Human organ evolution (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, April 20, 2018, 15:16 (365 days ago)

Deep divers have big spleens:

https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/52347/title/Free-Divers-From-Sou...


Researchers have identified a genetic variant that likely results in larger spleens among the Bajau people in Southeast Asia, conferring better endurance for free diving in the ocean. The study, published today (April 19) in Cell, is an uncommon example of natural selection in modern humans that likely occurred on the order of hundreds or thousands of years.

“'This is a fascinating example of how humans can, in a relatively short amount of time, adapt to a local environment,” says study coauthor Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California, Berkeley.

"The Bajau people live in villages scattered throughout Southeast Asia, spending much of their day using traditional spears and other simple equipment to collect fish and shellfish by free diving—holding their breath. They have subsisted on this hunting method for more than 1,000 years.

"The human body has a few tricks to increase the time spent underwater in an oxygen-deficient environment. One way is to boost red blood cell production, which allows for more efficient oxygen delivery to organs and tissues, or to expand their lung capacity. A third adaptation—which the authors describe for the first time today—is increasing the size of the spleen, which stores oxygenated red blood cells and contracts during diving to release the blood cells into circulation. (another article says it boosts oxygenated red cells by 9%)

***

"Ilardo and her colleagues found that the spleens of the Bajau people were about 50 percent larger compared to the Saluans, even while taking into account individuals’ gender, age, weight, and height.

"Next, the team compared the genomic sequences of Bajau and Saluan participants to those of the Han Chinese as a control, unrelated group. Scanning for variants, the group identified the top 25 polymorphisms that were unique to the Bajau genomes, suggesting natural selection pressures were at work. The study authors created a phylogenetic tree, calculating that the Bajau and Saluans diverged about 15,000 years ago, suggesting that the Bajau-unique genetic variants evolved some time after this divergence.

***

“'This work provides the first evidence for genetic adaptation in diving human populations and elucidates genetic pathways important in hypoxia tolerance,” Tatum Simonson, who studies the physiology and genetics of high-altitude adaptation at the University of California, San Diego Health Sciences, and was not involved in the work, writes in an email to The Scientist.

"The team’s top hit, a variant adjacent to the BDKRB2 gene, is the only other gene that has previously been found to be associated with a human diving response, but not with spleen size. “We have no idea what it does to change the diving reflex. That is something we would like to explore next,” says Nielsen."

Comment: This is an organ adaptation, not a change in the human species.

Human organ evolution

by dhw, Saturday, April 21, 2018, 10:17 (364 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Deep divers have big spleens:
https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/52347/title/Free-Divers-From-Sou...

DAVID’s comment: This is an organ adaptation, not a change in the human species.

Yes indeed, but it confirms a pattern which runs through so many of these threads. Adaptation to the environment causes changes to the body, but we don’t know the extent to which the body can change itself. The divers didn’t tell their spleens to get bigger. Of course it may be that natural selection caused bigger spleens to outlive smaller spleens, but an alternative would be the process already observed elsewhere, i.e. that concentrated usage results in expansion of the organs used. With musicians and taxi drivers it’s parts of the brain, and with the divers it’s the spleen. One can envisage the same process occurring when land animals entered the water, and limbs became fins, or vice versa, with fish evolving legs out of fins. Not proven, of course, but there is a satisfying consistency in this hypothesis, and it still allows for your God as the inventor of the mechanism that makes it all possible.

Human organ evolution

by David Turell @, Saturday, April 21, 2018, 15:19 (364 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Deep divers have big spleens:
https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/52347/title/Free-Divers-From-Sou...

DAVID’s comment: This is an organ adaptation, not a change in the human species.

dhw: Yes indeed, but it confirms a pattern which runs through so many of these threads. Adaptation to the environment causes changes to the body, but we don’t know the extent to which the body can change itself. The divers didn’t tell their spleens to get bigger. Of course it may be that natural selection caused bigger spleens to outlive smaller spleens, but an alternative would be the process already observed elsewhere, i.e. that concentrated usage results in expansion of the organs used. With musicians and taxi drivers it’s parts of the brain, and with the divers it’s the spleen. One can envisage the same process occurring when land animals entered the water, and limbs became fins, or vice versa, with fish evolving legs out of fins. Not proven, of course, but there is a satisfying consistency in this hypothesis, and it still allows for your God as the inventor of the mechanism that makes it all possible.

It is possible that the explanation lies with the first that dived. Those with larger spleens were more productive and produced more divers. The process repeated over and over made the folks we have today. Pure Darwin which makes sense in this case. I see no parallel in those mammals that took to water. That has to be saltation.

Human organ evolution

by dhw, Sunday, April 22, 2018, 13:18 (363 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Deep divers have big spleens:
https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/52347/title/Free-Divers-From-Sou...

DAVID’s comment: This is an organ adaptation, not a change in the human species.

dhw: Yes indeed, but it confirms a pattern which runs through so many of these threads. Adaptation to the environment causes changes to the body, but we don’t know the extent to which the body can change itself. The divers didn’t tell their spleens to get bigger. Of course it may be that natural selection caused bigger spleens to outlive smaller spleens, but an alternative would be the process already observed elsewhere, i.e. that concentrated usage results in expansion of the organs used. With musicians and taxi drivers it’s parts of the brain, and with the divers it’s the spleen. One can envisage the same process occurring when land animals entered the water, and limbs became fins, or vice versa, with fish evolving legs out of fins. Not proven, of course, but there is a satisfying consistency in this hypothesis, and it still allows for your God as the inventor of the mechanism that makes it all possible.

DAVID: It is possible that the explanation lies with the first that dived. Those with larger spleens were more productive and produced more divers. The process repeated over and over made the folks we have today. Pure Darwin which makes sense in this case.

Yes, as I said above (now bolded), that is natural selection. Nice to see you defending Darwin for a change! But the alternative origin seems equally possible to me: that usage resulted in expansion, which was passed on to following generations.

DAVID: I see no parallel in those mammals that took to water. That has to be saltation.

If particular usage can change the structure of the brain, and exercise can expand muscles, I don’t see why it can’t change other structures too, but the question is always to what extent, and in this case how quickly. The answer is that we don’t know. Given the choice between your God changing pre-whales’ legs into fins before they entered the water, and pre-whales entering the water with legs, and legs then changing into fins, I would opt for the latter, saltation or not. But of course that is a subjective view.

Human organ evolution

by David Turell @, Sunday, April 22, 2018, 15:20 (363 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Deep divers have big spleens:
https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/52347/title/Free-Divers-From-Sou...

DAVID’s comment: This is an organ adaptation, not a change in the human species.

dhw: Yes indeed, but it confirms a pattern which runs through so many of these threads. Adaptation to the environment causes changes to the body, but we don’t know the extent to which the body can change itself. The divers didn’t tell their spleens to get bigger. Of course it may be that natural selection caused bigger spleens to outlive smaller spleens, but an alternative would be the process already observed elsewhere, i.e. that concentrated usage results in expansion of the organs used. With musicians and taxi drivers it’s parts of the brain, and with the divers it’s the spleen. One can envisage the same process occurring when land animals entered the water, and limbs became fins, or vice versa, with fish evolving legs out of fins. Not proven, of course, but there is a satisfying consistency in this hypothesis, and it still allows for your God as the inventor of the mechanism that makes it all possible.

DAVID: It is possible that the explanation lies with the first that dived. Those with larger spleens were more productive and produced more divers. The process repeated over and over made the folks we have today. Pure Darwin which makes sense in this case.

dhw: Yes, as I said above (now bolded), that is natural selection. Nice to see you defending Darwin for a change! But the alternative origin seems equally possible to me: that usage resulted in expansion, which was passed on to following generations.

Yes, possible.


DAVID: I see no parallel in those mammals that took to water. That has to be saltation.

dhw: If particular usage can change the structure of the brain, and exercise can expand muscles, I don’t see why it can’t change other structures too, but the question is always to what extent, and in this case how quickly. The answer is that we don’t know. Given the choice between your God changing pre-whales’ legs into fins before they entered the water, and pre-whales entering the water with legs, and legs then changing into fins, I would opt for the latter, saltation or not. But of course that is a subjective view.

Enlargement of muscles is a process unique to muscles. Brain plasticity is unique to the brain. Water habitat requires enormous anatomical and physiological changes well beyond the muscle or brain changes.

Human evolution; influence of our biome

by David Turell @, Saturday, June 23, 2018, 19:48 (300 days ago) @ David Turell

Resident good bacteria have influenced our evolution:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180621172437.htm

"Research tells us that the commensal or "good" bacteria that inhabit our intestines help to regulate our metabolism.

"In the intestine, digestive cells use an innate immune pathway to respond to harmful bacteria. But other intestinal cells, enteroendocrine cells, use the same pathway, known as IMD, to respond to "good" bacteria -- by fine-tuning body metabolism to diet and intestinal conditions.

"'Some innate immune pathways aren't just for innate immunity," says Watnick. "Innate immune pathways are also listening to the 'good' bacteria -- and responding metabolically."

"Watnick and her colleagues knew from their previous research that bacteria living in flies' intestines make a short-chain fatty acid, acetate, that is essential for the flies' own lipid metabolism and insulin signaling. Flies with no bacteria in their intestines (and hence, no acetate) accumulated fat droplets in their digestive cells. The lab of Norbert Perrimon, PhD, at Harvard Medical School had previously found similar fat droplets in flies whose enteroendocrine cells lacked tachykinin, an insulin-like protein important in growth, lipid metabolism and insulin signaling.

"'When there's a problem processing glucose or lipids, fats get stuck in these droplets in cells that are not designed for fat storage," she says.

***

"Watnick believes these fat droplets, whether caused by loss of intestinal bacteria, loss of tachykinin or loss of the innate immune pathway, are the equivalent of fatty liver. Their accumulation is a sign that the body cannot properly metabolize carbohydrates and fats. In essence, Watnick thinks these flies have metabolic syndrome, commonly associated with obesity and type 1 diabetes.

"How are intestinal bacteria, the innate immune system and metabolism related? Through a series of experiments, the team began to tease out exactly how bacteria exert their metabolic influence. They showed that:

"The innate immune pathway spurs enteroendocrine cells to produce tachykinin.

"In the absence of either bacteria or their breakdown product, acetate, no tachykinin is made.
When germ-free flies are given acetate, the innate immune pathway is reactivated and their metabolism normalizes.

"A specific innate immune receptor on enteroendocrine cells, PGRP-LC, is required to receive the acetate signal.

"'We know bacteria control our metabolism, but no one realized that bacteria were interacting with innate immune signaling pathways in enteroendocrine cells," says Watnick. "Maybe these pathways are really a system that allows cells to recognize bacteria for different reasons."

***

"Though Watnick would now like to confirm these findings in a mammalian model, the study further sketches out what appears to be a two-pronged interaction between our microbiome and our metabolism. Good bacteria ferment nutrients in our diet and release short-chain fatty acids like acetate, which help us optimize our use and storage of nutrients. Pathogenic "bad" bacteria do the opposite: They consume fatty acids, impeding healthful metabolism. An imbalance in our intestinal microbiome has been linked to obesity and sometimes contributes to malnutrition."

Comment: since is seen in fruit flies, it more than likely the bacterial mechanism was present in early primate ancestors and passed on to us. Both viruses and bacteria guided evolution.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism, 1

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 03, 2018, 23:41 (290 days ago) @ David Turell

Until it is understood how complex is our ability to speak, how the changes from the ape form are so different and require obviously a tremendous number of mutations, it becomes obvious we are highly different from apes, and much more than primates. We are a giant highly different step beyond. Please read the article for completeness provided by the diagrams and for the voluminous text which has new research beyond the book I've quoted from 1992:

https://www.the-scientist.com/features/why-human-speech-is-special--64351?utm_campaign=...

