Dmanisi in the news

| 31 Comments

The English media is full of articles about the Dmanisi fossils, based on a talk by David Lordkipanidze at the British Science Festival. The articles mention the discovery of five or six specimens, with some giving the impression that these are new discoveries. The New Scientist commented that “it’s not clear whether Lordkipanidze was presenting new data, or simply wrapping up the story so far for a more lay audience at the festival.” However some of the other newspapers such as the Guardian clarified that most of these fossils were discovered early this decade, along with another recent discovery that is not yet published. According to The Times, this recent find is “a fifth well-preserved skull, the most complete yet”, which will make it a spectacular fossil. This is probably the specimen shown a photo in many of the articles, still half-embedded in rock.

As is usual, a number of newspapers somewhat overstated the significance of the find, especially the Daily Mail with its headline “Ancient skeletons discovered in Georgia threaten to overturn the theory of human evolution”. This is highly misleading. The Dmanisi fossils are a tremendous discovery, and may well change our ideas about some details of where, when, and how we evolved, but they’re certainly not going to overturn the idea of human evolution. They are actually superb evidence for human evolution.

The Dmanisi hominids are from the country of Georgia (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/d2700.html). A number of skulls have been found so far, ranging from about 850 cc (the lower end of the H. erectus range) down to 600 cc (well into the H. habilis range). In 2007, details of some skeletal material was published.

The brain sizes of these skulls straddle the gap that creationists like to claim exists between humans and australopithecines. The skulls are also intermediate anatomically, looking like primitive H. erectus skulls with some habilis features. The same is true of the skeletal material: the creatures were indisputably bipedal, but have a number of primitive features.

Naturally, creationists don’t have a clue what these fossils are. Some of them think they’re humans, some think they’re apes, and, as I blogged last year, they’re both wrong:

Dmanisi fossils - more transitional than ever
Dmanisi and Answers in Genesis

Note: In the initial version of this post, I thought the articles were referring to new fossil discoveries, which turned out to be (mostly) not the case, so the post has been corrected accordingly.

31 Comments

Ah, HA! A whole new set of gaps for Derwoodists to explain!!!1111!!one!!

Just waiting for some bonehead comment about the southern state. It’ll happen.

fnxtr said:

Just waiting for some bonehead comment about the southern state. It’ll happen.

I didn’t know Atlanta existed that long ago! The brain case volume sure explains the natives’ driving habits, though!

(I keeeed, I keeeed.)

The second media report is by far the worse spelling of “Guardian” I’ve seen. I don’t think they could get “Telegraph” from their name, even in the halcyon pre-word processor days.

Bob O’H = jellus gaurdien of spelingses

I followed the trackback that was supposed to be for the Telegraph, because they recently published a truly disgusting piece on the five best arguments for creationism (see Pharyngula about it.) The trackback actually took me to the Guardian– and a truly disgusting headline about how the new fossil find “challenges theories…” For pity’s sake, they couldn’t say, “fills gaps…” or “completes picture…”? They just HAD to set up a quote-mine?

For a moment, I thought that AiG or the Reconstructionists must be spreading some serious dough around the British press. But then, I remembered the immortal words of Humbert Wolfe:

You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God! the British journalist.

But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

(sigh) the links to the newspaper articles have been fixed.

It’s not clear to me from the reports whether all of this material is new. Indeed it wasn’t clear either to the New Scientist reporter who was there:

But it’s not clear whether Lordkipanidze was presenting new data, or simply wrapping up the story so far for a more lay audience at the festival.

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/s[…]-in-eur.html

In the Mail article, they show a photo of three skulls lined up. The middle one looks new I think, but the one on the right looks like D2282, the one on the left could be D2280. The one that Lordkipanidze is holding maybe looks like D2700 (though it’s hard to tell). So I’d like to hear a bit more before getting too excited.

So they were bipeds? Luckily. Must have been difficult hopping around before the 2d leg evolved. How long did that take, in earth-years? (Wikipedia rightly avoids all reference in “Human Leg” to evolution/avoidolution.But then it’s obviously part of the Conspiracy.)

it’s obviously part of the Conspiracy

You must be referring to the conspiracy to rob all your posts of coherence and content. Obviously, the conspiracy is working.

Bob O’H said:

The second media report is by far the worse spelling of “Guardian” I’ve seen. I don’t think they could get “Telegraph” from their name, even in the halcyon pre-word processor days.

Actually, ever since an infamous strike by the spell-checkers some decades ago misspelling the name of the paper has been regarded as satirical. However, the normal misspelling is “Grauniad” - “Telegraph” is a bit extreme, but could be suggestive, since the two papers are to some extent “mirror images” across the political spectrum.

Did anybody else read this as “More Dembski Skeletal Material”. Is novparl a Poe? I can’t believe that he would expect legs to evolve separately.

Am I the only one who read the title as “More Dembski skeletal material?” I couldn’t wait to see what he was up to now.

Richard said:

Am I the only one who read the title as “More Dembski skeletal material?” I couldn’t wait to see what he was up to now.

Spooky …

Michael wrote:

“Is novparl a Poe?”

Well around here we refer to him as Edgar Allen if that gives you a hint. Like water, if you just ignore him, he will eventually go away.

Get a sense of humor–novparl’s comment is clealy a sardonic poke at a creationist objection to evilution.

tfk said:

Get a sense of humor–novparl’s comment is clealy a sardonic poke at a creationist objection to evilution.

You’d think so, but, a genuine humorist knows when his material is or isn’t funny, whereas novparl is a troll, Poe or otherwise. The only people who finds his material funny are novparl, and some of the other trolls.

