Posted: Jul 09, 2014 7:39 am
by Jayjay4547
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: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... Come, if you think “endurance running” has some relevance to australopith antipredation, then make the point.

BOLDING shows restored snips from what I had said.

It is quite simple for anyone who understands the evidence, rather than clings to ideological fairytales.

I don’t cling to ideological fairy tales, i just argue that the understanding and presentation of evolution has been influenced by atheist ideology. My approach is naturalistic, though I attach more to the word “nature” than you might.
Sendraks wrote: If Australopiths were capable of using weapons to defend against attacks from large predators, why then did its later ancestors not leave evidence of equal or more advanced tool use?

Later ancestors did leave such evidence, in the form of advanced tool making, the Oldowan culture was immediately followed by the Acheulean technology.

Sendraks wrote: Why did homo sapiens evolve as a persistence hunter before turning to spears and more complex hunting methods?

A hand-held sharpened stick capable of piercing a hide isn’t part of a complex hunting method. In the Wiki entry on persistence hunting, complex hunting methods is taken to include bows and arrows, slings and thrown spears.
Sendraks wrote: If australopiths were as adapt at weapon use as you claim and it did confer an advantage, why didn’t their successor hominids make use of it?

I wouldn’t quite claim that defensive weapon use conferred an advantage. rather, it was an essential admission ticket to the resources of the savannah. At any rate, their successor hominids did make use of this capacity. Early Homo genus spread out of Africa over much of Eurasia, through widely differing biomes with different predators- including bears which you mention later. Modern man followed the same routes – and interestingly , the ancestry of living leopards apparently accompanied them. When modern man reached the Americas and Australia, their arrival coincided with the extinction of existing predators.
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: 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.

A sharpened stick capable of deterring a predator, especially a large predator, is a sophisticated tool. You seem to understand that clearly not just any sharpened stick will do,

No,i don’t understand a sharpened stick to be a sophisticated tool; that term is universally understood to mean something like a bow and arrow. I don’t have clear understanding of how long or heavy an optimal “stopper’ would have been. All I know is that a pointed stick in the hands of a biped creates a problem for a hostile quadruped, stopping it, taking initiative from it and making it vulnerable to a strike.

Sendraks wrote: but you don’t seem to appreciate the mental faculties required to properly asses what constitutes the right sort of stick.

I don’t rely on mental faculties of the hominin, any more than the mental faculties of a pom-pom crab to select the right species and size of anemone. I rely on natural selection. See Boesch (1991) for fascinating account on chimps using found sticks to harass a trapped leopard.

"I arrived at the site at 13:45 hrs and saw the chimpanzees around another large fallen tree under which the leopard was trapped in a deep and narrow hole. The leopard roared without interruption for the rest of the observation, barking loudly whenever it tried to strike the chimpanzees w i t h i t s paw. For the next 42 minutes, they s e t t l e d around the entrance, some grooming, others j u s t s i t t i n g or e v e n laying on the ground near the hole entrance. Now and then, females with youngsters neared t h e entrance and look advantage of the rare opportunity to have a close and safe look at a leopard. Some regularly threatened the animal. Seven times different Chimpanzees were seen to take a piece of a fallen branch and use it as a club, repeatedly trying to h i t or stab the leopard in its hole (average, of 4.44 strikes per instance), each time the leopard barked in response and jumped forward out of its shelter to hit the hand of the chimpanzee holding the club, seemingly unsuccessfully. But before it could try to escape from the hole, the noisy reaction of the group, with a minimum of 3 adults rushing towards it, forced it back to its refuge. The small entrance hole (about 70 cm at its highest point and narrowing down towards the leopard) prevented the chimpanzees from taking effective action and at 14.32 hrs i.e. 2 hours 22 minutes after the first sighting, they left the site, the leopard silently leaving the hole 11 minutes later.”

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: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.

You have presented no evidence to demonstrate that the pomp om crab is “taught” to form a symbiotic relationship with the sea anemone. Your understanding of the natural world is shocking in its ignorance.

