Sunday, March 23, 2008

Any way you slice it - I'm OLD

This new scientific finding will, I predict, involve a rewriting of the most popular working hypothesis on hominid evolution. After reading this article which informs that the approximately 6 million year old Orrorin fossil indicates upright walking, take a look at this video to remind yourself the facts concerning the Laetoli footprints from about 3.5 million years ago.



Here’s where I think we have a problem in hypothesis. For most of the past 20 years it was thought that hominids and chimpanzees split, and went off on their own evolutionary trajectories, about 5 million years ago. Due to the discoveries of Orrion and Tchadensis (this decade) the date for that split has been pushed back significantly. I’ve heard 6 million years mentioned as a possible split time.

But – now that Orrorin (said to be about 6 million years old) has been tagged as an “upright walker”, where does that leave the hypothesis? As the video makes clear, bipedalism would likely have come at the cost of considerable time. Are we talking about 7 million years (or more) since the split? I think it’s possible we will be hearing this in coming years.

Human evolution timeline

10 comments:

The Exterminator said...

With all those millions of years of walking, I'm embarrassed that I drive almost everywhere.

the chaplain said...

Thanks a bunch. I thought I was just getting old. Now you're telling me that I've already gotten there.

PhillyChief said...

How much you want to bet that the one they say was following in that clip was imploring the ones in front to walk on all fours instead like Oogy, god of the mountain, said to do and that they risk eternal death in the belly of the Earth for disobeying with their sinful, bipedal walking?


You know one of that guy's ancestors, having little to show in terms of development since then, will likely point to this story as proof that evolution and it's "shifting sands of evidence" are all bunk and that you shouldn't trust what science offers as proof, except for when it says what they thought before was incorrect, in which case you can use it to prove your god did it, despite the fact that this neither proves a creator nor disproves evolution.

Grumpy Lion said...

We had toes? Damn, I voted for flippers.

Ordinary Girl said...

Pretty cool. I hadn't heard of this. Thanks for sharing, Evo.

John Evo said...

Philly, they are quick to point out the changes in Science, but unwilling to acknowledge the beauty of that. If it's wrong, it's corrected. When was the last time they corrected the Bible?

And, as ususual, the "wrong" has to do with a minor point. No one doubts that man and chimp diverged on seperate evolutionary paths (or, more importantly, THE FACT of evolution).

Likewise, certain aspects of cosmology are always being updated, yet no one disputes the basic premise of the Big Bang and the expanding universe.

H/T to BJKeefe for this

John Evo said...

Lion - I would have thought you'd go with claws.

(for fins you need to go back another 350 MYA).

Anonymous said...

But – now that Orrorin (said to be about 6 million years old) has been tagged as an “upright walker”, where does that leave the hypothesis? As the video makes clear, bipedalism would likely have come at the cost of considerable time.

The video -- actually, Lovejoy -- didn't exactly say that. He said that the morphology of the foot in the Laetoli prints would have taken a long time to 'tune.' That tuning would have occurred after bipedalism arose. There's no indication that Orrorin had the same foot structure.

John Evo said...

Anonymous, I stand corrected. It still seems improbable that Orrorin was among the very first bipedal apes. I guess it's possible that the single specimen we have from 6 MYA was one of the first to exhibit this behavior.

Either we just happened to find a founder or (parsimony) bipedial apes arose at some earlier date.

Now, what could be fairly argued (I suppose) is that upright walking could have arisen with a couple of hundred thousand years. That would still put hominids at >6.2 MYA. If it took many hundreds of thousands of years... well, you see my point?

bullet said...

There are so many things I don't know. *Sigh*