Early indications of bipedalism in A. afarensis

| 50 Comments

While we’re waiting to see if one of our paleo people will post at greater length on this, I will call attention to Case Western Reserve University’s Center for Human Origins’ material on the recent publication of a report on a very early specimen of Australopithecus afarensis. It shows evidence of bipedalism as early as 3.6 mya. The specimen is dubbed “Kadanuumuu,” or “big man” in Afar, the language of the region of Ethiopia in which it was found, because it is from a male over 5 feet tall. That contrasts with Lucy, a female only about 3.5 feet tall from 3.2 mya. The skeletal remains overlap Lucy’s considerably with the exception of cranial and dental material which is missing from Kadanuumuu. The work was recently published in PNAS.

Other coverage from the National Science Foundation and from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (one of the founding partners in Case’s Center for Human Origins).

50 Comments

If it is bipedalism then so was the female and so it must have or be intermediate in having evidence of pain at birthing. It won’t. its just a ape.

By the way. Afar is probably the biblical word of Ophir. Solomon got apes and gold from there. i once suggested his getting apes was to study a creature that looked like a man. he was a naturalist. Just a thought. Afar or Ophir is probably the origin of the word africa.

Mr Byers if it will help you 3.6mya (million years ago) translates into moron speak as 3,598,000B.C.

Oooops! Forgot to mention; English is a language which uses quite a bit of grammar. You might want to re-read your whole post, but especially that first paragraph. It doesn’t say much for christian education, at all!

RBH, a question. The hole in the top of a newborn’s skull is an adaptation to allow the baby to pass through the narrower birth canal, (due to an upright gate) without causing brain damage, I think, or have read somewhere. Do the great apes need this evolved device or are their infants born cranially intact? I would think their gate allows for a wider birth canal, and thus making redundant the incredibly bad DESIGN of a hole in an infant’s skull. But I don’t know.

robert van bakel said:

RBH, a question. The hole in the top of a newborn’s skull is an adaptation to allow the baby to pass through the narrower birth canal, (due to an upright gate) without causing brain damage, I think, or have read somewhere. Do the great apes need this evolved device or are their infants born cranially intact? I would think their gate allows for a wider birth canal, and thus making redundant the incredibly bad DESIGN of a hole in an infant’s skull. But I don’t know.

Beats the hell outta me, and I’m finishing a Freshwater post and so don’t have time to hunt up an answer. Sorry.

Just randomly repeating myself from the last time this crazy idea of birth pain was floated, but any farmer that raises livestock will surely point out that animals feel all kinds of discomfort and need help to deliver breech births, which can be fatal.

Attribution of this skeleton to afarensis is dicey – no craniodental remains. And Au. anamensis occurs earlier in the fossil record and has also been diagnosed as a biped. Heck, Orrorin at 6MYA appears to be a biped (jury is still out on Ardipithecus). So what’s all the fuss on this “Big Man”? Maybe it’s just “Big Hype”.

This group (especially Lovejoy) has argued elsewhere, and in the face of mountains of data to the contrary, that afarensis isn’t really all that sexually dimorphic (cf. his food for sex model and supposed pair-bonding!!). So how do they sex the the new skeleton? By its extremely large size in comparison to little Lucy –doh!

christonacrutch – can’t you put in a Byer’s filter? Fatuous crap as usual.

robert van bakel:

There isn’t a “hole” in infant crania, instead there are fontanels or “soft spots.” The cranium hasn’t completely ossified, but has flat bones floating in a field of fibrous membrane. This permits a) the cranium to squeeze through the pelvic brim, and b) the brain to grow.

Non-human animals have these fontanels, they just aren’t so large as in humans, and they fuse together much earlier.

.….…

WRT Robert Byers, I used to think that he was the fourth of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers - but after some kind and generous comments he made on another forum, I’ve come to the conclusion that his difficulties are organic and worthy of sympathy and understanding.

Reality rules, Honor the Truth - in memory of Chemist99a

fusilier James 2:24

Solomon got apes and gold from there. i once suggested his getting apes was to study a creature that looked like a man.

