that australopiths were capable of selecting, by some means, exactly the right sort of sharpened stick to use against a large predator.

You cited “sophisticated weapon use” as what enabled homo sapiens to abandon “persistence hunting”- and that implies weapons like bows and arrows, (preferably poisoned), razor-sharp arrow and spear heads, wooden-handled stone axes or spears thrown using a throwing stick. Now you wish to classify a sharpened stick as sophisticated. And yes, through the mechanism of natural selection, australopiths would have learned how to select am optimal stick to hold off a large predator and also how to sharpen that stick maybe using chewing the edge, splitting by pounding, singeing in a fire or rubbing on a rock. Seeing that a pom pom crab can be taught through the same mechanism, to pull an anemone in two so as to have one in each claw, and seeing the utility of a sharpened stick for stopping a predator. Bear in mind also that the design of a stopper-tool is less critical than a striker. The other day I used a pair of fencing pliers to stop an annoying dog.

Sendraks wrote: Because, you know, trial and error in this scenario isn’t going to work so well.

On the contrary, the high consequence of a slightly better defensive tool for breeding would create steep fitness gradient towards the best. As well as drawing individual and social attention to the weapon as a survival aid.
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:I know a lot about dogs.

Apparently not.

I have had at least eleven dogs, ranging from terrier to Rhodesian ridgeback and as a surveyor I’ve come across a fairly wide variety of hostile dogs.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:I found that a variety of hostile dogs can be stopped by a proffered pointed stick.

You defend yourself against hostile dogs often then? Because I can think of a number of breeds that wouldn’t be deterred by anything less than high calibre firepower.

In my experience a dog won’t throw itself upon a ranging rod, reflector pole or GPS pole. It will try to get around the side and in the mean time it’s lost the initiative and would have made itself vulnerable to a striker tool. Of course the high significance to a predator on hominins is that having lost the initiative, it would need to get away before the troop could concentrate against it.
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:– and descendants adept at weapon-using defense- these all support the inference.

Which came so much later in hominid evolution, any link to australopiths is beyond tenuous at best.

Modern descendants of the australopiths inherit major body-plan features with them; bipedal stance, arch-footed, grip suitable for throwing and clubbing. These aren’t tenuous links.
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:According to Wikipedia Australopithecus garhi is associated with the emergence of Oldowan pebble tools. This inference is strong enough to be taken seriously, it’s not to be sneered away.

I certainly wouldn’t sneer it away. But I’d also point out that it is evidence which does not support your assertion of weapon use.

If you ignore the inference then you need to find a plausible explanation for the existence of a non-fanged non-horned 1.4m tall biped in an environment shared with up to 8 plausible predators. The savannah was their larder, not a modern “game park”
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:Keeping the predator at bay using a sharpened stick and then skewering it with sticks or smashing in its skull with large pebbles.

Do you have any idea of the resilience and relative strength of the kind of sharp stick required to skewer a large predator? These are not things that are just found randomly lying around. And as for “large pebbles” to stand a chance of crushing a the skull of leopard or tiger or equivalent, you’re talking rocks, sizeable rocks. And this is just big cats we’re talking about. Bears would be a different story altogether.

There are no bears in Africa.. The Oldowan culture is known as a ‘pebble culture” but the pebbles weren’t small. A geologist friend of mine remarked to me how large an Oldowan hand axe is- and my friend has unusually large hands himself. I envisage that a predator would lose the initiative through being unwilling to skewer itself and then in a few seconds it would face the prospect of multiple skewering and clubbing by the converging troop.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:The direction of adaptive pressure is logically towards reducing the number of prey individuals who could mount a credible defense. Scenarios that envisage a large troop moving in close defensive array are unrealistic because that isn’t an efficient foraging pattern.

We’ll let chimpanzees know that they’re doing it wrong. Not to mention every other animal species that travels in a large group.

I’ve watched foraging baboons whenever the opportunity arises and they move in open array, each focusing on what is available close by. With frequent upward glances. And with structured warning system in place.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: Primates generally are great biters, far as I know we are the only living exception

Yup, chimps have a pretty nasty bite and they’re closer to australopiths than we are.

Goodness, you haven’t taken my very basic point starting point; that the australopiths, unlike chimps, didn’t have fangs. That’s one way that australopiths are closer to humans than they are to chimps. Apart from being much closer in terms of relatedness.
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:Once again, I present the pom pom crab as evidence that no high mental faculty is needed for carrying around a foreign object for defense.

That a symbiotic relationship exists between anemones and crabs is in no way analogous to the thought processes required to fashion weapons to defend against a large land dwelling predator.

The pom-pom crab shows that high mental faculties are irrelevant to acquiring a habit of Carrying around d a foreign object for defense. It’s actually more puzzling how this crab habit could have evolved: It’s instinctive to try to fend off a predator and to grab a stick would occur to any prey species capable of grabbing a stick. The narrowness of the adoption criteria is more not having a nearby tree to shin up, or not being a better climber than the predator. Where mental faculty comes in lies in the ability of the brain to control foreign objects at speed, with precision and decision in the face of a large intelligent predator whose weapons are part of its body, filled with sensors instantly telling it about body attitude. It’s our inherited facility with foreign objects that make humans relatively good tennis layers, golfers and football players.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:A primate would need hind feet adapted to grasping branches, if it were to be able to avoid predation by climbing away from a tree-climbing felid.

No it doesn’t. You’re specifying an adaption that isn’t necessary for climbing trees, only one that is required for a purely aboreal lifestyle. You are blatantly ignoring the physical attributes of the australopith that I’ve pointed out.

Picture a troop of baboons in a roosting tree in the Moreni reserve, being hunted by a leopard. Now imagine them having feet like an australopith and picture how well they would get along, walking on the branches.

Sendraks wrote: There is nothing to suggest that australopiths were dangerous to predators from any angle. A homo sapiens is only dangerous to predators if not surprised and/or attacked from the front. A leopard piling into the sides or back of homo sapiens is going to have much the same effect on an australopith.

Any prey taken unawares is in a hopeless position. I demonstrated, using moments of inertia, how a biped can much more easily face a new direction than can a quadruped. I see you haven’t followed that up.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:A predator on a gemsbok doesn’t just power over the horns. And a biped is relatively difficult to take in flank.

Well no. Partly because the horns are dangerous, partly because the skull is very thick. But I’ve seen plenty of examples of predators going straight for the throat, rather than the flanks of the animal. Whereas if all they have for defence is pebbles and sharpened sticks and you are a predator the size of a leopard, you can take em from the flank, front, back, above, whatever.

Yes horns are dangerous because they are pointy and vigorously handled. Of course predators go for the throat of certain prey like impala. But they don’t reach through or between the horns to get there.
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: You are relying a lot on bluster and Cali relies a lot on abuse.

Saying that scientists rely on evidence is not bluster.

It’s you Sendraks who has been relying on bluster. You are arguing on the side of the established human origin narrative constructed by scientists but you Sendraks aren’t using science. Not here and not now.
Sendraks wrote: The fact that you seem to think it is, speaks volumes of the quality of your argument, which is based on trying to shoehorn reality into a mythology which serves your own ends, rather expand our understanding of the natural world.

I’m particularly curious about the natural world and also about the story scientists build about the origin of our species. It’s curious that this story treats our ancestors as actors on the world rather than as creatures molded by other actors in the world.. Call me a rational skeptic. The mythology here isn’t mine, it’s the reactive and boring origin myth erected by atheist ideology. If science threw that monkey off its back it would just become more free.