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Science

Human Origins Theory Tested By Recent Findings 272

Posted by samzenpus
from the ebony-and-ivory dept.
annamadrigal writes "The BBC news is reporting on findings presented in Nature which suggest that Homo Erectus and H. Habilis were in fact sister species which co-existed. This challenges the view that the upright humans evolved from the tool users."
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Human Origins Theory Tested By Recent Findings

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  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:07PM (#20165817)
    It talks about "their own distinct ecological niches". Given that we are omnivores, how different could their "ecological niche" have been and still support something that was almost human?

    Humans and other primates have shared the same areas ever since there were humans. Yet we have only recently started wiping out other primates. And it isn't because we are competing with them for the food sources. We wipe out their environment, food sources and all.

    So there thing about "Eventually, one would have out-competed the other." doesn't sound right. "Eventually", maybe. But to say that any conclusions can be derived simply because it had not happened in X years ... that's dumb.
  • Re:Homo Mormonus (Score:4, Interesting)

    by maelfius (592856) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:09PM (#20165833) Homepage
    Monogamous nature of human mating interaction is almost exclusively due to societal changes -- mostly control reasons (from what I can see). However, humans do tend to have a stronger attachment to those they mate with than some other species out there do. Perhaps more akin to the mate-for-life (or close to it) mentality -- whether or not this is supported by actions and/or society (divorce rate is high etc), but there is the definite attachment in many cases. I should stop posting, and where are my damn mod points to mod you funny for the title.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:51PM (#20166059)
    Other great apes were evolved for primarily eating fruit (orangutang), veggies (gorillas), or a more mixed diet (chimps). I'd say that human ancestors didn't take to the flatlands all that great but were actually well adapted to rivers and for the style of fishing known as noodling. (Paddle-like foot shape, thinned out body hair, improved hand dexterity, downturned nose, these seem better adapted for mucking in water than walking around on some grassland.) Afterall, in comparison to the great apes we're related to, humans are the only ones that can swim worth a damn. Crocodiles as a competing apex preditor would be a lot more predictable for pre-tool hominid primates than any lion, jaguar, or hyena. (Easy enough to get out of the water when crocs are around, but good luck outrunning one of those large cats.) Also there's likely more protein to be had from fish than any small grassland type creature that could be caught until toolmaking became more mainstream.

    Now if only an actual anthropologist would pick up on that idea...
  • by Slur (61510) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:35AM (#20166207) Homepage Journal
    I know you're joking, but let me reply seriously anyway.

    In my theory of evolution, it's not so much that "the fittest survive," but that "those that fit survive." There's a feedback loop that occurs in the environment. Those that benefit themselves, others, and the environment as a whole tend to survive and evolve more readily than those that form an adversarial relationship to others and the environment.

    Monkeys still exist because there have been - and remain - plenty of habitats that are beneficial to them, and they're very adaptable to new environments. Long after Humans have engineered all remaining environments into complete unsuitability, monkeys will likely still remain, because they manage to survive on just the detritus of our habitats. And being smaller, their energy needs are far less.

    In the present case of "tool users" versus "upright walkers" other posts have been spot-on. They had little effect on one another and each adapted well to their given environment. And as the lined article points out just fine, tool use and upright walking were not mutually exclusive developments. It's hardly a big stretch for any being of a certain level of sentience to see the parallel between the hands at the ends of their arms and the tools in their hands. From the point of view of any being of reasonable sentience, they are both automatically objectified into things-to-be-used.

    It has long been understood that evolution tends towards less specialization and more generalization as environments rapidly change and become more diverse and challenging, and as species range further. The necessity of mental abstraction and self-alienation will become more evident as we delve into our more recent evolution. (And from this will come insights into the need for our so-called "religious practices" that semi-moderate this alienation. But that's a topic for another day!)
  • Re:I wonder... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by deleveld (607488) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:07AM (#20167409)
    I hardly think its a mystery why chimps havent evolved and we have. Chimps have remained unchanged while humans have evolved because we dont (and probably didnt) occupy the same niche. Chimps dont have the right kind of evolutionary pressure. Chimps seem to reproduce just fine from generation-on-generation without any important advantage of brain size. Humans with tiny brains dont reproduce well, hence the evolutionary pressure for (sufficient for good human reproduction) larger brain sizes.

    Chimps seem to be successful in thier own niche and deviations from the existing plan dont help chimps reproduce. My guess is that early humans we unable to carve out thier own niche and we constantly pushed from thier niches by more specialized animals. We were then forced to specialize in being the animal to rapidly make use of whatever niches were available. In this context, intelligence is a definite advantage, hence the evolutionary pressure for larger brain size, cooperation, clothes, agriculture, etc, i.e. the things that make us different than chimps.

  • Cain and Abel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CarpetShark (865376) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @07:13AM (#20168005)
    This kind of thing always makes me wonder about the origin of tales that probably come to us from pre-history -- stuff like the Cain and Abel story. I can't help thinking that, at one time, these stories might have told of some much more important historical event than one brother killing another, and that, slowly, over time, they've been watered down into something that everyone understood in their current context -- one guy killing another.
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @10:35AM (#20170423) Homepage
    Ya lost me there AC.

    Einstein predicted a certain bending of light in terms of the general "predicted theory of relativity and it was not proven to be absolutely spot on until the 1960's, I believe. So the science "predicted fact" is recognized as valid ("true") after the prediction is fulfilled.

    But there are extant copies of things like Isaiah (from the Dead Sea Scrolls) that include nearly word for word what the Masoretic text used in the KJV holds, and some of the prophecies in Isaiah are fulfilled long after the DSS were placed in the caves. Or much of the book of Daniel -- which not only correctly foretells the decline of the Persion empire(s) but the rise later of the Greek, still later the Roman, and then a bunch of little kingdoms, some strong, some weak. (the feet of iron and clay), for example. Predates the rise of the little kingdoms...

    So if the predictions in the OT are evaluated after the fact, --and the source document predates the fulfillment of the "prophecy", it's the same method as science is using and therefore equally valid as "truth".
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Friday August 10, 2007 @10:49AM (#20183671) Homepage
    Goofy thinking on both posts.

    The latest accepted date for the book of Daniel is still pre-Christian era, and still pre-date Julius Caesar's dictatorship/declaration of "emporer" etc around 44 BC) to around 106 AD, and the break of of big empires into little kingdoms could not have been predicted, as the history of the region from around the time of Nebuchadnezzar (sp?) through the Roman Empire was a history of empire following empire following empire. There would have been no reason for anyone to assume that this would not continue, and instead devolve into strong and weak nations interspersed with each other, as happened in Europe and the Mediterranean and Middle east areas post- pax-Romana.

    Therefore Daniel's interpretation of the dream and the idol was and is both specific, correct, and prophetic. And hard to ignore-- believe me I tried.

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