A note on Peking Man

From: <glennmorton@entouch.net>
Date: Sat Dec 03 2005 - 22:46:01 EST

Yesterday was the first really cold day in Beijing. And it was very very cold. Today is probably 8 deg. C worse (-9).  The wind is very strong and I haven't felt such biting cold since I lived in Oklahoma (I have been colder there, but the natives tell me that this is just the beginning of winter. Oh Boy!) Yesterday a friend and I went to Pan Jia Yuen (the Dirt market). We go there looking for fossils and art. YEsterday, I wore my leather jacket, which was quite warm enough though most winters in Scotland. But after 30 minutes in the Dirt market, I began to tell my friend we wouldn't be staying long (the car and driver work for me not him).  But, he had been telling me that he didn't want to stay long after we had been there about 20 minutes.

Thus, last night, when I went to a going away party for some friends, I finally broke out my fleece jacket (also bought but not worn in Scotland). This thing is very warm. Basically it is a fleece sewn into the shape of a jacket with the leather outside. I also wore my Russian style fur hat and fleece gloves.  I also worm this to church today as I normally walk the few blocks there.  But today, I was still cold. I forgot to wear my muffler so my face was just becoming frozen.

What does all this have to do with Peking man?  Well, as I walked along, I saw lots of people with coats less worm than mine. That made me think of the first residents of China--Peking man.  What did he wear?  The cold was such that there is no way on earth a human could survive naked through a couple of nights like this. I concluded that Peking Man simple HAD to have clothes.

There are those who may say, well, he had fur, but that is highly unlikely given the size of his brain. The full details can be found at http://home.entouch.net/dmd/sweat.htm, but it is almost a certainty that H. erectus had no more hair than we have.  The brain uses 20% of the energy of the human body. This would not have been much different for the H. erectus with his brain within the modern human range--1060 cc. Modern humans have brains from 760-2000 cc with the average being around 1370 cc.  A slight rise in cranial temperature cooks the brain turning it from a fine calculator into mush incapable of thinking sublime thoughts. Our sweating system is one of the most finely tuned systems in nature. We can deliver 2 liters of water in 2 hours carrying off 600 calories of heat. Hair traps this moisture making it hard to evaporate. Thus, in order to assure that our brains don't cook in the tropical heat, we need to lose the hair.  And since erectus had a similar sized brain, he would have had the same physiological requirement.

Now, back to the cold weather today. Yesterday I walked a short distance from my apartment to the hotel to go to the gym to work out.  I wore my workout shorts and my leather jacket.  the 100 yards was miserable and that was yesterday. Today, I put on sweat pants for the trip.  Now I know that one can aclimatize somewhat, but the laws of physics eventually will win.  In a 20-25 mph wind  from the cold mountains out west, a temperature of -9C ~16F, one can see that going naked is not really optional.

All of this then brings one to the conclusion that H. erectus simply had to have had clothing or he would have frozen his tush. And, if he had clothing, at least the  ID folk, who constantly claim that mankind is no older than 60,000 years (Hugh Ross who thinks they are merely bipedal apes) must think about the fact that clothing does seem to be a mark of humanity. Bipedal apes don't make clothing--people do. And this would lead to the inclusion of H. erectus into the human family.  

Such are the thoughts of a person freezing to death while they walk to Church.


Received on Sat Dec 3 22:51:06 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Dec 03 2005 - 22:51:06 EST