Well before this habit “evolved” crabs didn’t have the know-how that an anemone could be used as a defensive weapon, that ‘”potential” was not expressed anywhere. Afterwards, this know-how came to be embedded in the genome and expressed in the phenotype. And when people noticed it, they learned something which they wrote up in Wikipedia, were it became “knowledge”. it’s all learning, that’s what we do along with the rest of nature.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: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.

In a group dynamic, no one else’s tools are put to the test so there is no trial and error of those tools. And the individual who failed the test is not in any position to inform anyone of what they’ve learned.

If the other troop members just stood around and waited for a leopard and its chosen victim slugged it out, they wouldn’t be behaving adaptively or much like other primates. More likely they would all pile in and take note of which actions were most telling. Sure, whole troops that failed to muster the right techniques or needed courage or numbers, must have been snuffed out many times. Africa is not for sissies, she is a harsh teacher.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: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. .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.

Your limited anecdotal experience is noted. Any further claims that you know much about dogs will be summarily ignored. You clearly know jack and shit, both of which left town.

Fair enough, if you redact the experiences I recount, as you did.
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: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.

You don’t seem to understand the point being made. If australopiths were as adept at weapon use as you claim, why doesn’t this sophisticated weapon use manifest in early homo sapiens?

As i said before, a sharpened stick and a river stone whether worked or not, are not sophisticated weapons. It would take a specifically adapted body to wield those unsophisticated tools against mammalian predators, especially social ones like lion and hyena and hunting dog.
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: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”

Simple explanation vs predators.
1. Group size vs predators.
2. Australopiths were clearly not that successful given they are not around today.

Your point 1 is often made, supported by the fact that baboons and chimps both move in troops and concentrate against some predators. But both are physically equipped to be able to hurt their predators by biting and using their powerful arms to tear those bites into gashes. Conspicuously, the australopiths didn’t have the necessary fangas.

A large part of the human self-visioning has to do with that lack. Almost everyone would agree that humans are animals and mammals but the term “beasts” is reserved for the Other and a “beast” is popularly rendered with fangs, talons, horns and a shaggy coat; all implied in a fighting antipredation .


The innocent little hominin cast naked into this field of fierceness like the hopper stage of an angel, might just be a figment created by an accident of taphonomy; he had a fang and he had a horn but they weren’t permanently attached to him.
Your point 2 has three problems. First, the Australopiths lasted for about 10 times longer than Homo sapiens has managed so far. Second, they embodied the basic body plan of creatures that have spread throughout the world and whose success has now created a planetary crisis. Third, whatever their success, it was enough to have left enough fossils to raise the issue of how this little angel cold have survived on the savannah.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:There are no bears in Africa..

No shit Sherlock. Again you miss the point by a country mile.

What was your point then?
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:The Oldowan culture is known as a ‘pebble culture” but the pebbles weren’t small.

As a rule, pebbles are small. Even large pebbles are still small. They’re not going to do much to deter a large predator.

The Oldowan culture is sometimes called a pebble culture because it is amongst river pebbles that the hominins selected their tools. But as I said below, the Oldowan hand axes weren’t small. They were embarrassingly crude for an ancestor of ours, maybe because the stones that have kept their integrity while rolling and scraping down rivers are the most difficult stones to knock flakes off. The jump to Acheulean technology might mark the invention of mining and trade not a jump in competence.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: A geologist friend of mine remarked to me how large an Oldowan hand axe is- and my friend has unusually large hands himself.

A large hand axe is not a pebble and is fuck all use for deterring a predator. There is no evidence to suggest that a hand held object of such size would deter, let alone stop, an ambush predator.

An Oldowan hand axe is a product of the pebble culture. I’m not suggesting that it could deter a predator, that would be the function of a stopper tool. But a hand-held Oldowan hand axe might break a predator’s skull.
Jayjay4547 wrote: We’ll let chimpanzees know that they’re doing it wrong. Not to mention every other animal species that travels in a large group.

Jayjay4547 wrote: I’m talking about chimps, not baboons.

You said, “not to mention every other animal species that travels in a large group” Baboons are one of those.
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: 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.

Chimps do not have “fangs” they have large canine teeth.

Google Images has many pics identified by “chimp fangs” The relevant point is that the australopiths didn’t have eye teeth at all like that.