"as most speech scientists agree, there is no such thing as pure phonemes (though some linguists still cling to the idea). Discrete phonemes do not exist as such in the speech signal, and instead are always blended together in words. Even “stop consonants,” such as , [p], [t], and [g], don’t exist as isolated entities; it is impossible to utter a stop consonant without also producing a vowel before or after it. As such, the consonant [t] in the spoken word tea, for example, sounds quite different from that in the word to. To produce the vowel sound in to, the speakers’ lips are protruded and narrowed, while they are retracted and open for the vowel sound in tea, yielding different acoustic representations of the initial consonant.

***

"computer systems that recognize and synthesize human speech are commonplace. All of these programs, such as the digital assistant Siri on iPhones, work at the word level. What linguists now know about how the brain functions to recover words from streams of speech now supports this word-level approach to speech reproduction. How humans process speech has also been molded by the physiology of speech production. Research on the neural bases of other aspects of motor control, such as learned hand-arm movements, suggests that phonemes reflect instruction sets for commands in the motor cortex that ultimately control the muscles that move our tongues, lips, jaws, and larynxes as we talk. But that remains a hypothesis. What is clear about language, however, is that humans are unique among extant species in the animal kingdom. From the anatomy of our vocal tracts to the complexity of our brains to the multifarious cultures that depend on the sharing of detailed information, humans have evolved the ability to communicate like no other species on Earth.

***

" In the human body, the lungs serve as the bellows, providing the source of acoustic energy for speech production. The supra-laryngeal vocal tract (SVT), the airway above the larynx, acts as the pipes, determining the formant frequencies that are produced.

***

"During speech, however, the diaphragm is immobilized and alveolar air pressure is maintained at an almost uniform level until the end of expiration, as a speaker adjusts her intercostal and abdominal muscles to “hold back” against the force generated by the elastic recoil of the lungs.

"This pressure, in combination with the tension of the muscles that make up the vocal cords of the larynx, determines the rate at which the vocal cords open and close—what’s known as the fundamental frequency of phonation (F0), perceived as the pitch of a speaker’s voice.

***

Adult women produced formant frequencies that were higher for the same vowels because their SVTs were shorter than the men’s. Adolescents’ formant frequencies were higher still. Nonetheless, human listeners are typically able to identify these spoken vowel sounds thanks to a cognitive process known as perceptual normalization, by which we unconsciously estimate the length of a speaker’s SVT and correct for the corresponding shift in formant frequencies.

***

"In short, people unconsciously take account of the fact that formant frequency patterns, which play a major role in specifying words, depend on the length of a speaker’s vocal tract. And both the fossil record and the ontogenetic development of children suggest that the anatomy of our heads, necks, and tongues have been molded by evolution to produce the sounds that clearly communicate the intended information.

***

"In addition to the anatomy of the SVT, humans have evolved increased synaptic connectivity and malleability in certain neural circuits in the brain important for producing and understanding speech. Specifically, circuits linking cortical regions and the subcortical basal ganglia appear critical to support human language."

Comment: Go to 2

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism, 2

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 03, 2018, 23:51 (290 days ago) @ David Turell

The Evolution of this system is complex:

"In On the Origin of Species, Darwin noted “the strange fact that every particle of food and drink which we swallow has to pass over the orifice of the trachea, with some risk of falling into the lungs.” Because of this odd anatomy, which differs from that of all other mammals, choking on food remains the fourth leading cause of accidental death in the United States. This species-specific problem is a consequence of the mutations that crafted the human face, pharynx, and tongue so as to make it easier to speak and to correctly interpret the acoustic speech signals that we hear.

"At birth, the human tongue is flat in the mouth, as is the case for other mammals. The larynx, which rests atop the trachea, is anchored to the root of the tongue. As infants suckle, they raise the larynx to form a sealed passage from the nose to the lungs, allowing them to breathe while liquid flows around the larynx. Most mammalian species retain this morphology throughout life, which explains why cats or dogs can lap up water while breathing. In humans, however, a developmental process that spans the first 8 to 10 years of life forms the adult version of the SVT. First, the skull is reshaped, shortening the relative length of the oral cavity. The tongue begins to descend down into the pharynx, while the neck increases in length and becomes rounded in the back. Following these changes, half the tongue is positioned horizontally in the oral cavity (and thus called the SVTh), while the other half (SVTv) is positioned vertically in the pharynx. The two halves meet at an approximate right angle at the back of the throat. The tongue’s extrinsic muscles, anchored in various bones of the head, can move the tongue to create an abrupt 10-fold change in the SVT’s cross-sectional area. (See illustration)

***

" This gives the adult human supralaryngeal vocal tract (SVT) two parts of nearly equal lengths that meet at a right angle: the horizontal portion of the oral cavity and the vertical portion associated with the pharynx. At the intersection of these two segments occur abrupt changes in the cross-sectional area of the SVT that allow humans to produce a range of sounds not possible for infants and nonhuman animals.

"As it turns out, the configuration of the adult human tongue’s oral and pharyngeal proportions and shape allow mature human vocal tracts to produce the vowels , , and [a] (as in the word ma). These quantal vowels produce frequency peaks analogous to saturated colors, are more distinct than other vowels, and are resistant to small errors in tongue placement.5 Thus, while not required for language, these vowel sounds buffer speech against misinterpretation. This may explain why all human languages use these vowels.

"This anatomy also begins to answer long-standing questions in language research: How did human speech come to be, and why don’t other animals talk? In 1969, my colleagues and I used a computer modeling technique to calculate the formant frequency patterns of the vowels that a rhesus macaque’s SVT could produce, based on an estimated range of tongue shapes and positions. We found that even when the monkeys’ tongues were positioned as far as possible toward the SVT configurations used by adult human speakers to yield the vowels , , and [a], the animals could not produce the appropriate formant frequencies. Three years later, using X-ray videos showing the movement of the vocal tract during newborn baby cries, we refined and replicated this study and found that, although chimpanzees and human newborns (which start life with a monkey-like SVT) produce a range of vowels, they could not produce s or s. This finding has since been replicated in independent studies, including in 2017 by the University of Vienna’s Tecumseh Fitch and colleagues. Those scientists used current computer techniques that readily model every vocal tract shape that a macaque could produce, and the research team confirmed that monkey vocal tracts were incapable of producing these vowels.

***

"It is now apparent that a massive epigenetic restructuring of the genes that determine the anatomy of the head, neck, tongue, larynx, and mouth enhanced our ability to talk after anatomically modern humans split from Neanderthals and Denisovans more than 450,000 years ago. A few years ago, David Gokhman, then at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and colleagues reconstructed the methylated genomic regions of a 40,000-year-old Neanderthal fossil, an older Denisovan fossil, four ancient humans who lived 7,000 to 40,000 years ago, and six chimpanzees, comparing these with a methylation map of human bone cells assembled from more than 55 present-day humans. This comparison enabled the team to identify differentially methylated regions (DMRs) between the human and Neanderthal-Denisovan groups, and between humans and chimps.9,10 The researchers found that the genes that were most affected were those that controlled development of the larynx and pharynx, suggesting that epigenetic regulatory changes allowed the human vocal tract to morph into a shape that is optimal for speech.

"Of course, the fact that monkeys don’t talk like humans isn’t purely due to the physical limitations of their vocal tracts. They also lack the neural networks necessary for producing and processing speech. "

Comment: See 3 which covers mutations and neural change.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism, 3

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 04, 2018, 00:04 (290 days ago) @ David Turell

Mutation changes:

"One key contributor to the evolution of human speech is the FOXP2 transcription factor. Humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans share a mutation in the gene for FOXP2 that nonhuman primates lack. Early evidence of FOXP2’s role in human speech and language comes from studies of the KE family, a large extended family living in London in the second half of the 20th century. Some members had only one copy of FOXP2 and had extreme difficulty talking; their speech was unintelligible, and problems extended to orofacial motor control. They also had difficulties forming and understanding English sentences.

"The importance of FOXP2 has been further confirmed by knock-in mouse studies. When the human version of the gene for the FOXP2 transcription factor is inserted into mouse embryos, the animals exhibited enhanced synaptic connectivity and malleability in cortical–basal ganglia neural circuits that regulate motor control, including speech. The evolution of these circuits appears to have a deep evolutionary history going back to the Permian age, 300 million years ago. Avian versions of the FOXP1 and FOXP2 transcription factors act on the basal ganglia circuits involved when songbirds learn and execute songs.

"Exactly how the brain dictates the movement of the vocal tract to produce speech remains murky. Many studies have shown that “matrisomes” of neurons in the motor cortex are instruction sets for the motor commands that orchestrate a learned act. Assemblies of neurons in the motor cortex are formed when a task is learned, and these assemblies guide coordinated muscle activity. To sip a cup of coffee or type at a keyboard, for example, hand, arm, wrist, and other movements are coded in matrisomes. Similar matrisomes likely govern the muscles that move the tongue, lips, jaw, and larynx and control lung pressure during speech, but researchers are just starting to explore this idea. In short, brains and anatomy were both involved in the evolution of human speech and language.

"In 1971, Yale’s Edmund Crelin and I published our computer modeling study of a reconstructed Neanderthal vocal tract.14 We concluded that Neanderthals had vocal tracts that were similar to those of newborn human infants and monkeys and hence could not produce the quantal vowels [a], , and . However, the available archaeological evidence suggested that their brains were quite advanced, and that, unlike monkeys, they could talk, albeit with reduced intelligibility. We concluded that Neanderthals possessed both speech and language. In short, current research suggests a deep evolutionary origin for human language and speech, with our ancestors possessing capabilities close to our own as long as 300,000 years ago.

"Speech is an essential part of human culture, and thus of human evolution. In the first edition of On the Origin of Species, Darwin stressed the interplay of natural selection and ecosystems: human culture acts as an agent to create new ecosystems, which, in turn, directs the course of natural selection. Language is the mechanism by which the aggregated knowledge of human cultures is transmitted, and until very recent times, speech was the sole medium of language. Humans have retained a strange vocal tract that enhances the robustness of speech. We could say that we are because we can talk. "

Comment: Different folks do very different things with their languages which shows how flexible the speech mechanism can be: Hawaiian has almost no consonants, just 'l' and 'k'. In the Kalahari of Africa the bushmen use a click language. About 7,000 languages are recognized! The last paragraph indicates that we are much more than primates from a functional standpoint. We may look like apes, but the relationship stops there. Please read the whole article for deeper appreciation of my point: we are tremendously different in kind.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism, 3

by dhw, Wednesday, July 04, 2018, 11:25 (290 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Until it is understood how complex is our ability to speak, how the changes from the ape form are so different and require obviously a tremendous number of mutations, it becomes obvious we are highly different from apes, and much more than primates. We are a giant highly different step beyond.

I greatly appreciate the research you do and the vast variety of articles you provide to give me and others an ongoing education, but you really don’t have to go to all these lengths to demonstrate that we are “highly different from apes” and are a “giant highly different step beyond”. It is blindingly obvious from everything that we have created (and destroyed). Thank you for all the information, but there is nothing in these posts for us to discuss.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism, 3

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 04, 2018, 17:33 (289 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Until it is understood how complex is our ability to speak, how the changes from the ape form are so different and require obviously a tremendous number of mutations, it becomes obvious we are highly different from apes, and much more than primates. We are a giant highly different step beyond.

dhw: I greatly appreciate the research you do and the vast variety of articles you provide to give me and others an ongoing education, but you really don’t have to go to all these lengths to demonstrate that we are “highly different from apes” and are a “giant highly different step beyond”. It is blindingly obvious from everything that we have created (and destroyed). Thank you for all the information, but there is nothing in these posts for us to discuss.

I agree. I present these posts as evidence to be considered in the discussions about the presence of God and His role in evolution in line with the purposes of this website.

Human evolution; from several starting points in Africa

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 14, 2018, 01:09 (280 days ago) @ David Turell

A new theory proposes H. sapiens sprung up in several places in Africa and gradually coalesced into our current form:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jul/11/no-single-birthplace-of-mankind-say-sci...

" a team of prominent scientists is now calling for a rewriting of this traditional narrative, based on a comprehensive survey of fossil, archaeological and genetic evidence. Instead, the international team argue, the distinctive features that make us human emerged mosaic-like across different populations spanning the entire African continent. Only after tens or hundreds of thousands of years of interbreeding and cultural exchange between these semi-isolated groups, did the fully fledged modern human come into being.

***

"This continental-wide view would help reconcile contradictory interpretations of early Homo sapiens fossils varying greatly in shape, scattered from South Africa (Florisbad) to Ethiopia (Omo Kibish) to Morocco (Jebel Irhoud).

***

"The latest analysis suggests that this patchwork emergence of human traits can be explained by the existence of multiple populations that were periodically separated for millennia by rivers, deserts, forests and mountains before coming into contact again due to shifts in the climate. “These barriers created migration and contact opportunities for groups that may previously have been separated, and later fluctuation might have meant populations that mixed for a short while became isolated again,” said Scerri.

"The trend towards more sophisticated stone tools, jewellery and cooking implements also supports the theory, according to the paper...

***

“'Someone finds a skull somewhere and that’s the source of humanity. Someone finds some tools somewhere, that’s the source of humanity,” she said, describing the latest approach as: “‘Let’s be inclusive and construct a model based on all the data we have available.”

"The analysis also paints a picture of humans as a far more diverse collection of species and sub-populations than exists today. Between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago, our own ancestors lived alongside a primitive human species called Homo naledi, found in southern Africa, a larger brained species called Homo heidelbergensis in central Africa and perhaps myriad other humans yet to be discovered."

Comment: It is a strange thought to imagine various types of humans evolving everywhere from their ape-like ancestors, all to end up as one surviving type. Sounds like a purposeful drive. A major problem is the paucity of wide-spread homo fossils to fill in the story.

Human evolution; from several starting points in Africa

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Saturday, July 14, 2018, 02:15 (280 days ago) @ David Turell

A new theory proposes H. sapiens sprung up in several places in Africa and gradually coalesced into our current form:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jul/11/no-single-birthplace-of-mankind-say-sci...

" a team of prominent scientists is now calling for a rewriting of this traditional narrative, based on a comprehensive survey of fossil, archaeological and genetic evidence. Instead, the international team argue, the distinctive features that make us human emerged mosaic-like across different populations spanning the entire African continent. Only after tens or hundreds of thousands of years of interbreeding and cultural exchange between these semi-isolated groups, did the fully fledged modern human come into being.

***

"This continental-wide view would help reconcile contradictory interpretations of early Homo sapiens fossils varying greatly in shape, scattered from South Africa (Florisbad) to Ethiopia (Omo Kibish) to Morocco (Jebel Irhoud).

***

"The latest analysis suggests that this patchwork emergence of human traits can be explained by the existence of multiple populations that were periodically separated for millennia by rivers, deserts, forests and mountains before coming into contact again due to shifts in the climate. “These barriers created migration and contact opportunities for groups that may previously have been separated, and later fluctuation might have meant populations that mixed for a short while became isolated again,” said Scerri.

"The trend towards more sophisticated stone tools, jewellery and cooking implements also supports the theory, according to the paper...

***

“'Someone finds a skull somewhere and that’s the source of humanity. Someone finds some tools somewhere, that’s the source of humanity,” she said, describing the latest approach as: “‘Let’s be inclusive and construct a model based on all the data we have available.”

"The analysis also paints a picture of humans as a far more diverse collection of species and sub-populations than exists today. Between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago, our own ancestors lived alongside a primitive human species called Homo naledi, found in southern Africa, a larger brained species called Homo heidelbergensis in central Africa and perhaps myriad other humans yet to be discovered."

David: Comment: It is a strange thought to imagine various types of humans evolving everywhere from their ape-like ancestors, all to end up as one surviving type. Sounds like a purposeful drive. A major problem is the paucity of wide-spread homo fossils to fill in the story.


Sounds like the scattering at Babel. Within a few generations the dominant morphological traits of the group would be pretty much set. It would also explain a lot of other non-biological mysteries.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Human evolution; from several starting points in Africa

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 14, 2018, 04:43 (280 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

A new theory proposes H. sapiens sprung up in several places in Africa and gradually coalesced into our current form:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jul/11/no-single-birthplace-of-mankind-say-sci...

" a team of prominent scientists is now calling for a rewriting of this traditional narrative, based on a comprehensive survey of fossil, archaeological and genetic evidence. Instead, the international team argue, the distinctive features that make us human emerged mosaic-like across different populations spanning the entire African continent. Only after tens or hundreds of thousands of years of interbreeding and cultural exchange between these semi-isolated groups, did the fully fledged modern human come into being.

***

"This continental-wide view would help reconcile contradictory interpretations of early Homo sapiens fossils varying greatly in shape, scattered from South Africa (Florisbad) to Ethiopia (Omo Kibish) to Morocco (Jebel Irhoud).

***

"The latest analysis suggests that this patchwork emergence of human traits can be explained by the existence of multiple populations that were periodically separated for millennia by rivers, deserts, forests and mountains before coming into contact again due to shifts in the climate. “These barriers created migration and contact opportunities for groups that may previously have been separated, and later fluctuation might have meant populations that mixed for a short while became isolated again,” said Scerri.

"The trend towards more sophisticated stone tools, jewellery and cooking implements also supports the theory, according to the paper...

***

“'Someone finds a skull somewhere and that’s the source of humanity. Someone finds some tools somewhere, that’s the source of humanity,” she said, describing the latest approach as: “‘Let’s be inclusive and construct a model based on all the data we have available.”

"The analysis also paints a picture of humans as a far more diverse collection of species and sub-populations than exists today. Between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago, our own ancestors lived alongside a primitive human species called Homo naledi, found in southern Africa, a larger brained species called Homo heidelbergensis in central Africa and perhaps myriad other humans yet to be discovered."

David: Comment: It is a strange thought to imagine various types of humans evolving everywhere from their ape-like ancestors, all to end up as one surviving type. Sounds like a purposeful drive. A major problem is the paucity of wide-spread homo fossils to fill in the story.

Tony: Sounds like the scattering at Babel. Within a few generations the dominant morphological traits of the group would be pretty much set. It would also explain a lot of other non-biological mysteries.

To reach one cohesive phenotype, there would have to be inter group cross breeding. How does that happen if they are scattered into small enclaves?

Human evolution; from several starting points in Africa

by Balance_Maintained @, U.S.A., Saturday, July 14, 2018, 05:47 (280 days ago) @ David Turell

A new theory proposes H. sapiens sprung up in several places in Africa and gradually coalesced into our current form:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jul/11/no-single-birthplace-of-mankind-say-sci...

" a team of prominent scientists is now calling for a rewriting of this traditional narrative, based on a comprehensive survey of fossil, archaeological and genetic evidence. Instead, the international team argue, the distinctive features that make us human emerged mosaic-like across different populations spanning the entire African continent. Only after tens or hundreds of thousands of years of interbreeding and cultural exchange between these semi-isolated groups, did the fully fledged modern human come into being.

***

"This continental-wide view would help reconcile contradictory interpretations of early Homo sapiens fossils varying greatly in shape, scattered from South Africa (Florisbad) to Ethiopia (Omo Kibish) to Morocco (Jebel Irhoud).

***

"The latest analysis suggests that this patchwork emergence of human traits can be explained by the existence of multiple populations that were periodically separated for millennia by rivers, deserts, forests and mountains before coming into contact again due to shifts in the climate. “These barriers created migration and contact opportunities for groups that may previously have been separated, and later fluctuation might have meant populations that mixed for a short while became isolated again,” said Scerri.

"The trend towards more sophisticated stone tools, jewellery and cooking implements also supports the theory, according to the paper...

***

“'Someone finds a skull somewhere and that’s the source of humanity. Someone finds some tools somewhere, that’s the source of humanity,” she said, describing the latest approach as: “‘Let’s be inclusive and construct a model based on all the data we have available.”

"The analysis also paints a picture of humans as a far more diverse collection of species and sub-populations than exists today. Between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago, our own ancestors lived alongside a primitive human species called Homo naledi, found in southern Africa, a larger brained species called Homo heidelbergensis in central Africa and perhaps myriad other humans yet to be discovered."

David: Comment: It is a strange thought to imagine various types of humans evolving everywhere from their ape-like ancestors, all to end up as one surviving type. Sounds like a purposeful drive. A major problem is the paucity of wide-spread homo fossils to fill in the story.

Tony: Sounds like the scattering at Babel. Within a few generations the dominant morphological traits of the group would be pretty much set. It would also explain a lot of other non-biological mysteries.


David: To reach one cohesive phenotype, there would have to be inter group cross breeding. How does that happen if they are scattered into small enclaves?

Trade, most likely.

--
What is the purpose of living? How about, 'to reduce needless suffering. It seems to me to be a worthy purpose.

Human evolution; from several starting points in Africa

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 14, 2018, 15:18 (280 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

"The analysis also paints a picture of humans as a far more diverse collection of species and sub-populations than exists today. Between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago, our own ancestors lived alongside a primitive human species called Homo naledi, found in southern Africa, a larger brained species called Homo heidelbergensis in central Africa and perhaps myriad other humans yet to be discovered."

David: Comment: It is a strange thought to imagine various types of humans evolving everywhere from their ape-like ancestors, all to end up as one surviving type. Sounds like a purposeful drive. A major problem is the paucity of wide-spread homo fossils to fill in the story.

Tony: Sounds like the scattering at Babel. Within a few generations the dominant morphological traits of the group would be pretty much set. It would also explain a lot of other non-biological mysteries.


David: To reach one cohesive phenotype, there would have to be inter group cross breeding. How does that happen if they are scattered into small enclaves?


Tony: Trade, most likely.

Trade has been recognized as contact points.

Human evolution; from several starting points in Africa

by David Turell @, Sunday, March 24, 2019, 20:39 (26 days ago) @ David Turell

Mainly from East Africa with an influence from South Africa according to new research:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190320101957.htm

"Modern Homo sapiens first arose in Africa more than 300,000 years ago, but there is great controversy amongst scholars about whether the earliest such people would have been 'just like us' in their mental capacities -- in the sense that, if they were brought up in a family from Yorkshire today, for example, would they be indistinguishable from the rest of the population? Nevertheless, archaeologists believe that people very like us were living in small communities in an Ice Age refuge on the South African coast by at least 100,000 years ago.

"Between around 100,000 and 70,000 years ago, these people left plentiful evidence that they were thinking and behaving like modern humans -- evidence for symbolism, such as the use of pigments (probably for body painting), drawings and engravings, shell beads, and tiny stone tools called microliths that might have been part of bows and arrows. Some of this evidence for what some archaeologists call "modern human behaviour" goes back even further, to more than 150,000 years.

***

"The Huddersfield-Minho team of geneticists, led by Professor Martin Richards at Huddersfield and Dr Pedro Soares in Braga, along with the eminent Cambridge archaeologist Professor Sir Paul Mellars, have studied the maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNA from Africans in unprecedented detail, and have identified a clear signal of a small-scale migration from South Africa to East Africa that took place at just that time, around 65,000 years ago. The signal is only evident today in the mitochondrial DNA. In the rest of the genome, it seems to have been eroded away to nothing by recombination -- the reshuffling of chromosomal genes between parents every generation, which doesn't affect the mitochondrial DNA -- in the intervening millennia.

"The migration signal makes good sense in terms of climate. For most of the last few hundred years, different parts of Africa have been out of step with each other in terms of the aridity of the climate. Only for a brief period at 60,000-70,000 years ago was there a window during which the continent as a whole experienced sufficient moisture to open up a corridor between the south and the east. And intriguingly, it was around 65,000 years ago that some of the signs of symbolism and technological complexity seen earlier in South Africa start to appear in the east.

