Re: Re[2]: study teleology? function<=>teleology

Glenn R. Morton (
Mon, 10 Aug 1998 20:16:56 -0500

At 10:15 AM 8/10/98 -0700, Gladwin Joseph wrote:
>I fail to
>understand a nonteleological approach in functional biology or for
>that matter even in evolutionary biology/anthropology. Ex. What is
>the purpose for an ancient bone with a `chiselled' hole in it at one

I am fascinated by this example because it does show how difficult to
determine not only function, but design itself.

For example, your example. Do the chisel marks appear to be stone tool
marks or tooth marks (that is are the chisel scratches v-shaped or
u-shaped.). Has wear and tear smoothed away all the chisel marks so that
one can't determine what tool made the hole? If so, design and function
become even more difficult.

What size is the bone? Size plays a big role in determining function. A
large bone with a hole in it might be a 'bull-roarer' which is a
noise-maker which is swung around your head on a rope. If it is a small
bone, it might be part of a necklace.

Does the hole go all the way through the bone? It might be part of a flute
if it only goes though one surface into the center.

What part of the animal is the bone from? Is the hole perfectly round or

How big is the bone and the hole? Some holes can be made by the gastric
juices in a hyena's stomach. Hyenas eat a meal, walk home then regurgitate
the food for their young. Holes made in this fashion are usually very small.

As you can see, design and function are very difficult to determine.

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