Sendraks wrote: These canine teeth are great for fighting each other, but of limited use vs a large ambush predator.

Those fangs are great for killing other chimps, and what might kill a chimp might maim or kill a leopard. see
Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote:The pom-pom crab shows that high mental faculties are irrelevant to acquiring a habit of Carrying around d a foreign object for defense.

Forming a symbiotic relationship with another creature =/= selecting and using a tool.

The crab doesn’t know the word “symbiosis”; it selects a particular species of anemone or a particular size and sticks it on its claws, for use in defense. Incidentally I see it’s also called a “boxing” crab- reportedly because the anemones look like boxing gloves. But I wonder if it doesn’t make feinting motions like a boxer.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: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.

Many animals are capable of grabbing sticks and yet so few actually do.

Yes, I pointed out what might make the criteria for adopting this habit very narrow. The narrower the criteria, the more particular and interesting the origin narrative. If anthropology ever shakes the monkey of atheism on its back it might evolve towards a discipline like history.

Sendraks wrote:
Jayjay4547 wrote: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.

I’ve explained to you repeatedly the features of the australopith that would make it an able climber. I’m not going to explain them again. Your fixation with feet to the ignorance of everything else demonstrates classic creationist cherry picking.

All you have said is that the australopiths had powerful arms and can grasp branches.. I don’t have a fixation on feet, they are just significant evidence against an adaptation to out-climb a leopard-like predator. Have you ever watched arboreal monkeys or baboons in a tree? Those things live in three dimensions like the birds. We don’t , because we inherited the australopith’s feet.
Sendraks wrote:
I’m not sure you understand how irrelevant this is.

Help me to understand.

Sendraks wrote:
Well no, given the horns are usually on top of the head and the throat underneath. Going through the head to get to the throat would be a nonsense.

Here are some shots of a lion that was tactically unable to turn the flank of a buck standing in the water, got lunged at and left.


The write-up on this sequence called the lion a fraidy-cat but truly she was just being practical.
Sendraks wrote:
I’m not using science?
One of us is explaining what the available evidence demonstrates.

In the first couple of paragraphs of your post you gave a straight forward discussion but then you descended to pouring scorn without follow-up. Some samples:
Your understanding of the natural world is shocking in its ignorance
Your limited anecdotal experience is noted. Any further claims that you know much about dogs will be summarily ignored. You clearly know jack and shit, both of which left town.
No shit Sherlock. Again you miss the point by a country mile
Your imaginings s are hilarious and sadly out of touch with reality
Chimps do not have “fangs” they have large canine teeth
I’m not sure you understand how irrelevant this is

To support that ploy you snipped my argument leaving only the preamble, to give the impression that I hadn’t made one. I put back those snips in bold. It’s OK to snip but one should be scrupulous to show the argument.
And you haven’t linked to a single outside source. That’s not science. Like me, you are just having a discussion.
Sendraks wrote: The other one of us, this would be you JayJay, is just making shit up to fit with a creationist ideology.

Nah. I’ve been presenting an argument that scientists have looked at australopiths for nearly a hundred years, without recognising that they were looking at an animal whose distinctive features arose from its unique habit of defending itself using sticks and stones.
Sendraks wrote:
What story? Scientists just inform of us of what the available evidence supports.
Story telling about creation is the provenance of the creationists, wooheads and sundry religious types who persist in pursuing intellectually redundant creation myths.

Whenever text is written about past events of our ancestry that forms an origin narrative.

Sendraks wrote:
If you understood anything about the abundance of evidence that supports evolution, you’d understand that it is very much about how all the creatures in the world, and the environment, are molded by each other. Evolution does not treat any one creature as being the sole “actor” in the world.

If anthropologists ignored the ways that predators, sticks and stones molded the bodies and minds of our ancestor australopiths then they ignored evolution, in the human origin narrative.

Sendraks wrote: That humans should be treated as the sole significant “actor” is very much the purview of religion.

You should read the Bible, that treats God as the actor and teacher and Mankind as the balky learner.

I’m sincerely sorry about the length of this post. Time constraints prevent me from shortening it. I have to focus now on a job that has become urgent.