"The identification of this signal opens up the possibility that a migration of a small group of people from South Africa towards the east around 65,000 years ago transmitted aspects of their sophisticated modern human culture to people in East Africa. Those East African people were biologically little different from the South Africans -- they were all modern Homo sapiens, their brains were just as advanced and they were undoubtedly cognitively ready to receive the benefits of the new ideas and upgrade. But the way it happened might not have been so very different from a modern isolated stone-age culture encountering and embracing western civilization today.

"In any case, it looks as if something happened when the groups from the South encountered the East, with the upshot being the greatest diaspora of Homo sapiens ever known -- both throughout Africa and out of Africa to settle much of Eurasia and as far as Australia within the space of only a few thousand years."

Comment: Adds to our knowledge as to how the different parts of Africa participated. Why the diapora at that point in time? Ready for it? Climate change?

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Sunday, November 18, 2018, 15:06 (153 days ago) @ David Turell

As explored by an artificial simulation of how the brain probably handles language grammar:

http://maxplanck.nautil.us/article/341/brainwaves-encode-the-grammar-of-human-language?...

"Every day you hear at least some utterances you’ve never heard before. That you can understand them is partly due to the fact that they are structured according to grammatical rules. Scientists have found that the human brain may use the relative timing of brainwaves to encode and decode the structures in a sentence.

"Grammar is a way of structuring information that makes language an efficient way to communicate. Knowing the grammatical rules of our language allows us to say pretty much anything we want, including things we have never heard before by combining words to (new) sentences. Being able to learn and use grammar is unique to humans. But it also creates a challenge for the science of how the brain processes human language—how do our brains, essentially a bunch of cells in a network, represent something as abstract as grammatical rules?

"Scientists at the University of Edinburgh and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics study this question with the help of computer-based models. They constructed an artificial neural network that simulates key features of the brain, such as densely connected populations of neurons that show neural oscillations. Neural oscillations are wave-like patterns of activity that happen at different frequencies, some very fast and some slow. The relative timing of these neural oscillations can help the brain encode grammatical relationships between words in a sentence, as Andrea Martin and Leonidas Doumas report in a paper in PLOS Biology.

"By encoding words in one oscillation, and phrases in another, the brain can keep track of words and phrases at the same time. This demonstrates how something as complex as a sentence can be encoded in the neural currency of oscillations. A key finding of the new study is that these artificial neural networks, when fed example sentences, give off patterns of energy that mimic what the brain does when it processes a sentence. Martin, lead author of the study, says: “This work helps us understand how the brain solves a complex puzzle and why it gives off the activity patterns that it does when processing language.”

"In this exciting age of the brain, where we know more about our brains than ever before, being able to link basic experiences like speaking and understanding language directly to brain function is especially important. Linking our brains to our behaviors holds the key to understanding not only what it means to be human, but also to understanding how the (arguably) most complex computing device in the universe, the human brain, gives rise to our daily experiences. Such knowledge may also lead to biologically inspired advances in human-like artificial intelligence and computation."

Comment: A computer simulation that actually mimics the actual brain wave patterns, suggests this result is a true representation of how brain plasticity has adapted to handle language grammar. In describing the brain as 'arguably' the most complex, the article fudges on accepting that the brain is obviously the most complex result of evolution.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Monday, November 19, 2018, 10:07 (152 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "In this exciting age of the brain, where we know more about our brains than ever before, being able to link basic experiences like speaking and understanding language directly to brain function is especially important. Linking our brains to our behaviors holds the key to understanding not only what it means to be human, but also to understanding how the (arguably) most complex computing device in the universe, the human brain, gives rise to our daily experiences."

DAVID’s comment: A computer simulation that actually mimics the actual brain wave patterns, suggests this result is a true representation of how brain plasticity has adapted to handle language grammar. In describing the brain as 'arguably' the most complex, the article fudges on accepting that the brain is obviously the most complex result of evolution.

Perhaps more to the point in the context of so many of our discussions, it fudges on the origin of the consciousness that determines what use we make of language. It states explicitly that the brain gives rise to our daily experiences. I think most dualists would argue that our daily experiences are the result of the interaction between brain and soul. (I remain neutral on the subject.)

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Monday, November 19, 2018, 15:08 (152 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "In this exciting age of the brain, where we know more about our brains than ever before, being able to link basic experiences like speaking and understanding language directly to brain function is especially important. Linking our brains to our behaviors holds the key to understanding not only what it means to be human, but also to understanding how the (arguably) most complex computing device in the universe, the human brain, gives rise to our daily experiences."

DAVID’s comment: A computer simulation that actually mimics the actual brain wave patterns, suggests this result is a true representation of how brain plasticity has adapted to handle language grammar. In describing the brain as 'arguably' the most complex, the article fudges on accepting that the brain is obviously the most complex result of evolution.

dhw: Perhaps more to the point in the context of so many of our discussions, it fudges on the origin of the consciousness that determines what use we make of language. It states explicitly that the brain gives rise to our daily experiences. I think most dualists would argue that our daily experiences are the result of the interaction between brain and soul. (I remain neutral on the subject.)

The article has obvious limitations, since it is a reductionist study of how the brain has modified to handle language and speech.

Human evolution; stone tools very early in Asia

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 20, 2018, 18:49 (150 days ago) @ David Turell

A type of advanced stone tool is now found in Asia and dated to as much as 130-180,000 years ago:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181119160256.htm

"A study by an international team of researchers, including from the University of Washington, determines that carved stone tools, also known as Levallois cores, were used in Asia 80,000 to 170,000 years ago. Developed in Africa and Western Europe as far back as 300,000 years ago, the cores are a sign of more-advanced toolmaking -- the "multi-tool" of the prehistoric world -- but, until now, were not believed to have emerged in East Asia until 30,000 to 40,000 years ago.

"With the find -- and absent human fossils linking the tools to migrating populations -- researchers believe people in Asia developed the technology independently, evidence of similar sets of skills evolving throughout different parts of the ancient world.

***

"Levallois-shaped cores -- the "Swiss Army knife of prehistoric tools," Marwick said -- were efficient and durable, indispensable to a hunter-gatherer society in which a broken spear point could mean certain death at the claws or jaws of a predator. The cores were named for the Levallois-Perret suburb of Paris, where stone flakes were found in the 1800s.

***

"The researchers analyzed more than 2,200 artifacts found at Guanyindong Cave, narrowing down the number of Levallois-style stone cores and flakes to 45. Among those believed to be in the older age range, about 130,000 to 180,000 years old, the team also was able to identify the environment in which the tools were used: an open woodland on a rocky landscape, in "a reduced rainforest area compared to today," the authors note.

"In Africa and Europe these kinds of stone tools are often found at archaeological sites starting from 300,000 and 200,000 years ago. They are known as Mode III technology, part of a broad evolutionary sequence that was preceded by hand-axe technology (Mode II) and followed by blade tool technology (Mode IV). Archaeologists thought that Mode IV technologies arrived in China by migration from the West, but these new finds suggest they could have been locally invented. At the time people were making tools in Guanyindong Cave, the Denisovans -- ancestors to Homo sapiens and relative contemporaries to Neandertals elsewhere in the world -- roamed East Asia. But while hundreds of fossils of archaic humans and related artifacts, dating as far back as more than 3 million years ago, have been found in Africa and Europe, the archaeological record in East Asia is sparser.

***

"In the evolution of tools, Levallois cores represent something of a middle stage. Subsequent manufacturing processes yielded more-refined blades made of rocks and minerals that were more resistant to flaking, and composites that, for example, combined a spear point with blades along the edge. The appearance of blades later in time indicates a further increase in the complexity and the number of steps required to make the tools.

"'The appearance of the Levallois strategy represents a big increase in the complexity of technology because there are so many steps that have to work in order to get the final product, compared to previous technologies," Marwick said."

Comment: It looks as if advanced H. sapiens were more widespread over the world than just Africa and then Europe.

Human evolution; exercise helps the brain

by David Turell @, Friday, November 23, 2018, 21:03 (147 days ago) @ David Turell

We are still hunter-gatherers who evolved bodies to be maintained by exercise activities:

https://www.the-scientist.com/features/this-is-your-brain-on-exercise-64934

"Researchers have long recognized that exercise sharpens certain cognitive skills. Indeed, Maejima and his colleagues have found that regular physical activity improves mice’s ability to distinguish new objects from ones they’ve seen before. Over the past 20 years, researchers have begun to get at the root of these benefits, with studies pointing to increases in the volume of the hippocampus, development of new neurons, and infiltration of blood vessels into the brain. Now, Maejima and others are starting to home in on the epigenetic mechanisms that drive the neurological changes brought on by physical activity.

***

" Moses Chao, a molecular neurobiologist at the New York University School of Medicine, and colleagues recently found that mice that ran frequently on wheels had higher levels of BDNF and of a ketone that’s a byproduct of fat metabolism released from the liver. Injecting the ketone into the brains of mice that did not run helped to inhibit histone deacetylases and increased Bdnf expression in the hippocampus. The finding shows how molecules can travel through the blood, cross the blood-brain barrier, and activate or inhibit epigenetic markers in the brain.

***

"The result also offers support for the 58 clinical trials currently being done on exercise, cognition, and Alzheimer’s disease. There are nearly 100 ongoing trials, including Petzinger’s, investigating exercise’s role in easing Parkinson’s symptoms, and hundreds more looking at exercise as an intervention against depression. Some researchers are even testing the effects of exercise on aging.

“'An active lifestyle is not going to turn a 70-year-old brain into a 30-year-old brain,” says Petzinger. “But studying exercise’s effect on the nervous system could help researchers identify the best and most efficient strategy—whether it’s activity alone or activity paired with drugs—to maintain brain health as we age.'”

Comment: And the same thought applies to muscle health, since we are now not hunter-gatherers:

https://www.the-scientist.com/features/how-muscles-age--and-how-exercise-can-slow-it-64708

"In 1988, Tufts University’s Irwin Rosenberg coined the term “sarcopenia” from Greek roots to describe this age-related lack (penia) of flesh (sarx). Muscle aging likely has several underlying factors, including decreased numbers of muscle stem cells, mitochondrial dysfunction, a decline in protein quality and turnover, and hormonal deregulation. Loss of muscle mass is associated with—and possibly preceded by—muscle weakness, which can make carrying out daily activities, such as climbing stairs or even getting up from a chair, difficult for many seniors. This can lead to inactivity, which itself leads to muscle loss at any age. Thus, older people can enter a vicious cycle that will eventually lead to an increased risk of falls, a loss of independence, and even premature death.

"The good news is that exercise can stave off and even reverse muscle loss and weakness. Recent research has demonstrated that physical activity can promote mitochondrial health, increase protein turnover, and restore levels of signaling molecules involved in muscle function. But while scientists know a lot about what goes wrong in aging, and know that exercise can slow the inevitable, the details of this relationship are just starting to come into focus.

***

"Although the causes of muscle loss are numerous and complex, there is now copious evidence to suggest that exercise may prevent or reverse many of these age-related changes, whereas inactivity will accelerate muscle aging. Earlier this year, for example, Janet Lord of the University of Birmingham and Steven Harridge at King’s College London examined the muscles of 125 male and female amateur cyclists and showed that a lifetime of regular exercise can slow down muscle aging: there were no losses in muscle mass or muscle strength among those who were older and exercised regularly. More surprisingly, the immune system had not aged much either.

"Exercise’s influence on muscle health likely acts through as many mechanisms as those underlying age-related muscle loss and weakness. For example, the number of satellite cells can be increased by exercise, and active elderly people have more of these cells than more-sedentary individuals do. This is the reason why exercise prior to hip and knee surgery can speed up recovery in the elderly.

"Physical activity also affects the muscle’s mitochondria. A lack of exercise decreases the efficiency and number of mitochondria in skeletal muscle, while exercise promotes mitochondrial health.

***

"For now, regular exercise combined with good nutrition is still the most effective way to fight sarcopenia, and possibly aging overall."