You would realize that he is a troll especially after you read his comments where he confesses to fishing for antagonism to feed his martyr complex, where he insults people for attempting to penetrate his invincibly stupid idiot schtick, or where he drops off-topic, insulting non sequitors that leaves one with the impression that he’s actually an ultra-right wing homophobic bigot.

I don’t come here often enough to recognize poster’s names, but when I read Novparl’s post, I thought it was a satire of creationism, playing on and exaggerating Comfort’s idea that after a male of a new species evolved, he would have to wait for a new male female of the same species to evolve before he could breed.

But some people think he is serious? Could anyone really believe that a quadrupedal animal would give birth to an animal with three limbs, one of which was a leg adapted for bipedalism, and then have to wait to fro the second leg to ‘evolve’ (whatever that would mean in that context)? Surely not?

Stanton–your post speaks volumes. No one who had completed even a year of Latin could write ‘sequitor’ for sequitur.

Helnea said:

Stanton–your post speaks volumes. No one who had completed even a year of Latin could write ‘sequitor’ for sequitur.

If the entirety of your posts is to simply lambaste us for incapable of finding someone who’s pretending to be an idiotic bigot, nevermind that you’ve apparently never had to deal with him or his invincible stupidity personally, funny, as well as to make fun of me simply because I mispelled “sequitur,” well, rather than simply lambasting you in return, or asking that you explain, in great detail, to us why we should enjoy someone who acts like an idiotic bigot and refuses to get out of character, ever, it would be more prudent to file a lawsuit against your parents and educators to sue them for the abominable job they did in attempting to raise you as an understanding human being with a rudimentary grasp of etiquette.

Stanton said:

If the entirety of your posts is to simply lambaste us for being incapable of finding someone who’s pretending to be an idiotic bigot…

Ignore Nov. He’s sort of like the guy of whom Groucho Marx said that not listening to him was a liberal education.

He’s floridly irrational but harmless, and he does serve a purpose. People read his posts just to savour the museum-quality crackpottery, and the good thing is he makes biblical-fundamentalist creationists cringe, too. After all, having someone like Nov on your side would give anyone cause for doubt.

Wow, Helnea really nailed you Stanton. Apparently your claim of fluency in Latin, which you never made and which would be irrelevant anyway, has been shown to be a big non-lie. For shame.

Helnea, I’m quite sure you’ve never misspelled a word; congratulations on being perfect. Could you take a moment to expound on what “volumes” are spoken by Stanton’s error, apart from the fact that you now “know” he didn’t complete a year of Latin? So far you’re only up to 15 words on the subject, perhaps those “volumes” could be fleshed out a little.

I, too, was confused by the media claim that these were new fossils about to “overturn theories of human evolution.” I think the initial find was first announced in 2000 - nearly a decade ago - and summed up in Lordkipanidze et al. 2007. Postcranial evidence from early Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia. Nature Nature 449, 305-310 and one or two other papers of around the same vintage.

As for novparl, that comment seemed out of character to me and very much like a Poe finally coming out of the closet.

I apologiize for casting aspersions on anyone’s sense of humor. I just thought that the one leg comment was particularly droll, both because it’s an exception to Poe’s Law (it IS beyond belief) and because the counterargument is so simple (quad to bi) that it immediately comes to mind for anyone familiar with the more complex arguments against irreducible complexity. If novparl is a troll, he failed at Poe, but he succeeded at satire (even a broken clock is right twice a day).

tfk said:

I apologiize for casting aspersions on anyone’s sense of humor. I just thought that the one leg comment was particularly droll, both because it’s an exception to Poe’s Law (it IS beyond belief) and because the counterargument is so simple (quad to bi) that it immediately comes to mind for anyone familiar with the more complex arguments against irreducible complexity. If novparl is a troll, he failed at Poe, but he succeeded at satire (even a broken clock is right twice a day).

You should read his various mental crappings where the only evidence he presents to support his claim that Hitler and the Nazis were directly inspired by Darwin are various misquotes he’s incompetently translated into pidgin German.

You’re getting tangled up in quibbles about legs, when it’s obvious that the problem is feet- when did Man get a sole? Perhaps it was only originally long lasting rather than immortal, but we definitely need more intermediate fossil metatarsals to determine the point at which hunmans became capable of sin.

And Georgia? That must have been a long time bacjk in evolution, after Arkansas, but before Noo York and long before California…

tfk said:

I apologiize for casting aspersions on anyone’s sense of humor. I just thought that the one leg comment was particularly droll, both because it’s an exception to Poe’s Law (it IS beyond belief) and because the counterargument is so simple (quad to bi) that it immediately comes to mind for anyone familiar with the more complex arguments against irreducible complexity. If novparl is a troll, he failed at Poe, but he succeeded at satire (even a broken clock is right twice a day).

It is hard to tell as one of the YEC “serious” arguments against evolution is that Males and Females have to evolve simultaneously.

It is hard to tell as one of the YEC “serious” arguments against evolution is that Males and Females have to evolve simultaneously.

Well, it is simultaneous, but it’s also within the same gene pool, and it’s a bit at a time (i.e., the changes have to be slow enough for each gender to keep up with any changes in the other).

Henry

Henry J said: …the changes have to be slow enough for each gender to keep up with any changes in the other.

Maybe differential evolution would explain the increase in the divorce rate: Members of a couple start evolving at different speeds and grow apart. That could explain a lot of things…

More interesting human history to come out of Georgia:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/s[…]?ref=science

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jim Foley published on September 12, 2009 11:29 PM.

Rationality Now’s tour of Ham’s “museum” was the previous entry in this blog.

The perfect phrase is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter