Tag: bipedal

References to hominid bipedalism.

Top 10 Posts of 2018

Credit Marjaree Mason Center – CC-BY-SA

Here is the list of the ten posts on Green Comet that got the most visits in 2018.


1. Spanking for Love

Once again Green Comet seems to be a gateway for people who want to learn about spanking their women. Humans are funny little things, aren’t they?


2. Bipedal – The Savanna Theory

Judging from the pattern of hits, I’m guessing that a lot of children find this post after getting a school assignment.


3. Home Page
This makes sense, since it’s the landing page for the site.


4. Ants in the Devil’s Garden

It’s a fascinating story, so I’m not surprised at the interest in it. It’s interesting to speculate about the search parameters that led here. There are some good comments, too.


5. Most Unpleasant Sounds

Once again, how do people end up here? What is the interest in unpleasant sounds?


6. Downloads

This is gratifying. Since the purpose of the Green Comet website is to provide a home on the internet for the Green Comet trilogy, I am pleased that so many people go to the downloads page. In fact, you should do that as soon as you finish reading this post. Download everything. It’s free.


7. Bipedal – The Aquatic Ape Theory

This one is probably linked to #2. They are closely related ideas.

Credit Craig Sunter – CC-BY


8. Cirrus Homogenitus

Everyone loves clouds, and this one is probably particularly interesting because it’s one of the rare new ones designated by the World Meteorological Organization in their International Cloud Atlas.

Photo credit – Ross Cooper


9. Altocumulus Lenticularis

More clouds, and these ones are popular for their striking appearance and their counter-intuitive behavior.


10. Altocumulus Castellanus

More clouds, and again very distinctive in their appearance.

So, that was 2018. I think I’m safe in predicting that the list for 2019 will be similar.

rjb

Top Ten Posts of 2017

Credit Marjaree Mason Center – CC-BY-SA

Here are the ten most viewed posts of 2017, not including permanent site components such as the home page, Downloads, Welcome, etc. Once again it seems I’ve become the Internet gateway for people wondering about spanking their wives.


1. Spanking for Love

What is it with spanking? This post has just over twice as many views as the second one.


2. Bipedal – The Savanna Theory

The interest in this continues. It spikes at the same times each year. School assignments?


3. Ants in the Devil’s Garden

After a big drop-off from #2, people seem to love these orchardist ants.


4. Bipedal – The Aquatic Ape Theory

The curve flattens from here on down. This one is probably spillover from #2.


5. Altocumulus Castellanus

The only Cloud of the Day in the top ten. That surprises me. And I wonder why this one in particular.


6. Collective Nouns

A perennial favorite, and a favorite of mine. Murders and murmurations.


7. Most Unpleasant Sounds

This one also surprises me. A quirky little list.


8. 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just point them at this and not have to deal with them over and over?


9. Milankovitch Cycles – Obliquity

The only top ten post that I actually wrote this year. Part of a demanding series.


10. Microsculpture – The Insect Portraits of Levon Biss

Oh, good. I’m glad the list includes a tribute to beauty and hard work.

So, that was 2017. What are the odds that spanking will be #1 again in 2018?

rjb

Evolution – Part Three

Photo by Michael D. Gumert. – CC-BY – No larger image available

Some years ago I published a series of articles about evolution in my local newspaper. It generated some interest and a spate of letters to the editor, and my publisher liked it. There was even a creationist who challenged me to a debate over it. I decided to reproduce it here. This is part three, which I called Walk This Way. See also Part One and Part Two.

The first primates show up in the fossil record about 50-55 million years ago. They are part of the resulting explosion of new species that evolved to fill environmental niches vacated by the non-avian dinosaurs, after they went extinct sixty-five million years ago. Many of the new species are mammals, and we see a mammal-dominated landscape right now. Of the mammals, it is the primates which interest us the most, as they are our ancestors. Primates spread out and evolved into many different species, including lemurs, monkeys and apes. They can be found in most parts of the world, but it was in Africa where the line led to humans.