Comment: The articles are filled with biochemical studies, if interested.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Sunday, November 25, 2018, 19:18 (145 days ago) @ David Turell

Recognizing speech starts in the womb. We are obviously programmed for language:

http://maxplanck.nautil.us/article/342/from-a-babys-cry-to-goethes-faust?utm_source=Nau...


"Speech is generally believed to start with our very first cry at the moment we enter the world. In fact, however, it begins much earlier. We can already understand individual sounds in the womb. From then on, it would appear that speech develops paradoxically in the course of life: We reach many milestones at a blazing pace in the first three years of life, while other language skills do not develop fully until adulthood. For the first time, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have described the exact nature of this path in a comprehensive model. The model is based on an innovative method that sheds light on how a 3-year-old’s brain processes speech.

"It might appear paradoxical: On the one hand, even newborn babies are able to distinguish acoustically between individual syllables such as “ma” and “pa,” and 3-year-olds can already understand simple sentences effortlessly. On the other hand, the ability to understand complicated formulations without difficulty, even if they consist of simple words, only develops in adulthood.

***

“'The regions of the brain responsible for processing speech and the connection between them, a kind of data highway, mature at different rates,” as Angela D. Friederici, director of the Leipzig-based Max Planck Institute, explains.

***

"According to the model, a specific region of the cerebrum is involved in speech processing from the outset. Known as the left temporal lobe of the cerebrum, it enables us to differentiate “mama” from “papa” automatically in the space of just a few thousandths of a second. It can already process simple sentences consisting of a few words. Until around the age of 3, the temporal lobe is therefore the epicenter of speech.

"Only then is it gradually joined by a second central speech region, which forms part of the overall speech network, namely Broca’s area, which is located in the frontal region of the cerebrum. It is here that complex linguistic information is processed.

***

"With increasing age, Broca’s area is not only more strongly activated during speech processing, but also becomes more closely integrated in the overall speech network. This ability crucially depends on a bundle of nerve fibers known as the arcuate fasciculus, which forms a connection between these two speech centers, the left temporal lobe and Broca’s area. Only when this bundle of nerve fibers is mature are we able to process complicated sentences as quickly and efficiently as simple sentences. That does not happen until roughly toward the end of puberty.

***

"The findings were obtained thanks to an innovative method that was elaborated at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig. “For a long time, our knowledge of how the brain develops the ability to process complex language was sketchy. It seemed impossible to look into the brains of young children while they are processing speech,” she explains. It was thought that the usual technique of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is unsuitable for young children—especially because they find it difficult to hold their head still during the procedure.

"Friederici and her team succeeded in refining MRI measurements to the extent that it is now possible to peer into the brains of 3-year-olds. The key idea behind their method was to combine business with pleasure. They practiced keeping still with children as a game while the children watched an animated film. “This method paved the way for our current understanding of the development of our speech network,” she adds."

Comment: We come into this world ready to learn how to understand language. Of course I think designed that way .

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Monday, November 26, 2018, 11:44 (145 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTES: “'The regions of the brain responsible for processing speech and the connection between them, a kind of data highway, mature at different rates,” as Angela D. Friederici, director of the Leipzig-based Max Planck Institute, explains.
***
"According to the model, a specific region of the cerebrum is involved in speech processing from the outset. Known as the left temporal lobe of the cerebrum, it enables us to differentiate “mama” from “papa” automatically in the space of just a few thousandths of a second. It can already process simple sentences consisting of a few words. Until around the age of 3, the temporal lobe is therefore the epicenter of speech.
"Only then is it gradually joined by a second central speech region, which forms part of the overall speech network, namely Broca’s area, which is located in the frontal region of the cerebrum. It is here that complex linguistic information is processed.

I can only go on thanking you for the astonishing range of articles you keep presenting to us, bringing us up to date with the latest findings in so many areas of our discussions.

This article makes me wonder if the current individual evolution of the brain does not mirror its historical evolution. Leaving aside the great divide between dualism and materialism, we have concepts requiring expression and the brain developing as the range of concepts expands. Currently these concepts are learned, but each one originally had to be invented. The implementation of each invention historically would have required new neurons and new connections, and now individually the learning does the same. Similarly, the embryo itself starts out as a throwback to our animal ancestry and then “evolves” into our current human form. (In passing, this can also be seen as a clear pointer to common descent.)

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Monday, November 26, 2018, 19:05 (144 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTES: “'The regions of the brain responsible for processing speech and the connection between them, a kind of data highway, mature at different rates,” as Angela D. Friederici, director of the Leipzig-based Max Planck Institute, explains.
***
"According to the model, a specific region of the cerebrum is involved in speech processing from the outset. Known as the left temporal lobe of the cerebrum, it enables us to differentiate “mama” from “papa” automatically in the space of just a few thousandths of a second. It can already process simple sentences consisting of a few words. Until around the age of 3, the temporal lobe is therefore the epicenter of speech.
"Only then is it gradually joined by a second central speech region, which forms part of the overall speech network, namely Broca’s area, which is located in the frontal region of the cerebrum. It is here that complex linguistic information is processed.

dhw: I can only go on thanking you for the astonishing range of articles you keep presenting to us, bringing us up to date with the latest findings in so many areas of our discussions.

This article makes me wonder if the current individual evolution of the brain does not mirror its historical evolution. Leaving aside the great divide between dualism and materialism, we have concepts requiring expression and the brain developing as the range of concepts expands. Currently these concepts are learned, but each one originally had to be invented. The implementation of each invention historically would have required new neurons and new connections, and now individually the learning does the same. Similarly, the embryo itself starts out as a throwback to our animal ancestry and then “evolves” into our current human form. (In passing, this can also be seen as a clear pointer to common descent.)

The brain is designed to provide these necessary areas to take over the jobs required by language: speech, writing, reading, typing, etc. The chimp does none of this, but has comparative areas they never put use, because they cannot. Our brain advances are not explained by chance evolution. We are obviously designed.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 15:33 (144 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: This article makes me wonder if the current individual evolution of the brain does not mirror its historical evolution. Leaving aside the great divide between dualism and materialism, we have concepts requiring expression and the brain developing as the range of concepts expands. Currently these concepts are learned, but each one originally had to be invented. The implementation of each invention historically would have required new neurons and new connections, and now individually the learning does the same. Similarly, the embryo itself starts out as a throwback to our animal ancestry and then “evolves” into our current human form. (In passing, this can also be seen as a clear pointer to common descent.)

DAVID: The brain is designed to provide these necessary areas to take over the jobs required by language: speech, writing, reading, typing, etc. The chimp does none of this, but has comparative areas they never put use, because they cannot. Our brain advances are not explained by chance evolution. We are obviously designed.

My post has nothing to do with chance versus design. I am pointing out the parallel between the development of the current individual brain and the historical development of the brain from pre-sapiens to sapiens. In each case the implementation of new concepts is what changes the structure. This can actually be observed today, and there is no reason to suppose that the same process did not take place in pre-humans.
My “in passing” comment could be added to the discussion under “Innovation, Speciation”.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 17:21 (143 days ago) @ dhw

Dhw: This article makes me wonder if the current individual evolution of the brain does not mirror its historical evolution. Leaving aside the great divide between dualism and materialism, we have concepts requiring expression and the brain developing as the range of concepts expands. Currently these concepts are learned, but each one originally had to be invented. The implementation of each invention historically would have required new neurons and new connections, and now individually the learning does the same. Similarly, the embryo itself starts out as a throwback to our animal ancestry and then “evolves” into our current human form. (In passing, this can also be seen as a clear pointer to common descent.)

DAVID: The brain is designed to provide these necessary areas to take over the jobs required by language: speech, writing, reading, typing, etc. The chimp does none of this, but has comparative areas they never put use, because they cannot. Our brain advances are not explained by chance evolution. We are obviously designed.

dhw: My post has nothing to do with chance versus design. I am pointing out the parallel between the development of the current individual brain and the historical development of the brain from pre-sapiens to sapiens. In each case the implementation of new concepts is what changes the structure. This can actually be observed today, and there is no reason to suppose that the same process did not take place in pre-humans.

What can a new concept to act upon or do if the newly needed structure is not in place? Cart before horse.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Wednesday, November 28, 2018, 11:55 (143 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: This article makes me wonder if the current individual evolution of the brain does not mirror its historical evolution. Leaving aside the great divide between dualism and materialism, we have concepts requiring expression and the brain developing as the range of concepts expands. Currently these concepts are learned, but each one originally had to be invented. The implementation of each invention historically would have required new neurons and new connections, and now individually the learning does the same. Similarly, the embryo itself starts out as a throwback to our animal ancestry and then “evolves” into our current human form. (In passing, this can also be seen as a clear pointer to common descent.)

DAVID: The brain is designed to provide these necessary areas to take over the jobs required by language: speech, writing, reading, typing, etc. The chimp does none of this, but has comparative areas they never put use, because they cannot. Our brain advances are not explained by chance evolution. We are obviously designed.

dhw: My post has nothing to do with chance versus design. I am pointing out the parallel between the development of the current individual brain and the historical development of the brain from pre-sapiens to sapiens. In each case the implementation of new concepts is what changes the structure. This can actually be observed today, and there is no reason to suppose that the same process did not take place in pre-humans.

DAVID: What can a new concept to act upon or do if the newly needed structure is not in place? Cart before horse.

It is implementation of concepts new to the individual that creates new neurons and new connections as the person learns. I thought you had accepted this, as it was clearly illustrated by the examples of the Indian women, taxi drivers, musicians. We do not know where the original concepts come from, but I am not trying to restart the discussion on materialism versus dualism, and should not have opened the door to that particular subject. My apologies. I am simply wondering (pure conjecture) whether the “evolution” of the individual’s brain as it adds and complexifies through childhood and into adulthood mirrors the evolution of the brain through history, with its additions and complexifications – just as the “evolution” of the individual embryo appears to relive (that might be a better term) at least part of the history of human evolution. It’s just a thought that struck me. Maybe the idea is too fanciful?

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Wednesday, November 28, 2018, 18:15 (142 days ago) @ dhw

Dhw: This article makes me wonder if the current individual evolution of the brain does not mirror its historical evolution. Leaving aside the great divide between dualism and materialism, we have concepts requiring expression and the brain developing as the range of concepts expands. Currently these concepts are learned, but each one originally had to be invented. The implementation of each invention historically would have required new neurons and new connections, and now individually the learning does the same. Similarly, the embryo itself starts out as a throwback to our animal ancestry and then “evolves” into our current human form. (In passing, this can also be seen as a clear pointer to common descent.)

DAVID: The brain is designed to provide these necessary areas to take over the jobs required by language: speech, writing, reading, typing, etc. The chimp does none of this, but has comparative areas they never put use, because they cannot. Our brain advances are not explained by chance evolution. We are obviously designed.

dhw: My post has nothing to do with chance versus design. I am pointing out the parallel between the development of the current individual brain and the historical development of the brain from pre-sapiens to sapiens. In each case the implementation of new concepts is what changes the structure. This can actually be observed today, and there is no reason to suppose that the same process did not take place in pre-humans.

DAVID: What can a new concept to act upon or do if the newly needed structure is not in place? Cart before horse.

dhw: It is implementation of concepts new to the individual that creates new neurons and new connections as the person learns. I thought you had accepted this, as it was clearly illustrated by the examples of the Indian women, taxi drivers, musicians. We do not know where the original concepts come from, but I am not trying to restart the discussion on materialism versus dualism, and should not have opened the door to that particular subject. My apologies. I am simply wondering (pure conjecture) whether the “evolution” of the individual’s brain as it adds and complexifies through childhood and into adulthood mirrors the evolution of the brain through history, with its additions and complexifications – just as the “evolution” of the individual embryo appears to relive (that might be a better term) at least part of the history of human evolution. It’s just a thought that struck me. Maybe the idea is too fanciful?

