Re: Reputation of Sigrid Hartwig-Scherer
Sat, 28 Aug 1999 16:05:33 +0000

At 12:12 PM 08/18/1999 -0500, James Mahaffy wrote:
>I am annotating a book mainly by IDers entitled Mere Creation edited by
Dembeski and published by IV Press. I picked it up at the ASA meetings.
It has papers by a number of IDers some of whom I know well, but there are
others whose reputations I do not know. For instance Sigrid Hartwig-Sherer
writes on the hominoid fossil record. The references indicate someone who
appears to have gotten into the primary literature - but I don't know that
literature well enough to know how good the author's academic reputation
is? Do David Wilcox or Glen Morton or someone else out there know more
about this person and his academic reputation.
>If any of you some strengths or weaknesses of the book, I would also
appreciate it. My initial take (not having more than glanced at it), is it
would be a good place for student interested in the ID movement to learn
more about it.

Hi James,

I have now read the article. I don't have a great deal of factual
criticism of the article. What I have is a great big ho-hum for the thesis.
THe articles is Sigrid Hartwig-Scherer "Apes or Ancestors?" in Mere
Creation pp 212-235.

Hartwig-Scherer has proposed a typology in which Ardipithecus and
Australopithecus are placed in one Basic Type, H. ergaster, erectus and
Neanderthal and mondern men are in another basic type. She argues against
the existence of H. habilis as a taxonomic grouping.

What is interesting is that she presents nothing novel, indeed many
anthropologists have argued very similar taxonomies.

She starts by saying that hybridization is the best evidence for lumping
two species into the same basic type. IF they can hybridize, they are the
same basic type. After this as the main criterion, she spends precious
little time talking about hybridization. THis is not unexpected since one
can't hybridize dead bones. However, it does seem odd to define one's
taxonomy upon something that can't be observed. As a secondary criterion
she argues ontogeny as a criterion. She applies that to differentiate
chimp from man stating that ethical problems prevent the hybridization of
chimps and man, which of course is true.

When applying her ideas to fossil man, she hones in on OH62, a Homo habilis
and argues that habilis can't be an intermediate between Australopithecus
and Homo because OH62 is more apelike in many ways than is Lucy (AL288-1).
But once again, this is nothing new.

"Primates that habitually climb in the trees have longer arms than legs,
while bipeds and leaping primates have longer legs than arms. For example,
chimps have a ratio of 100 percent or slightly more, meaning that their
arms and legs are nearly equal in length; the extremely arboreal gibbon has
a ratio of 132 percent. earthbound humans have a ratio of 70 percent.
(Unfortunately, we couldn't take the measurements needed to calculate the
ratio on 3735, because its bones were too incomplete.) The Nature paper
said that OH62 had a ratio that was close to 95 percent: only a little more
human than a chimp's ratio. Even Lucy, a representative of a species
ancestral to (and thus closer to apes than) OH 62, was more human than OH
62 in this regard. Although both petite and long-armed, Lucy's ratio was
estimated at 85 percent." ~ Alan Walker and Pat Shipman, The Wisdom of the
Bones, (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1996), p. 131
"If there is one attribute that has defined habilis from the very
beginning, it is its intermediate position between australopithecines and
Homo erectus. That is why I don't like habilis as a species; something is
all wrong with it and always has been. I don't think it is disloyal to my
old advisor, John Napier, to say that he got it wrong (for once) when he
participated in naming and defining Homo habilis." ~ Alan Walker and Pat
Shipman, The Wisdom of the Bones, (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1996), p. 133

She then concludes by postulating that modern humans arose in the Middle
east and sent out 3 waves of migration from that area: H. erectus/ ergaster
with ergaster going into AFrica; Neanderthal who went into Asia and Modern
humans who then replaced everyone. This out of Near East model has no
support as far as I can see. Anatomically modern peoples are first found
at 130,000 years ago in far south Africa (Klasies River Mouth -Donald C.
Johanson, Lenora Johanson, and Blake Edgar, Ancestors, (New York: Villard
Books, 1994), p. 239) and at 90-100 kyr in the middle east (Chris Stringer,
"The Dates of Eden", Nature, 331, Feb. 18, 1988. p. 565). Such data goes
against her model.

She also claims that Ubeidiya is more than 2 million years old. Ubeidiya is
a H. erectus site. She cites a 1982 article for that data. However, more
recent dating has convinced a majority of anthropologists that the site is
between 1.5-1.0 myr old.

"The sites in this landscape are old, but how old is still uncertain. A
date of 1.5 Myr represents the oldest estimate while 0.7 Myr to 1 Myr
indicates an upper range which I would support. The 'Ubeidiya material now
has a wider context with the discovery in 1991 of a robust mandible
excavated from beneath a medieval castle at Dmanisi in the Caucasus
mountains of Georgia. In an excavation measuring only 3 m by 1 m the
excavators struck lucky. Lying beneath the skulls of two saber-toothed
tigers was the hominid mandible that preliminary studies suggest is Homo
erectus. Simple stone tools and a rich fauna with ostrich and extinct
bears, wolves, rhinos, and horses were also found. The archeology lies
above a basalt plug dated to 1.8 Myr and the excavatgors favore a date of
1.6 Myr for their finds. Further work is planned and some downward
revision of the age may be necessary." ~ Clive Gamble, Timewalkers,
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), p. 127-128.

see also:
Kathy D. Schick and Nicholas Toth, Making Silent Stones Speak, (New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1993), p.268

Adrienne L. Zihlman and Jerold M. Lowenstein, "A Spanish Olduvai?" Current
Anthropology, 37:4(Aug.-Oct. 1996), p. 695-697, p. 847

Vadim A. Ranov, Eudald Carbonell, and Xose Pedro Rodriguez, "Kuldara:
Earliest Human Occupation in Central Asia in Its Afro-Asian Context,"
Current Anthropology, 36:2, April 1995, p. 337-346, p. 342

Roy Larick and Russell L. Ciochon, "The African Emergence and Early Asian
Dispersals of the Genus Homo."American Scientists, 84(Nov/Dec, 1996), p. 544

I could go on with this list.

She presents almost no data in support of her modification of
anthropological history. All in all, having heard of this work from
creationist friends, and not having read any of her stuff until now, I
wonder why creationists are giving her such a big PR. I see nothing that
solves the creationist problem except her adherence to basic type taxonomy
which is not very different from normal taxonomies.


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