Re: Your book review in PERSPECTIVES, page 222, of Morton's

Glenn R. Morton (
Wed, 26 Aug 1998 19:59:55 -0500

At 08:45 AM 8/25/98 -0500, J. McKiness wrote:
>Hi Glenn,
>Sorry but I disagree. You are comparing moderns with erectus. The
>peoples you mention have the needle something there is no evidence erectus
>had; so their clothing is better. At this point we have no evidence that
>erectus even had clothing at all, even the evidence for fire is
>uncertain. I think that migration into and out of the more extreme regions
>of their range is the most reasonable and the simplest explaination.

You make a very bad assumption. You assume that a needle was required to
make clothing. That is not true. The Fuegians apparently didn't sew their
skins into form-fitting cloths, but they had cloths in the form of pancho's
and they used them to keep warm at their 45 deg S. latitude homes.

"The Fuegians still lived, a few years ago, in little groups of a few
families, just large enough to feed themselves without going beyond the
resources of their hunting territory. The main part of their food was
acquired by hunting and fishing, but in order to bear the periods of
famine, they must have depended on the food resources provided by wild
plants and small animals, even insects. They lived in rounded huts built
with branches and brush and huddled around a small hearth, fed as much as
possible by pieces of broken bones. They had great resistance to cold:
They wore only a square piece of skin slung across their backs, just big
enough to cover them when they squatted, their backs turned against the
wind. Their domestic implements were reduced to the minimum: baskets woven
in the simplest manner, harpoons with stone points, rocks used as hammers
or pounders, thick end-scrapers, and knives. It is impossible to find in
the recent world a clearer example of what the Neanderthal mode of life
must have been." ~ Andre Leroi Gourhan, The Hunters of Prehistory, transl.
Claire Jacobson, (New York: Atheneum, 1989), p. 94-95

And I would like to know precisely why the following not considered
'evidence' of clothing or tents both of which are means of protecting one's
self from the cold?

"At the Acheulean site of Kalambo Falls in Zambia, probably between 200,000
and 400,000 years. And microwear analysis by Lawerence Keeley of flint
tools from the English sites of Clacton and Hoxne shows clear use-wear
patterns from woodworking on some implements, from hide scraping on others.
Artifacts made out of wood and hide are inferred from these polishes: as
previously discussed, wood could have served as spears, digging sticks,
pegs, or containers, while scraped hides could have served as containers,
clothing, or elements of architecture.
"This meager but tantalizing evidence suggests that there was probably a
range of perishable materials employed as tools, and again suggests a rich
invisible technology that rarely survives in the earlier prehistoric
record. Among recent Stone Age hunter-gatherers, tools made from organic
materials, such as wood and hide, are very common. The stones give us the
tip of the iceberg, perhaps, but an invaluable tip it is." ~ Kathy D.
Schick and Nicholas Toth, Making Silent Stones Speak, (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1993), p. 271

from hide.:

"I'm not suggesting that only Homo among the hominids used any kind of
tool at all. In fact, Swartkrans has strong evidence that the robust
australopithecines used at least one implement specifically adapted for
their diet. Bob Brain has marshaled a convincing case for a single type of
bone tool, based on his study of about sixty bones from the site. Like
Dart's Makapansgat 'tools,' most of these are simply limb-bone-shaft
fragments from various animals and antelope horn cores. All, however, have
a smooth, rounded tip at one end.
"Bob found himself wondering how such a distinctive pattern might form.
The answer dawned on him one day while he was excavating. 'In the softer
parts of the deposit I'd been using an ordinary screwdriver as a digging
tool,' he recalled as we drank tea by the Swartkrans site. 'The end had
gotten all worn and rounded, and that got me thinking that maybe these
bones were used for digging was well.'
"Knowing that the landscape around Swartkrans had changed little since
robust australopithecines roamed it, Bob looked for clues to what they
might have dug up. He noted that certain edible bulbs and tubers were
common beneath rocky scree slopes. Getting to them was the
challenge--unless, that is, you had some kind of tool. Bob climbed a
hillside near the cave and began digging with a wildebeest limb bone that
had been chewed apart by a hyena. Within half an hour, he had extracted an
edible lily bulb. After several more house of digging, the end of the bone
bore a distinct resemblance to those found at Swartkrans. Enlisting his
sons to continue to dig up tubers with different bones. Each time, the
same worn, rounded pattern appeared on the tips."