Nope, Solomon was too busy collecting wives and concubines. Read your Bible.

Apes, or at least Chimpanzees, do have fontanelles. In chimps, it closes faster, as chimps’ brains are about 40% adult size at birth and 80% adult size at age one, compared to 25% and 40% respectively for humans.

dpr

Robert Byers said:

…bipedalism …pain… a ape.

…biblical…Ophir. Solomon…apes.…

2.8 (yawn)

but any farmer that raises livestock will surely point out that animals feel all kinds of discomfort and need help to deliver breech births, which can be fatal.

True. We have a problem with our large heads.

Quadrupeds have another problem. Their young must be physically more developed so they can stand and run shortly after birth. Cows and deer etc. don’t have hands to carry their newborns around with so they have to be able to run by themselves from predators.

Just looking at the size of the newborn, the exit passageway, and the effort and stress on the mothers, makes it obvious that they are feeling pain.

Farmers sometimes have to “pull” calves and in a worst case scenario they end up pulling them out in pieces.

robert van bakel said:

Mr Byers if it will help you 3.6mya (million years ago) translates into moron speak as 3,598,000B.C.

… or 3,597,000 B.A. (before ark)

… or 3,595,996 B.P. (before poof)

occamseraser:

They can usually tell the gender by the shape of the hips, among other things. Apparently that particular dimorphism is very old.

I’m wondering about a firm indentification without a skull, too, though.

MSNBC’s Cosmic Log has a good overview of the find. In particular, it associates the find with the similarly aged Laetoli footprints (PBS video available at the link).

I made a mis-statement in the OP. I wrote “It shows evidence of bipedalism as early as 3.6 mya.” Of course there’s evidence of bipedalism from that period already in the books: the Laetoli footprints linked in my last comment. What the Kadanuumuu fossil adds is anatomical evidence to accompany the footprints.

fnxtr said:

occamseraser:

They can usually tell the gender by the shape of the hips, among other things. Apparently that particular dimorphism is very old.

I’m wondering about a firm indentification without a skull, too, though.

In this case they determined sex by examining the depth of the sciatic notch. On the taxonomic affinities the authors of the paper argue that the skeletal material displays a large number of similarities to other, known, Australopithecus afarensis post cranial material to warrant such a placement. I’m a little skeptical myself. The most interesting bit is the pelvis which displays some interesting similarities to both the Au. sediba pelvis and the Gona pelvis.

I now convinced that Byers honestly does not believe anything he says. The fixation on pain in childbirth is entirely because he successfully eked a few dozen replies out of it once before. The rest of his post up there is just gibberish. It’s a cry for attention, and I’m proud to see some of you aren’t biting.

That said, if he tempts me with an outrageous enough lump of hooey, can I - knowing he doesn’t buy it either - manage the strength to ignore it? Experience tells me no. I am total troll bait.

*sigh*

CS Shelton said:

I now convinced that Byers honestly does not believe anything he says. The fixation on pain in childbirth is entirely because he successfully eked a few dozen replies out of it once before. The rest of his post up there is just gibberish. It’s a cry for attention, and I’m proud to see some of you aren’t biting.

That said, if he tempts me with an outrageous enough lump of hooey, can I - knowing he doesn’t buy it either - manage the strength to ignore it? Experience tells me no. I am total troll bait.

*sigh*

As one of Mr. Byers suckers myself, the thing I try to remember is that online debates exist for lurkers, and not the posters themselves. If a Poe troll makes arguments like those of real creationists, I don’t see anything wrong with engaging them. After all, a neophyte to this discussion might learn something.

What I think it is pointless to respond to are off-topic blathercrap and personal attacks. Indeed, derailed threads and flame wars centered around them are what trolls feast on. Measured responses to possibly honest inquiries by contrast are thin gruel.

CS Shelton said:

I now convinced that Byers honestly does not believe anything he says. The fixation on pain in childbirth is entirely because he successfully eked a few dozen replies out of it once before. The rest of his post up there is just gibberish. It’s a cry for attention, and I’m proud to see some of you aren’t biting.

