Australopithecine birth

Glenn Morton (
Thu, 02 Apr 1998 22:25:55 -0600

This apparently didn't make it out yesterday or today. Apologies if this is
a multiple posting but it doesn't come back to me and doesn't appear on the

Being the father of 3 children one feels that he ought to know the details
of the facts of life but it has been 19 years since I witnessed the birth of
my youngest and I haven't thought about birth much since. I ran into the
following fascinating passage in an anthro book I was reading:

"Still, it's hard to resist speculating a little. For example, the
modification of the pelvis involved in bipedal anatomy presents human
mothers with a unique difficulty: one which has implications for social
cooperation. While the birth process in quadrupedal monkeys is less simple
and easy than has generally been believed, the neonate twists during its
passage through the birth canal to face the mother, who can thus assist in
its final emergence. In humans, on the other hand, the baby has to twist to
face away from the mother, who thus cannot provide such assistance for fear
of breaking its back. Neither can the mother attend by herself, as monkeys
can, to clearing mucus from the baby's nose and mouth to allow it to breathe
or to unwinding the umbilical cord from around the baby's neck. All these
attentions are frequently necessary, which is why midwifery is virtually
universal in human societies. It has been suggested that the involvement
of females other than the mother in the birth process goes right back to the
origins of bipedalism: and if so, this implies a level of cooperation and
coordination among early hominid females that goes far beyond that involved
in the occasional infant care by 'aunts' seen in other primates.
Inferential again, and subject to better knowledge of the birth process
among apes--but certainly suggestive."~Ian Tattersall, Becoming Human, (New
York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1998), p. 121-122

My questions are for those who might have more knowledge of the birth
process than I. Is it true that the human baby normally faces away from the
mother during birth? The Encyclopedia Britannica seems to indicate this.
Is it impossible for the mother to ensure that the mucus is cleared and the
umbilical cord unwrapped by herself without endangering the baby?

The importance of the speculation that Tattersall engaged in is that
hominnids have been bipedal for over 4.4 million years. And the social
implications, going "far beyond" that of other primates implies more
humanness among the Australopithecines than is usually believed.

Obviously, my interest is because I have suggested that spiritual man has
been on the earth for many millions of years.

Comments anyone?


Adam, Apes, and Anthropology: Finding the Soul of Fossil Man


Foundation, Fall and Flood