Between seven and eight million years ago a primate living in Africa split into two species. Such splits normally result when two populations of one species get separated somehow. Something like that happened to the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans. A fossil from that period shows definite signs of an upright, two-legged gait, but the oldest hominin fossil with extensive bipedal adaptations is Ardipithecus ramidus. That was the beginning of the hominin, or human-like primate. Since then it evolved and radiated out into many different hominin species, most of which have gone extinct.

The first evidence of stone tools shows up at least 2.6 million years ago, with some evidence that pre-homo hominins were using them as early as 3.3 million years ago. Undoubtedly they were using tools made of other materials like wood and grass, but only stone can survive long enough for us to find.

Homo erectus is thought to have tamed fire by about 1.8 million years ago. Others put the use of hearths beginning later, at about 800,000 and even only 300,000 years ago. Much of the discussion revolves around whether we were simply burning grasslands to improve hunting, or actually sitting around a hearth cooking food on a regular basis. Those favoring the earlier date cite the shrinking jaw and growing brain of H. erectus as evidence that they were cooking their food. The pinnacle of upright hominids seemed to have been reached, but their brains were only about half the size of ours. Larger than the brains of similar-sized animals, but still too small by our standards.

Increasing brain size was the next big step. By the time we reach the age of Neanderthals, about four hundred thousand years ago, and modern humans at about half that, our brains were as big as they are now.

Since then it’s been a matter of social and technological evolution. The first jewelry shows up about 75-100 thousand years ago. The first garments appear to have been manufactured about 100 thousand years earlier, based on the evolution of body lice. The tool set became extremely sophisticated.

Neanderthals died out about thirty thousand years ago, leaving only a single hominid species on Earth for the first time in millions of years. Our cultural evolution continued to accelerate, as evidenced by sophisticated cave paintings, bringing us to the present state of high civilization.

Let’s hope we’re not due for another mass extinction.

rjb

A reply to Alice Roberts and Mark Maslin

The Waterside Ape BBC Radio 4 reply to Alice Roberts and Mark Maslin

In my recent post, Aquatic Ape Attacked Again, I pointed to an article that purported to falsify what is commonly referred to as the Aquatic Ape Theory. My post pointed out a few of the shortcomings of that article. Now here’s a link that does a much more thorough job of it.

Source: A reply to Alice Roberts and Mark Maslin

If you’re interested in the theory, or in paleontology in general, I recommend checking out this latest development.

rjb

Aquatic Ape – Attacked Again

David Attenborough’s latest BBC documentary indulges wishful thinking over evidence.

Internet magazine, The Conversation, has published an article by authors Alice Roberts and Mark Maslin entitled “Sorry David Attenborough, we didn’t evolve from ‘aquatic apes’ — here’s why.” They begin by claiming that the Aquatic Ape Theory (AAT) suggests that a whole raft of our biological features stem from an aquatic phase in our evolution. Then they go on to imply that the “hypothesis” says that everything about those features could only have come about due to time spent in the water. Once they have set up this implausible falsehood, they proceed to cherry-pick it apart, beginning with the fact that the “hypothesis” had its beginnings a long time ago, and we’ve learned a lot since. They imply that the AAT is the plaything of fuzzy-thinking amateurs, while they represent clear-headed professionalism. In other words, it’s the same old thing all over again, only from a new generation of Savanna apologists.

Like their predecessors, they portray the AAT as an unscientific Just So Story, and say that all of the anatomical features can just as easily be attributed to other hypotheses. We’re left to presume that these other hypotheses are not Just So Stories, but Real Science. They run through all their Straw Men, showing that there are plausible explanations for all of them, thus implying that the Aquatic Ape explanations are not plausible. Then they accuse the proponents of the AAT of trying to use it to explain everything. That’s a typical ploy. You ask your opponent to support their argument, then when they’ve done so, you accuse them of overdoing it. It’s very handy. Either they don’t have enough, or they have too much. You simply ignore the sweet spot in between, all the while highlighting the weaker arguments and ignoring the stronger ones.

Their conclusion is nothing more than a reiteration of their opinions and beliefs. There’s nothing new here. It’s just the same old thing dressed up in new clothes. They say they’re making use of new knowledge and new ideas, but it’s obvious they’ve restricted themselves to those they agree with.

See for yourself.

Source: Sorry David Attenborough, we didn’t evolve from ‘aquatic apes’ – here’s why

rjb

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