"Some of the fossil bones looked so worn at the tip that they must have
been used for several days. Bob began to wonder if the hominids carried
these digging sticks with them. Then he noticed that the wear scratches on
some specimens were obscured by a glassy polish. A similar sort of polish
occurs on modern bone tools used by hunter gatherers to burnish hides. Bob
speculates that the hominids may have made hide bags to carry tools and
tubers, and the glassy polish formed as the bones rubbed against the
leather. A few tiny, awl-like pieces of bone---the sort of tools that
could be used to puncture leather--- were also uncovered at Swartkrans." ~
Donald C. Johanson, Lenora Johanson, and Blake Edgar, Ancestors, (New York:
Villard Books, 1994), p. 163-165

>There is no shame in migrating out of areas you can not servive in.
>Hunters and gathers still do that where they can. Why wouldn't erectus?

Because it is too far. This is the same problem one has in explaining the
existence of Cretaceous polar dinosaurs. Some have suggested that they
migrated 5000 km/yr (which would be similarly needed for naked men and
women). Diring Yuriak is near Yakutsk, Siberia and is about 63 deg
latitude. It dates over 260,000 years ago.

"However, even during a warmer period the climate of this region would have
been severe, requiring the sophisticated use of fire, clothing, and shelter
for survival. Diring clearly shows that people developed early a
subsistence pattern that was capable of dealing with the rigorous
conditions in Siberia. It is unknown how long this occupation continued
and whether occupation in the Lena Basin extended uninterrupted into the
Upper Paleolithic or if the region was abandoned as people were pushed
south by returning glacial conditions. The extent of this occupation is
also unknown." ~ Michael R. Waters, Steven L. Forman, and James M.
Pierson,"Diring Yuriakh: A Lower Paleolithic Site in Central Siberia,",
Science, 275(Feb. 28, 1997):1281-1283, p. 1283

For naked men to survive lets assume that they need to migrate to 40
degrees north latitude. This is 23 degrees or 2600 kilometers. If these
ancient people moved into and out of the region each year that means that
they migrated 5200 km/year. And in my opinion they would have had to
migrate further than this. You live in Iowa. Desmoines is about 42 deg N.
latitude. Do you think you can spend next winter outdoors with no
clothing? It would be hard to do it here in Texas, even Dallas. But it
appears to be impossible for animals to engage in this type of long
distance migration each year. Consider this.

"If North Slope dinosaurs did have sufficient aerobic power to migrate
long distances, would they have migrated 6,000 to 9,000 km/yr in search of
the best seasonal food sources? The longest terrestrial migrations are
undertaken by barren-ground caribou, which move about 5,000 km/yr.
Barren-ground caribou are specialized migrators with the most
energy-efficient legs known. . The relatively heavy legs of hadrosaurs and
ceratopsids probably were less efficient. This implies that the migratory
performance of North Slope dinosaurs was not superior to that of caribou.
Besides, even caribou remain within a region only ~ 400 km across; no land
mammal escapes arctic winters by migrating far to the south. The failure
of any land mammal to move over 5,000 km/yr suggests that longer journeys
are too costly even for the most aerobically capable tetrapods. IT is,
therefore, improbable that dinosaurs migrated continent-spanning distances
to warmer climes."~ Gregory S. Paul, "Physiology and Migration of North
Slope Dinosaurs," in D.K. Thurston and K. Fujita eds. Proceedings of the
1992 International Symposium on Arctic Margins, Anchorage. Minerals
Management Service, 94-0040:405-408, p. 407

And I would say that it is unlikely that H. erectus or any other hominid
migrated the distances you want them to. It is an unworkable suggestion
which is contrary to the observational data.


Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information