That said, if he tempts me with an outrageous enough lump of hooey, can I - knowing he doesn’t buy it either - manage the strength to ignore it? Experience tells me no. I am total troll bait.

*sigh*

Byers and I have discussed this issue. Before that we discussed marsupials. You should check that thread out, but turn your irony meters way down if you do.

stevaroni said:

robert van bakel said:

Mr Byers if it will help you 3.6mya (million years ago) translates into moron speak as 3,598,000B.C.

… or 3,597,000 B.A. (before ark)

… or 3,595,996 B.P. (before poof)

But 13,696,400,000 A.P (after poof) according to many OECs and IDers. Some of whom think there was no ark.

Byers is free to debate them here.

Stallard- Good point. I haven’t thought much about the volume of people lurking until recently, comparing in my head the number of commenters on Pharyngula vs. the number of hits that blog gets. It’s kind of an outrageous ratio.

aFCD- Holy blockquotes, batman! That link looks like feedback from pointing a camcorder at a TV displaying its own feed. As to the discussion, the quote from Ankel-Simons Primate Anatomy is amusingly specific in shooting down notions of human uniqueness on that issue. I also like the way Homo sapiens is just another monkey in a list there. Humility is truly a virtue of science. Good job.

CS Shelton said:

Stallard- Good point. I haven’t thought much about the volume of people lurking until recently, comparing in my head the number of commenters on Pharyngula vs. the number of hits that blog gets. It’s kind of an outrageous ratio.

aFCD- Holy blockquotes, batman! That link looks like feedback from pointing a camcorder at a TV displaying its own feed. As to the discussion, the quote from Ankel-Simons Primate Anatomy is amusingly specific in shooting down notions of human uniqueness on that issue. I also like the way Homo sapiens is just another monkey in a list there. Humility is truly a virtue of science. Good job.

Byers flounced out of the discussion shortly thereafter.

Fusilier, thank you. Fuck Bobby Byers. However, if all, or most animals (mammals?) share this ‘soft spot’ what evolutionary function does it perform? Is it purely that humans are born more underdeveloped than other mammals, thus necessitating a mother/child bond stronger than other placentals? And if it is purely for ease of access to the world it must be a placental thing! No? Your answer was good, can you further educate, my click finger is tired, I would rather leach.

raven said:

Farmers sometimes have to “pull” calves and in a worst case scenario they end up pulling them out in pieces.

Actually did this once many years ago (not in pieces). First time mother could not pass the calf. A calf comes out front legs first with the head sort of tucked between them. The hooves of the calf were sticking out for about 12 hours and no progress was being made. We locked the cow in a stancheon and tied a block and tackle to the calfs front legs. The other end was anchored to the barn. Each time the cow would push, we’d sheet in the rope a bit. Once the head cleared, the calf shot out like it was being launched. Mother and child were fine.

Only an IDiot would say this poor cow was not in pain.

Andrew Stallard Wrote:

As one of Mr. Byers suckers myself, the thing I try to remember is that online debates exist for lurkers, and not the posters themselves. If a Poe troll makes arguments like those of real creationists, I don’t see anything wrong with engaging them. After all, a neophyte to this discussion might learn something.

Exactly. I always have the lurkers in mind first and last. Surely they include many fence-sitters who at least have a curiosity and desire to learn that committed evolution-deniers lack. So I always ask the creationists and trolls what they think the evidence supports in terms of the age of life and common descent, and if they ever challenged evolution-deniers with very different opinions on those matters. Either they ignore the questions (& troll for those who prefer to take their bait), or they admit that they make excuses for any “theory” that contradicts theirs, as long as it isn’t “Darwinism.”

Andrew Stallard said:

As one of Mr. Byers suckers myself, the thing I try to remember is that online debates exist for lurkers, and not the posters themselves. If a Poe troll makes arguments like those of real creationists, I don’t see anything wrong with engaging them. After all, a neophyte to this discussion might learn something.

What I think it is pointless to respond to are off-topic blathercrap and personal attacks. Indeed, derailed threads and flame wars centered around them are what trolls feast on. Measured responses to possibly honest inquiries by contrast are thin gruel.