You've jumped to minor plasticity in newly literate Indian women using a very complex brain they were given and plastically changed a little. Speech requires the complexity of the human brain starting 300,000 years ago. The eventually completed complex brain takes until 25 years old and may in part (I agree with you) mimic evolution of it.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Thursday, November 29, 2018, 10:08 (142 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: What can a new concept to act upon or do if the newly needed structure is not in place? Cart before horse.

dhw: It is implementation of concepts new to the individual that creates new neurons and new connections as the person learns. I thought you had accepted this, as it was clearly illustrated by the examples of the Indian women, taxi drivers, musicians. We do not know where the original concepts come from, but I am not trying to restart the discussion on materialism versus dualism, and should not have opened the door to that particular subject. My apologies. I am simply wondering (pure conjecture) whether the “evolution” of the individual’s brain as it adds and complexifies through childhood and into adulthood mirrors the evolution of the brain through history, with its additions and complexifications – just as the “evolution” of the individual embryo appears to relive (that might be a better term) at least part of the history of human evolution. It’s just a thought that struck me. Maybe the idea is too fanciful?

DAVID: You've jumped to minor plasticity in newly literate Indian women using a very complex brain they were given and plastically changed a little. Speech requires the complexity of the human brain starting 300,000 years ago. The eventually completed complex brain takes until 25 years old and may in part (I agree with you) mimic evolution of it.

No one would doubt that speech requires greater complexity than non-speech, but we needn’t go over all that again. Thank you for your agreement that individual evolution may mirror/relive/mimic historical evolution. This ties in with a vague concept I have of microcosms mirroring macrocosms, but this would be a colossal field that you are certainly better equipped to explore than I am.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Thursday, November 29, 2018, 15:23 (142 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: What can a new concept to act upon or do if the newly needed structure is not in place? Cart before horse.

dhw: It is implementation of concepts new to the individual that creates new neurons and new connections as the person learns. I thought you had accepted this, as it was clearly illustrated by the examples of the Indian women, taxi drivers, musicians. We do not know where the original concepts come from, but I am not trying to restart the discussion on materialism versus dualism, and should not have opened the door to that particular subject. My apologies. I am simply wondering (pure conjecture) whether the “evolution” of the individual’s brain as it adds and complexifies through childhood and into adulthood mirrors the evolution of the brain through history, with its additions and complexifications – just as the “evolution” of the individual embryo appears to relive (that might be a better term) at least part of the history of human evolution. It’s just a thought that struck me. Maybe the idea is too fanciful?

DAVID: You've jumped to minor plasticity in newly literate Indian women using a very complex brain they were given and plastically changed a little. Speech requires the complexity of the human brain starting 300,000 years ago. The eventually completed complex brain takes until 25 years old and may in part (I agree with you) mimic evolution of it.

dhw: No one would doubt that speech requires greater complexity than non-speech, but we needn’t go over all that again. Thank you for your agreement that individual evolution may mirror/relive/mimic historical evolution. This ties in with a vague concept I have of microcosms mirroring macrocosms, but this would be a colossal field that you are certainly better equipped to explore than I am.

It is certainly true that a bacterium in its membrane lives and does many of the same things our bodies with its trillions of different cells does. Simple yeast cells teach us much about how cells work. 'Nough said.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Friday, November 30, 2018, 13:29 (141 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: Thank you for your agreement that individual evolution may mirror/relive/mimic historical evolution. This ties in with a vague concept I have of microcosms mirroring macrocosms, but this would be a colossal field that you are certainly better equipped to explore than I am.

DAVID: It is certainly true that a bacterium in its membrane lives and does many of the same things our bodies with its trillions of different cells does. Simple yeast cells teach us much about how cells work. 'Nough said.

Thank you. An excellent example. It’s a theme I would love to develop, ranging from microorganisms to the universe itself and, of course, a possible God. But it is too vast for me to embark on.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Friday, November 30, 2018, 15:41 (140 days ago) @ dhw

Dhw: Thank you for your agreement that individual evolution may mirror/relive/mimic historical evolution. This ties in with a vague concept I have of microcosms mirroring macrocosms, but this would be a colossal field that you are certainly better equipped to explore than I am.

DAVID: It is certainly true that a bacterium in its membrane lives and does many of the same things our bodies with its trillions of different cells does. Simple yeast cells teach us much about how cells work. 'Nough said.

dhw: Thank you. An excellent example. It’s a theme I would love to develop, ranging from microorganisms to the universe itself and, of course, a possible God. But it is too vast for me to embark on.

The universe started with a Big Bang. Are the first living cells a 'big bang' start for life?

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Saturday, December 01, 2018, 14:05 (140 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: Thank you for your agreement that individual evolution may mirror/relive/mimic historical evolution. This ties in with a vague concept I have of microcosms mirroring macrocosms, but this would be a colossal field that you are certainly better equipped to explore than I am.

DAVID: It is certainly true that a bacterium in its membrane lives and does many of the same things our bodies with its trillions of different cells does. Simple yeast cells teach us much about how cells work. 'Nough said.

dhw: Thank you. An excellent example. It’s a theme I would love to develop, ranging from microorganisms to the universe itself and, of course, a possible God. But it is too vast for me to embark on.

DAVID: The universe started with a Big Bang. Are the first living cells a 'big bang' start for life?

I’m not sure if the universe started with a Big Bang, but it’s nice that you’re also looking for parallels.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 01, 2018, 18:19 (139 days ago) @ dhw

Dhw: Thank you for your agreement that individual evolution may mirror/relive/mimic historical evolution. This ties in with a vague concept I have of microcosms mirroring macrocosms, but this would be a colossal field that you are certainly better equipped to explore than I am.

DAVID: It is certainly true that a bacterium in its membrane lives and does many of the same things our bodies with its trillions of different cells does. Simple yeast cells teach us much about how cells work. 'Nough said.

dhw: Thank you. An excellent example. It’s a theme I would love to develop, ranging from microorganisms to the universe itself and, of course, a possible God. But it is too vast for me to embark on.

DAVID: The universe started with a Big Bang. Are the first living cells a 'big bang' start for life?

dhw: I’m not sure if the universe started with a Big Bang, but it’s nice that you’re also looking for parallels.

At least we are looking at two of the most major starts of all starts. Can you think of a third?

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Sunday, December 02, 2018, 12:51 (139 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: Thank you for your agreement that individual evolution may mirror/relive/mimic historical evolution. This ties in with a vague concept I have of microcosms mirroring macrocosms, but this would be a colossal field that you are certainly better equipped to explore than I am.

DAVID: It is certainly true that a bacterium in its membrane lives and does many of the same things our bodies with its trillions of different cells does. Simple yeast cells teach us much about how cells work. 'Nough said.

dhw: Thank you. An excellent example. It’s a theme I would love to develop, ranging from microorganisms to the universe itself and, of course, a possible God. But it is too vast for me to embark on.

DAVID: The universe started with a Big Bang. Are the first living cells a 'big bang' start for life?

dhw: I’m not sure if the universe started with a Big Bang, but it’s nice that you’re also looking for parallels.

DAVID: At least we are looking at two of the most major starts of all starts. Can you think of a third?

The start of our solar system and Planet Earth was pretty major for you and me, but an eternal and infinite universe could have had an infinite number of major starts.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 02, 2018, 15:16 (139 days ago) @ dhw

Dhw: Thank you for your agreement that individual evolution may mirror/relive/mimic historical evolution. This ties in with a vague concept I have of microcosms mirroring macrocosms, but this would be a colossal field that you are certainly better equipped to explore than I am.

DAVID: It is certainly true that a bacterium in its membrane lives and does many of the same things our bodies with its trillions of different cells does. Simple yeast cells teach us much about how cells work. 'Nough said.

dhw: Thank you. An excellent example. It’s a theme I would love to develop, ranging from microorganisms to the universe itself and, of course, a possible God. But it is too vast for me to embark on.

DAVID: The universe started with a Big Bang. Are the first living cells a 'big bang' start for life?

dhw: I’m not sure if the universe started with a Big Bang, but it’s nice that you’re also looking for parallels.

DAVID: At least we are looking at two of the most major starts of all starts. Can you think of a third?

dhw: The start of our solar system and Planet Earth was pretty major for you and me, but an eternal and infinite universe could have had an infinite number of major starts.

Up to this point we were talking about possibilities with significant evidence. The eternal and infinite universe is pure hypothesis and without a smidgen of evidence.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Monday, December 03, 2018, 14:02 (138 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The universe started with a Big Bang. Are the first living cells a 'big bang' start for life?

dhw: I’m not sure if the universe started with a Big Bang, but it’s nice that you’re also looking for parallels.

DAVID: At least we are looking at two of the most major starts of all starts. Can you think of a third?

dhw: The start of our solar system and Planet Earth was pretty major for you and me, but an eternal and infinite universe could have had an infinite number of major starts.

DAVID: Up to this point we were talking about possibilities with significant evidence. The eternal and infinite universe is pure hypothesis and without a smidgen of evidence.

Fair comment. I should have stuck to our solar system and planet. Apologies for taking us off onto a different track. An interesting one, though. One has to ask: what was there before the Big Bang, if it ever happened? Nothing at all is also pure hypothesis, as is an eternal mind without a beginning. There is no way we shall ever know, unless your pure hypothesis is correct and your God reveals himself!

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Monday, December 03, 2018, 16:55 (137 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: The universe started with a Big Bang. Are the first living cells a 'big bang' start for life?

dhw: I’m not sure if the universe started with a Big Bang, but it’s nice that you’re also looking for parallels.

DAVID: At least we are looking at two of the most major starts of all starts. Can you think of a third?

dhw: The start of our solar system and Planet Earth was pretty major for you and me, but an eternal and infinite universe could have had an infinite number of major starts.

DAVID: Up to this point we were talking about possibilities with significant evidence. The eternal and infinite universe is pure hypothesis and without a smidgen of evidence.

dhw: Fair comment. I should have stuck to our solar system and planet. Apologies for taking us off onto a different track. An interesting one, though. One has to ask: what was there before the Big Bang, if it ever happened? Nothing at all is also pure hypothesis, as is an eternal mind without a beginning. There is no way we shall ever know, unless your pure hypothesis is correct and your God reveals himself!

According to Guth and his cohorts there is no 'before' before the Big Bang, proven mathematically in a paper presented in 2002 at Hawkings 60th birthday party/ symposium, my book, page 63. Put simply, time starts with the BB. Just as life starts with the first functional living cell. Both starts are followed by an evolutionary process which are too complex to be the result of chance. If there is a cause for each event, it is simpler to attribute them to one source than to conjure up two causes for two such pivotal creations.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Tuesday, December 04, 2018, 14:14 (137 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: The start of our solar system and Planet Earth was pretty major for you and me, but an eternal and infinite universe could have had an infinite number of major starts.

DAVID: Up to this point we were talking about possibilities with significant evidence. The eternal and infinite universe is pure hypothesis and without a smidgen of evidence.

dhw: Fair comment. I should have stuck to our solar system and planet. Apologies for taking us off onto a different track. An interesting one, though. One has to ask: what was there before the Big Bang, if it ever happened? Nothing at all is also pure hypothesis, as is an eternal mind without a beginning. There is no way we shall ever know, unless your pure hypothesis is correct and your God reveals himself!

DAVID: According to Guth and his cohorts there is no 'before' before the Big Bang, proven mathematically in a paper presented in 2002 at Hawkings 60th birthday party/ symposium, my book, page 63. Put simply, time starts with the BB. Just as life starts with the first functional living cell. Both starts are followed by an evolutionary process which are too complex to be the result of chance. If there is a cause for each event, it is simpler to attribute them to one source than to conjure up two causes for two such pivotal creations.

A strange volte face. According to you, your God caused the BB, and so he existed before the BB. Before, now and after are one concept of time. Nobody can possibly prove anything about what happened before the BB (if it happened). I agree that one cause is simpler than two causes. The one cause may be an eternal and infinite universe of energy and matter constantly changing itself. No, I don’t believe it, and I don’t disbelieve it, just as I don’t believe or disbelieve in a single, conscious, sourceless, eternal mind. Maybe the complex evolutionary process was created (top down), or maybe it evolved (bottom up).

