Re: EVOLUTION: The Aquatic Ape

Michael Lorrey (
Thu, 23 Jan 1997 19:50:52 -0500

Keith Henson wrote:
> On Wed, 22 Jan 1997, John K Clark wrote:
> > I did read Calvin's "The Throwing Madonna" a few years ago, I have not read
> > his "The Cerebral Code", except for a few pages I thumbed through in a
> > bookstore. The trouble I have with his idea is that throwing an object with
> > power and accuracy is the most complex, difficult, motion you can put your
> > arm through,
> It may not be, but it is likely to be the motion most connected to your
> genetic survival. And, as Calvin points out, it takes a hell of a lot of
> neurons to get the release timing down to the point you can hit targets.
> The basic problem is that the timing jitter of nerve cells is way to
> high, so high that when Calvin first started thinking about the problem,
> he could not figure out how we could hit *anything*.
> I will certainly argue that a lot of animals humans hunted were much
> larger than the strike zone! They also hunted in groups, where any one
> of them getting in a good one was enough. And while living to 35 was
> likely plenty to pass on genes, I very much doubt a hunting group got
> that many opportunities to hit something in a day, certainly not as many
> throws as a baseball pitcher will make.

The big difference between baseball and rockball, is that your prehuman
only had to throw ONE strike a day to live til tomorrow (maybe a few
more to be fat and happy), rather than a whole nine innnings a day (its
the repetition while strained that causes the most wear and tear on
pitcher's arms).

> > >it seems that pre humans got along just fine as projectile
> > >hunters using hand axes thrown discus style into groups of
> > >animals at water holes/streams for millions of years.
> >
> > This might be true but could have nothing to do with the development of >
> bipedalism. Lucy was as bipedal as you or me but it would be a million years
> > later before anybody on earth had a hand ax or a tool.

How old was Lucy? I just read today's paper that announced the discovery
of a cache of tools found in Ethiopia near Olduvai that were between
2.5-2.6 million years old. THis is older by a few hundred thousand years
the first known appearance of the genus Homo, which possibly puts late
australopithecus right in the tool making camp.

> So much context has been lost that I am not sure how this ran, but I think my
> point was that bipetalism was a prerequisite for throwing. My point was
> how the big expansion grew out of the earlier adaptionsaddaptions to projectile
> hunting which a chimp sized brain could support.

I like the scavenger idea, where prehumans were, outside of digging
roots, scavengers that had to compete with predators and other
scavengers for meat. Having to be bipedal to have hands free to tear and
carry flesh quickly away from the killsite, as well as to throw rocks in
defense against other animals seems rather logical.

> > >In such an environment, really good projectile throwing made
> > >the difference between a line which left a lot of descendants
> > >and one which left none. Calvin argues (very well I think)
> > >that this is what drove the expansion of the human brain
> >
> >
> > It seems to me that if Evolution was only interested in solving one
> > particular problem, rather than problems in general, it would have developed
> > an elaborate throwing reflex, not intelligence. Then again, Evolution never
> > does things the easy sensible way, so maybe.
> Calvin argues that the expansion of the brain for throwing hauled along
> many, many other things. The same motion sequencer that is used to throw
> rocks he proposes gets used when not throwing for such things as
> generating sentences.

As well as multitasking: having to think about selecting the most
usefull flesh quickly while being aware of and prepared to switch jobs
to throw rocks at encroaching animals. Seems like Lucy had a lot to
think about.....


Michael Lorrey ------------------------------------------------------------ President Northstar Technologies Agent Inventor of the Lorrey Drive

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