I post this with my “lurker” hat on for whom you debate for. ;o) I find the postings both educational (fontanellas in both humans and chimps - wow!) and entertaining in a somewhat sadistic manner with the way you refute creationist arguments. I know Mr Byers might not be the sharpest tool in the creationist toolbox but he is so funny sometimes and he probably doesn’t even know it - maybe you should think of him like PT’s pet troll. ;o) However in this series of posts he has let himself down by repeating the birth-pain thing and with appalling lack of grammar.

Keep up the good work all you regular bloggers and posters. As for me… back to the lurking.

I don’t remember the source but I think I once heard or read something about human birth being likened with an abortion, a premature birth. A now or never scenario.

Au. anamensis, 3.9-4.1 mya: biped (tibia).

Orrorin, 6mya: biped (femora).

Sahelanthropus, 7mya: biped?? (geometry of the cranial base and occiput).

And Au. afarensis is already accepted as a biped by virtually everyone, so this new find just confirms the well-known and obvious. The “Big Man” scapula provides genuinely new info, and the authors conclude it has “unique [but unspecified] functional affinities”. Like what functions?

The notion that Lucy is “different” from “Big Hype” because she is small is poorly informed nonsense. They were similar enough based on their postcranial skeletons to be put into the same species afterall! Sexual dimorphism in pelvic shape shouldn’t surprise anyone either. However, there is no sexual dimorphism in limb proportions within species of apes or within human groups; let’s see how they wiggle out of that.…

MememicBottleneck said;

MememicBottleneck said: .…The hooves of the calf were sticking out for about 12 hours and no progress was being made. …Only an IDiot would say this poor cow was not in pain.

Yikes. I, on the other hand, once walked into a hospital and had to explain to the admitting nurse that, no, I really couldn’t wait standing in line, because even if it didn’t seem like it, I was actually in labor. 45 minutes later, I had a full-term, full-size, healthy baby girl. I laugh every time Byers brings up our supposedly horrible childbirths. Either he’s wrong, or I’m not human.

It may well be that human births are, on average, somewhat more difficult than other animals, given our large heads and bipedalism. But there is probably more variation within species that between them. So we humans are right in there along with the rest of the mammals, one more imperfect evolutionary compromise.

And an imperfect or wildly inconsistent reading of Genesis. (Actually making up New Genesis Stuff–a YEC cottage industry.)

If the Fall brought on death and other inconveniences for other animals–like lions and tyrannosaurs no longer subsisting on grass–why wouldn’t birth pain be one of those difficulties? God cursed all human females with birth difficulty (supposedly) for what ONE did ONCE, but there’s no mention of other species’ females being exempt from that curse. And was there birth at all (of any species) in the Garden? If there was no death, then the Garden–even if it was the whole Earth–would have met ecological Armageddon within a few decades. I once did a rough but conservative calculation that the mass of rabbits would outweigh the Earth within 53 years if there were no constraints on their population size other than the death of each parent generation after a lifespan of 3 years.

How long would it take for the Garden to be ass-deep in rabbits IF they gave birth (painlessly!) and none ever died?

Huh Byers? Quick, make something up. Maybe the AIG site has the answer made up BS rationalization.

Just Bob said:

And an imperfect or wildly inconsistent reading of Genesis. (Actually making up New Genesis Stuff–a YEC cottage industry.)

If the Fall brought on death and other inconveniences for other animals–like lions and tyrannosaurs no longer subsisting on grass–why wouldn’t birth pain be one of those difficulties? God cursed all human females with birth difficulty (supposedly) for what ONE did ONCE, but there’s no mention of other species’ females being exempt from that curse. And was there birth at all (of any species) in the Garden? If there was no death, then the Garden–even if it was the whole Earth–would have met ecological Armageddon within a few decades. I once did a rough but conservative calculation that the mass of rabbits would outweigh the Earth within 53 years if there were no constraints on their population size other than the death of each parent generation after a lifespan of 3 years.

How long would it take for the Garden to be ass-deep in rabbits IF they gave birth (painlessly!) and none ever died?

Huh Byers? Quick, make something up. Maybe the AIG site has the answer made up BS rationalization.