Human evolution; hominins late in Arabia

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 04, 2018, 18:01 (136 days ago) @ dhw

New stone tool findings:

https://www.livescience.com/64203-ancient-hominins-saudi-arabia.html?utm_source=lsa-new...

"Ancient human relatives lived on the Arabian Peninsula for an astonishingly long time — from about 240,000 to 190,000 years ago — and spread into the heart of the region by following its blue rivers and lakes, a new study found.

"These early human relatives persisted for so long that they could have run into some modern humans, or Homo sapiens, along the way, the researchers said in the study,

***

"'Early hominins had small brains and made crude tools," Scerri told Live Science. "However, later hominins had bigger brains and were more sophisticated. Instead of crudely banging rocks together to produce sharp-edged stone flakes, they created beautiful, symmetrical artifacts called hand axes."

"Large, expertly shaped cutting tools (such as hand axes) made by hominins are known as Acheulean tools. These instruments — called the "the Swiss army knife of prehistory" — date to 1.5 million years ago; they come from the longest-lasting tool-making tradition in prehistory, Scerri said. Because it's rare to find hominin bones, Acheulean tools are a great stand-in for hominins when trying to figure out when and where they lived, the researchers said.

"It's unclear which hominins made the hand axes in Saudi Arabia. "However, hominins that have been found with Acheulean tools include Homo erectus, who was probably a direct ancestor of humans," Scerri said.

***

"The dating revealed that hominins lived in Saffaqah as recently as 188,000 years ago, making it the youngest Acheulean site in southwest Asia, the researchers found. This finding is remarkable, because it shows that the Arabian Acheulean ended just before or at the same time as the earliest H. sapiens made it to the region, the researchers said.

"The international team used luminescence dating to determine the age of the tools. This method measures how much light is emitted from energy stored in certain types of rock and soils, as certain minerals store energy from the sun at a known rate, Scerri said.

"When these minerals are buried, they can no longer store this energy," she said. "By heating the minerals, the stored energy becomes emptied, and the amount of energy that is emptied gives a measure of a point in time when that mineral was last exposed to daylight."

"The research also revealed that these hominins spread throughout Saudi Arabia's landscape via its blue waterways. Although Arabia is a vast desert today, it was greener during several brief periods in the past.

"'The hominins making the Acheulean tools at Saffaqah seemed to have made their way into the heart of Arabia when these now-dry river networks and channels were active," Scerri said.

"But Saudi Arabia was turning dry again by about 188,000 years ago, she said. So, it's likely that "the hominins responsible for these stone tools were quite resilient in the face of environmental challenges," she said. "Although the site of Saffaqah was not a desert when these Acheulean hominins were there, it was probably still quite an arid environment.'"

Comment: Disappearance of a hominin type is not like turning off a light bulb. They die off slowly. That H. sapiens and H. erectus lived side by side suggests sapiens appeared with no intermediate forms. H. sapiens by direct creation is possible.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 04, 2018, 18:09 (136 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: The start of our solar system and Planet Earth was pretty major for you and me, but an eternal and infinite universe could have had an infinite number of major starts.

DAVID: Up to this point we were talking about possibilities with significant evidence. The eternal and infinite universe is pure hypothesis and without a smidgen of evidence.

dhw: Fair comment. I should have stuck to our solar system and planet. Apologies for taking us off onto a different track. An interesting one, though. One has to ask: what was there before the Big Bang, if it ever happened? Nothing at all is also pure hypothesis, as is an eternal mind without a beginning. There is no way we shall ever know, unless your pure hypothesis is correct and your God reveals himself!

DAVID: According to Guth and his cohorts there is no 'before' before the Big Bang, proven mathematically in a paper presented in 2002 at Hawkings 60th birthday party/ symposium, my book, page 63. Put simply, time starts with the BB. Just as life starts with the first functional living cell. Both starts are followed by an evolutionary process which are too complex to be the result of chance. If there is a cause for each event, it is simpler to attribute them to one source than to conjure up two causes for two such pivotal creations.

dhw: A strange volte face. According to you, your God caused the BB, and so he existed before the BB. Before, now and after are one concept of time. Nobody can possibly prove anything about what happened before the BB (if it happened). I agree that one cause is simpler than two causes. The one cause may be an eternal and infinite universe of energy and matter constantly changing itself. No, I don’t believe it, and I don’t disbelieve it, just as I don’t believe or disbelieve in a single, conscious, sourceless, eternal mind. Maybe the complex evolutionary process was created (top down), or maybe it evolved (bottom up).

All I presented has appeared here before. If bottom up, from what, and what pushed it to evolve?

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Wednesday, December 05, 2018, 11:53 (136 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: According to Guth and his cohorts there is no 'before' before the Big Bang, proven mathematically in a paper presented in 2002 at Hawkings 60th birthday party/ symposium, my book, page 63. Put simply, time starts with the BB. Just as life starts with the first functional living cell. Both starts are followed by an evolutionary process which are too complex to be the result of chance. If there is a cause for each event, it is simpler to attribute them to one source than to conjure up two causes for two such pivotal creations.

dhw: A strange volte face. According to you, your God caused the BB, and so he existed before the BB. Before, now and after are one concept of time. Nobody can possibly prove anything about what happened before the BB (if it happened). I agree that one cause is simpler than two causes. The one cause may be an eternal and infinite universe of energy and matter constantly changing itself. No, I don’t believe it, and I don’t disbelieve it, just as I don’t believe or disbelieve in a single, conscious, sourceless, eternal mind. Maybe the complex evolutionary process was created (top down), or maybe it evolved (bottom up).

DAVID: All I presented has appeared here before. If bottom up, from what, and what pushed it to evolve?

Yes, we have discussed it many times. Bottom up from eternally changing combinations of materials. But I can't tell you how they might have acquired the basic consciosuness to form life, any more than you can tell me how a sourceless, universal, conscious mind can simply have been there for ever. Two first cause hypotheses that are as inexplicable as each other. Enough to make a thinker embrace agnosticism!

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 05, 2018, 20:22 (135 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: According to Guth and his cohorts there is no 'before' before the Big Bang, proven mathematically in a paper presented in 2002 at Hawkings 60th birthday party/ symposium, my book, page 63. Put simply, time starts with the BB. Just as life starts with the first functional living cell. Both starts are followed by an evolutionary process which are too complex to be the result of chance. If there is a cause for each event, it is simpler to attribute them to one source than to conjure up two causes for two such pivotal creations.

dhw: A strange volte face. According to you, your God caused the BB, and so he existed before the BB. Before, now and after are one concept of time. Nobody can possibly prove anything about what happened before the BB (if it happened). I agree that one cause is simpler than two causes. The one cause may be an eternal and infinite universe of energy and matter constantly changing itself. No, I don’t believe it, and I don’t disbelieve it, just as I don’t believe or disbelieve in a single, conscious, sourceless, eternal mind. Maybe the complex evolutionary process was created (top down), or maybe it evolved (bottom up).

DAVID: All I presented has appeared here before. If bottom up, from what, and what pushed it to evolve?

dhw: Yes, we have discussed it many times. Bottom up from eternally changing combinations of materials. But I can't tell you how they might have acquired the basic consciosuness to form life, any more than you can tell me how a sourceless, universal, conscious mind can simply have been there for ever. Two first cause hypotheses that are as inexplicable as each other. Enough to make a thinker embrace agnosticism!

Not if one tries to explain the complex designs in living forms.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Thursday, December 06, 2018, 13:25 (135 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: According to you, your God caused the BB, and so he existed before the BB. Before, now and after are one concept of time. Nobody can possibly prove anything about what happened before the BB (if it happened). I agree that one cause is simpler than two causes. The one cause may be an eternal and infinite universe of energy and matter constantly changing itself. No, I don’t believe it, and I don’t disbelieve it, just as I don’t believe or disbelieve in a single, conscious, sourceless, eternal mind. Maybe the complex evolutionary process was created (top down), or maybe it evolved (bottom up).

DAVID: All I presented has appeared here before. If bottom up, from what, and what pushed it to evolve?

dhw: Yes, we have discussed it many times. Bottom up from eternally changing combinations of materials. But I can't tell you how they might have acquired the basic consciousness to form life, any more than you can tell me how a sourceless, universal, conscious mind can simply have been there for ever. Two first cause hypotheses that are as inexplicable as each other. Enough to make a thinker embrace agnosticism!

DAVID: Not if one tries to explain the complex designs in living forms.

I accept that as a good reason for your faith – but you have always acknowledged that it requires faith and not reason to accept one mystery as the answer to another.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 06, 2018, 19:33 (134 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: According to you, your God caused the BB, and so he existed before the BB. Before, now and after are one concept of time. Nobody can possibly prove anything about what happened before the BB (if it happened). I agree that one cause is simpler than two causes. The one cause may be an eternal and infinite universe of energy and matter constantly changing itself. No, I don’t believe it, and I don’t disbelieve it, just as I don’t believe or disbelieve in a single, conscious, sourceless, eternal mind. Maybe the complex evolutionary process was created (top down), or maybe it evolved (bottom up).

DAVID: All I presented has appeared here before. If bottom up, from what, and what pushed it to evolve?

dhw: Yes, we have discussed it many times. Bottom up from eternally changing combinations of materials. But I can't tell you how they might have acquired the basic consciousness to form life, any more than you can tell me how a sourceless, universal, conscious mind can simply have been there for ever. Two first cause hypotheses that are as inexplicable as each other. Enough to make a thinker embrace agnosticism!

DAVID: Not if one tries to explain the complex designs in living forms.

dhw: I accept that as a good reason for your faith – but you have always acknowledged that it requires faith and not reason to accept one mystery as the answer to another.

Reasoning about the need for a designer is strong enough to lead to faith. In my mind there must be a designer. The complex living biology I see and understand with my medical training requires that conclusion. You and I have different backgrounds, which may explain our different positions.

Human evolution; another Australopithecus species? ignore

by David Turell @, Friday, December 07, 2018, 01:44 (134 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by David Turell, Friday, December 07, 2018, 01:55

Still under debate about it, but sure looks like it:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2187639-exclusive-controversial-skeleton-may-be-a-...

"More than twenty years after it was first discovered, an analysis of a remarkable skeleton discovered in South Africa has finally been published – and the specimen suggests we may need to add a new species to the family tree of early human ancestors.

"The analysis also found evidence that the species was evolving to become better at striding on two legs, helping us to understand when our lineage first became bipedal.

"The specimen, nicknamed “Little Foot”, is a type of Australopithecus, the group of hominins to which the famous fossil “Lucy” belonged. Lucy’s species is called A. afarensis, but we know of several other species of these human-like primates living in Africa around 2 million years ago, including A. africanus.

***
"The Little Foot fossil came to light in the 1990s. Ronald Clarke of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa was asked to go through a collection of bones from Sterkfontein Cave in South Africa. In 1994 he found that four foot bones, thought to belong to monkeys, actually resembled existing fossils belonging to the Australopithecus group.

"The foot bones were quite small, prompting Clarke’s now-deceased colleague Phillip Tobias to dub them “Little Foot”, in reference to the Bigfoot hominin that some believe roams North America.

"In 1997, Clarke and two colleagues found more of the skeleton encased in rock within the same cave. He began excavating it, a process that continued for over a decade. Because the fossilised bone flaked easily, Clarke chose to painstakingly remove the bones from the rock using only an air scribe – a tool that shoots out a thin jet of pressurised air.

***

"The result is a virtually complete skeleton that promises to tell us much about early human-like primates.

A flurry of initial studies, published at last, reveal that Little Foot was an elderly female, about 130 centimetres in height.

"According to a study led by Travis Pickering of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Little Foot had an arm injury. He suspects she fell onto an outstretched hand during her youth, and that the resulting injury troubled her throughout her life.

