I may regret it, and many here who have had peace with me gone will also
regret it, but I have resubscribed since I have a few conversations going
and with this one.
Marco Pie wrote
>I just came across this review of Tattersall's new book "The Monkey in the
>Mirror; Essays on the Science of What Makes Us Human" by C. Loring Brace:
>Although I didn't read the book myself, I was surprised by the number of
>Tattersall's "unorthodox" ideas about evolutionary processes.
"In his view, then, the hominid fossil record should have been the product
of at least twenty different species, all but one of which has become
This is one of the things I have worried about Tattersall. He lets his
presuppositions get in the way of his data. This is why he and Schwartz
decided that some anomailies they thought they saw (or made up) in the noses
of Neanderthals qualified them for different species status. Of course to
claim that nasal differences require us to be different species, if appllied
to other traits, would force us to conclude that chinese and Europeans are a
different species! And then there is the problem of whether or not he is a
very capable observer. This is from PNAS:
Vol. 96, Issue 4, 1805-1809, February 16, 1999
Neandertal nasal structures and upper
respiratory tract "specialization"
(human evolution / Late Pleistocene / nasal morphology)
Robert G. Franciscus*
Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa, Iowa City,
Communicated by Erik Trinkaus, Washington University, St.
Louis, MO, December 11, 1998
(received for review November 11, 1998)
Schwartz and Tattersall [Schwartz, J. H. & Tattersall, I. (1996) Proc.
Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93, 10852-10854] have argued for a previously
unrecognized suite of autapomorphies in the internal nasal region of
Neandertals that make them unique, not only among hominids, but possibly
among all other terrestrial mammals. These purported autapomorphies
include (i) the development of an internal nasal margin bearing a well
developed and vertically oriented medial projection; (ii) a pronounced
medial swelling of the lateral nasal wall into the posterior nasal cavity;
and (iii) the lack of an ossified roof over the lacrimal groove. In
addition, Laitman et al. [Laitman, J. T., Reidenberg, J. S., Marquez, S. &
Gannon, P. J. (1996) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93, 10543-10545] pointed to
these features as evidence for upper respiratory tract specializations
among the Neandertals, indicating potential differences in behavior
compared with modern humans. Critically reviewing the anatomical basis for
Schwartz and Tattersall's contentions reveals several serious problems with
their analysis, including (i) reliance on specimens with damaged,
incomplete, or, in some cases, entirely absent relevant anatomy; (ii)
failure to consider primary vs. secondary spatial consequences in nasal
trait conceptualization; and (iii) failure to consider actual ranges of
variation in these traits in both fossil and recent humans. Accordingly,
the unique phylogenetic and adaptive "specializations" attributed to
Neandertal internal nasal structures are unwarranted.
His views are not really well respected, even among the anthropologists who
agree with him on some of the fundamental errors. When Tattersall criticized
the Neanderthal hybrid child found in Portugal, a rather famous
anthropologist who believes that there was little breeding between
Neanderthals and moderns felt that Tattersall had made up the data and he
told me that he frankly didn't trust the man in spite of being on the same
side of the argument.
I will say, though, Tattersall is a good writer as Brace notes.
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