Too easy.

It’s a Miracle.

The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways.

Bunny Condoms (as likely as the first two).

How long would it take for the Garden to be ass-deep in rabbits IF they gave birth (painlessly!) and none ever died?

Not sure what the latest creo fairy tale is.

They used to say that before the fall, everyone was pure, innocent, and immortal.

So no one had sex or gave birth.

Which means that the entire human race would consist forever of two morons wandering around naked and wondering what their sex organs are for. Assuming they even had those.

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Adam and Eve for us even being here much less posting on the Internet. One tree down, one to go. The Tree of Life confers immortality. Being humans, if it exists, we will find it.

They had sex organs, or bare minimum Adam had his, because as we all know, God was a penis-haver, despite having existed before penises had a reason to exist.

You know, whatever.

MememicBottleneck said:

Just Bob said:

And an imperfect or wildly inconsistent reading of Genesis. (Actually making up New Genesis Stuff–a YEC cottage industry.)

If the Fall brought on death and other inconveniences for other animals–like lions and tyrannosaurs no longer subsisting on grass–why wouldn’t birth pain be one of those difficulties? God cursed all human females with birth difficulty (supposedly) for what ONE did ONCE, but there’s no mention of other species’ females being exempt from that curse. And was there birth at all (of any species) in the Garden? If there was no death, then the Garden–even if it was the whole Earth–would have met ecological Armageddon within a few decades. I once did a rough but conservative calculation that the mass of rabbits would outweigh the Earth within 53 years if there were no constraints on their population size other than the death of each parent generation after a lifespan of 3 years.

How long would it take for the Garden to be ass-deep in rabbits IF they gave birth (painlessly!) and none ever died?

Huh Byers? Quick, make something up. Maybe the AIG site has the answer made up BS rationalization.

Too easy.

It’s a Miracle.

The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways.

Bunny Condoms (as likely as the first two).

Are you insinuating that those saintly bunnies in the Garden of Eden engaged i [begin whisper] s-e-x[/end whisper] for reasons other than reproduction? How abominable, I hope God retroactively smites them soundly.

But remember, God lied about the results of eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (the snake told the truth). So who knows what would happen if we ate from the Tree of Life?

afarensis, FCD said:

Are you insinuating that those saintly bunnies in the Garden of Eden engaged in …

Now come on. You’ve never heard anyone say “prays like a bunny”, have you?

Now that we have been ‘de-byred’, what happened to the joint between the hip-bone and thigh bone over several million years to allow bi-pedal locomotion?

“Which came first? The bi-pedal locomotion, or the taste for meat?”

Robert Byers said:

If it is bipedalism then so was the female and so it must have or be intermediate in having evidence of pain at birthing. It won’t. its just a ape.

Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

robert van bakel said:

Now that we have been ‘de-byred’, what happened to the joint between the hip-bone and thigh bone over several million years to allow bi-pedal locomotion?

“Which came first? The bi-pedal locomotion, or the taste for meat?”

Given that the (generally) quadrupedal Chimpanzee also has a taste for meat, I’ll guess the omnivorous diet showed up before bipedalism, though it’s always possible that both human ancestral species and chimpanzee ancestral species both independently moved to an omnivorous diet after they went their separate ways.

Karen S. said:

Solomon got apes and gold from there. i once suggested his getting apes was to study a creature that looked like a man.

Nope, Solomon was too busy collecting wives and concubines. Read your Bible.

Your right about those collections. Women did ruin as the bible says.

raven said:

but any farmer that raises livestock will surely point out that animals feel all kinds of discomfort and need help to deliver breech births, which can be fatal.

True. We have a problem with our large heads.

Quadrupeds have another problem. Their young must be physically more developed so they can stand and run shortly after birth. Cows and deer etc. don’t have hands to carry their newborns around with so they have to be able to run by themselves from predators.

Just looking at the size of the newborn, the exit passageway, and the effort and stress on the mothers, makes it obvious that they are feeling pain.

Farmers sometimes have to “pull” calves and in a worst case scenario they end up pulling them out in pieces.

Well i say looking is not studying. i say that any watching of nature shows showing wild horses, deer, this or that clearly demonstrates that there is no pain. Discomfort is not pain. If there are problems thats different. Let the physical structure of animal female bodies, where operating properly, is to deliver offspring without anything close to what women suffer. i don’t understand why evolutionists fight this. any writing on the subject teaches that the unique pain if from unique details. Walking upright, rare, and the head size of the offspring relative to openings, also rare, .

Yes of cparse its not well known and creationists would say its from the curse as recorded in genesis. yet I often meet with great denial of very plain facts. only women suffer the pain and duration of same in birthing. animals have little or no problem.

I saw a good article once in National geographic. it was a side issue to other subjects. Perhaps google can help find it. I’m sure it was from the 1990’s on.

Please, Byers. As if you would know what constitutes a study.

Well, my sister did use the phrase “in a brown study” once. I don’t think she meant a wood-paneled room.

Well i say looking is not studying. i say that any watching of nature shows showing wild horses, deer, this or that clearly demonstrates that there is pain. (member i just says that watchin nature aint good enouhs, but watching nature shows is i guesses). Discomfort is just a kind of pain. If there are problems thats no different. Let the physical structure of animal female bodies, where operating properly, is to deliver offspring is very close to what women suffer. i don’t understand why creationists fight this. any writing on the subject teaches that the pain is not from unique details. Walking upright, rare, and the head size of the offspring relative to openings, has nothin to do with it says i (who has watched many shows but never actually done any real sciences).

Yes of cparse its not well known and creationists would say its from the curse as recorded in genesis. yet I often have denial of very plain facts. only women and animals suffer the pain and duration of same in birthing. plants have little or no problem.

I saw a good article once in National geographic. it was a side issue to other subjects. Perhaps google can help find it. I’m sure it was from the 1990’s on. im sure it was a scientific study that was trying to show that apes is not humans. I’m sure i didn’t just make that crap up, i just knows i dont.

Robert Byers said:

Karen S. said:

Solomon got apes and gold from there. i once suggested his getting apes was to study a creature that looked like a man.

Nope, Solomon was too busy collecting wives and concubines. Read your Bible.

Your right about those collections. Women did ruin as the bible says.

In addition, it is important to understand that for some men “ape” and “concubine” are not mutually exclusive categories. Indeed, I had known a man, a member in good standing of a fundamentalist church, for whom concubine was a sub-category of both sheep and horse.

No, I didn’t actually just write that. Did I?

raven said:

How long would it take for the Garden to be ass-deep in rabbits IF they gave birth (painlessly!) and none ever died?

Not sure what the latest creo fairy tale is.

They used to say that before the fall, everyone was pure, innocent, and immortal.

So no one had sex or gave birth.

Which means that the entire human race would consist forever of two morons wandering around naked and wondering what their sex organs are for. Assuming they even had those.

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Adam and Eve for us even being here much less posting on the Internet. One tree down, one to go. The Tree of Life confers immortality. Being humans, if it exists, we will find it.

That’s one thing I never got while growing up in a “creationist” household. If there was no pain, sex, or childbirth and everyone was immortal before the fall–Why was there a “tree of life” to grant immortality? Didn’t they already have that? That’s one of the reasons I could never take the creation story as literal truth.

Robert Byers said: Well i say looking is not studying. i say that any watching of nature shows showing wild horses, deer, this or that clearly demonstrates that there is no pain.

Can you keep a straight face while typing “looking is not studying”? You’ve shown no signs whatever of having studied anything; all you do is looking!

But here is a subject you might want to study: How can animals survive if they don’t feel pain?

Or is your theory that they are different, they feel pain allright, but it is suppressed during the birth process? Maybe you ought do a study instead of, well, not even looking?

“Straight face”? Somehow I think of Marty Feldman.

I don’t know how you guys can try to answer RB’s ramblings. I get a few words into one and my brain pops up a big flag: INCOHERENT GIBBERISH. If it was much worse it would read like TIMECUBE.

“Maybe if I read it upside-down it would make more sense.”

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on June 22, 2010 11:58 PM.

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