"Robin Crompton of the University of Liverpool, UK and his colleagues have analysed how she would have walked. He says it is the first fossil of this age ever to have been discovered with its limbs fully intact.

“'This hominin had longer lower limbs than upper limbs, like ourselves,” says Crompton. This is an interesting finding, as the slightly older hominin Ardipithecus, which came before Australopithecus, had longer arms than legs – more like great apes do. “That means it was being selected for stride length in bipedalism,” says Crompton.

"Little Foot would not have been as good at carrying objects as we are. However, she would have been better at climbing trees than modern humans.

"That would have suited her home: a mix of tropical rainforest, broken woodland and grassland, through which she roamed widely.

A further paper examines the deposits in which Little Foot was encased and concludes that the fossil is 3.67 million years old, more than a million years older than previously thought. (my bold)

"Clarke has argued for over a decade that Little Foot does not belong to any of the known Australopithecus species, and should be named a new species in its own right. He favours calling it A. prometheus.

"The name was coined in 1948 by Raymond Dart, to describe a piece of skull found at Makapansgat in South Africa. Dart is a key figure in anthropology, because in 1925 he described the first Australopithecus specimen, the Taung Child. He used the fossil to argue that humans evolved in Africa. At the time most biologists thought our origins lay in Asia, and Dart was ridiculed for years until other discoveries confirmed that he was right.

"Clarke is convinced that many of the bones from Sterkfontein, including Little Foot, are not A. africanus, so he has resurrected the name A. prometheus. “There are many, many differences, not only in the skull but also in the rest of the skeleton,” he says. They include a flatter face than A. africanus, and larger teeth with a big gap between the upper canines and incisors.

"There is also Little Foot’s diet. Based on her teeth, she ate almost nothing but plants. “A. africanus was more omnivorous,” says Clarke."

Comment: The main thrust here to recognize is that this lady is Lucy's age in fossil time, but she has longer arms than legs and Lucy is longer arms. What this means is a that there were several lines of hominin development going on at different places in Africa in the same periods of time. Places of discovery, to remind us, Lucy is Northeastern Africa and Little Foot is South Africa. It suggests God liked diversity in evolving humans, just as He created diversity in the huge bush of like. I suspect the reason for the diversity in life is econiches for food, while I suspect He already knew what H' sapiens would be like when evolution got to that point..

Human evolution; another Australopithecus species?

by David Turell @, Friday, December 07, 2018, 01:45 (134 days ago) @ David Turell

Still under debate about it, but sure looks like it:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2187639-exclusive-controversial-skeleton-may-be-a-...

More than twenty years after it was first discovered, an analysis of a remarkable skeleton discovered in South Africa has finally been published – and the specimen suggests we may need to add a new species to the family tree of early human ancestors.

"The analysis also found evidence that the species was evolving to become better at striding on two legs, helping us to understand when our lineage first became bipedal.

"The specimen, nicknamed “Little Foot”, is a type of Australopithecus, the group of hominins to which the famous fossil “Lucy” belonged. Lucy’s species is called A. afarensis, but we know of several other species of these human-like primates living in Africa around 2 million years ago, including A. africanus.

***
"The Little Foot fossil came to light in the 1990s. Ronald Clarke of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa was asked to go through a collection of bones from Sterkfontein Cave in South Africa. In 1994 he found that four foot bones, thought to belong to monkeys, actually resembled existing fossils belonging to the Australopithecus group.

"The foot bones were quite small, prompting Clarke’s now-deceased colleague Phillip Tobias to dub them “Little Foot”, in reference to the Bigfoot hominin that some believe roams North America.

"In 1997, Clarke and two colleagues found more of the skeleton encased in rock within the same cave. He began excavating it, a process that continued for over a decade. Because the fossilised bone flaked easily, Clarke chose to painstakingly remove the bones from the rock using only an air scribe – a tool that shoots out a thin jet of pressurised air.

***

"The result is a virtually complete skeleton that promises to tell us much about early human-like primates.

A flurry of initial studies, published at last, reveal that Little Foot was an elderly female, about 130 centimetres in height.

"According to a study led by Travis Pickering of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Little Foot had an arm injury. He suspects she fell onto an outstretched hand during her youth, and that the resulting injury troubled her throughout her life.

"Robin Crompton of the University of Liverpool, UK and his colleagues have analysed how she would have walked. He says it is the first fossil of this age ever to have been discovered with its limbs fully intact.

“'This hominin had longer lower limbs than upper limbs, like ourselves,” says Crompton. This is an interesting finding, as the slightly older hominin Ardipithecus, which came before Australopithecus, had longer arms than legs – more like great apes do. “That means it was being selected for stride length in bipedalism,” says Crompton.

"Little Foot would not have been as good at carrying objects as we are. However, she would have been better at climbing trees than modern humans.

"That would have suited her home: a mix of tropical rainforest, broken woodland and grassland, through which she roamed widely.

A further paper examines the deposits in which Little Foot was encased and concludes that the fossil is 3.67 million years old, more than a million years older than previously thought. (my bold)

"Clarke has argued for over a decade that Little Foot does not belong to any of the known Australopithecus species, and should be named a new species in its own right. He favours calling it A. prometheus.

"The name was coined in 1948 by Raymond Dart, to describe a piece of skull found at Makapansgat in South Africa. Dart is a key figure in anthropology, because in 1925 he described the first Australopithecus specimen, the Taung Child. He used the fossil to argue that humans evolved in Africa. At the time most biologists thought our origins lay in Asia, and Dart was ridiculed for years until other discoveries confirmed that he was right.

"Clarke is convinced that many of the bones from Sterkfontein, including Little Foot, are not A. africanus, so he has resurrected the name A. prometheus. “There are many, many differences, not only in the skull but also in the rest of the skeleton,” he says. They include a flatter face than A. africanus, and larger teeth with a big gap between the upper canines and incisors.

"There is also Little Foot’s diet. Based on her teeth, she ate almost nothing but plants. “A. africanus was more omnivorous,” says Clarke."

Comment: The main thrust here to recognize is that this lady is roughly Lucy's age in fossil time, but she has longer arms than legs and Lucy is longer arms. What this means is a that there were several lines of hominin development going on at different places in Africa in the same periods of time. Places of discovery, to remind us, Lucy is Northeastern Africa and Little Foot is South Africa. It suggests God liked diversity in evolving humans, just as He created diversity in the huge bush of like. I suspect the reason for the diversity in life is econiches for food, while I suspect He already knew what H' sapiens would be like when evolution got to that point..

Human evolution; another Australopithecus species?

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 04:57 (129 days ago) @ David Turell

“'This hominin had longer lower limbs than upper limbs, like ourselves,” says Crompton. This is an interesting finding, as the slightly older hominin Ardipithecus, which came before Australopithecus, had longer arms than legs – more like great apes do. “That means it was being selected for stride length in bipedalism,” says Crompton.

"Little Foot would not have been as good at carrying objects as we are. However, she would have been better at climbing trees than modern humans.

"That would have suited her home: a mix of tropical rainforest, broken woodland and grassland, through which she roamed widely.

A further paper examines the deposits in which Little Foot was encased and concludes that the fossil is 3.67 million years old, more than a million years older than previously thought. (my bold)

"Clarke has argued for over a decade that Little Foot does not belong to any of the known Australopithecus species, and should be named a new species in its own right. He favours calling it A. prometheus.

"The name was coined in 1948 by Raymond Dart, to describe a piece of skull found at Makapansgat in South Africa. Dart is a key figure in anthropology, because in 1925 he described the first Australopithecus specimen, the Taung Child. He used the fossil to argue that humans evolved in Africa. At the time most biologists thought our origins lay in Asia, and Dart was ridiculed for years until other discoveries confirmed that he was right.

"Clarke is convinced that many of the bones from Sterkfontein, including Little Foot, are not A. africanus, so he has resurrected the name A. prometheus. “There are many, many differences, not only in the skull but also in the rest of the skeleton,” he says. They include a flatter face than A. africanus, and larger teeth with a big gap between the upper canines and incisors.

"There is also Little Foot’s diet. Based on her teeth, she ate almost nothing but plants. “A. africanus was more omnivorous,” says Clarke."

Comment: The main thrust here to recognize is that this lady is roughly Lucy's age in fossil time, but she has longer arms than legs and Lucy is longer arms. What this means is a that there were several lines of hominin development going on at different places in Africa in the same periods of time. Places of discovery, to remind us, Lucy is Northeastern Africa and Little Foot is South Africa. It suggests God liked diversity in evolving humans, just as He created diversity in the huge bush of like. I suspect the reason for the diversity in life is econiches for food, while I suspect He already knew what H' sapiens would be like when evolution got to that point..

This comment is incorrect in that it reversed arm and leg length, which is clear in the article. Little foot had longer legs and is more advanced in bipedalism than Lucy who is younger in the timing of evolution.

New article really adds little::

https://www.livescience.com/64275-little-foot-hominin-excavated.html?utm_source=ls-news...

Human evolution; "Little foot's" brain

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 18, 2018, 19:09 (122 days ago) @ David Turell

Her brain is both ape and human:

https://phys.org/news/2018-12-peering-foot-million-year-old-brain.html


"MicroCT scans of the Australopithecus fossil known as Little Foot shows that the brain of this ancient human relative was small and shows features that are similar to our own brain and others that are closer to our ancestor shared with living chimpanzees.

"While the brain features structures similar to modern humans—such as an asymmetrical structure and pattern of middle meningeal vessels—some of its critical areas such as an expanded visual cortex and reduced parietal association cortex points to a condition that is distinct from us.

***

"The endocast showed that Little Foot's brain was asymmetrical, with a distinct left occipital petalia. Brain asymmetry is essential for lateralisation of brain function. Asymmetry occurs in humans and living apes, as well as in other younger hominin endocasts. Little Foot now shows us that this brain asymmetry was present at a very early date (from 3.67 million years ago), and supports suggestions that it was probably present in the last common ancestor of hominins and other great apes.

"Other brain structures, such as an expanded visual cortex, suggests that the brain of Little Foot probably had some features that are closer to the ancestor we share with living chimpanzees.

"'In human evolution, when know that a reduced visual cortex, as we can see in our own brain, is related to a more expanded parietal cortex—which is a critical cerebral area responsible for several aspects of sensory processing and sensorimotor integration," says Beaudet. "On the contrary, Little Foot has a large visual cortex, which is more similar to chimpanzees than to humans."

"Beaudet and her colleagues compared the Little Foot endocast with endocasts of 10 other South African hominins dating between three and 1.5 million years ago. Their preliminary calculation of Little Foot's endocranial volume was found to be at the low end of the range for Australopithecus, which is in keeping with its great age and its place among other very early fossils of Australopithecus from East Africa.

"The study also has shown that the vascular system in Australopithecus was more complex than previously thought, which raises new questions on the metabolism of the brain at this time. This might be consistent with a previous hypothesis suggesting that the endocranial vascular system in Australopithecus was closer to modern humans than it was in the geologically younger Paranthropus genus. (my bold)

""This would mean that even if Little Foot's brain was different from us, the vascular system that allows for blood flow (which brings oxygen) and may control temperature in the brain—both essential aspects for evolving a large and complex brain—were possibly already present at that time," says Beaudet.

"Given its geological age of over 3 million years, Little Foot's brain suggests that younger hominins evolved greater complexity in certain brain structures over time, perhaps in response to increasing environmental pressures experienced after 2.6 million years ago with continuing reduction in closed habitats.

"'Such environmental changes could also potentially have encouraged more complex social interaction, which is driven by structures in the brain," says Beaudet. "

Comment: Little Foot is obviously a transitional form. But note my bold about the somewhat advanced vascular system. Advanced planning by God? Social relations were also dictated by hunter-gatherers groups which had to form for survival as small groups cooperation provided food and protection.Brain plasticity would have made brain changes as socialization progressed.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" brain

by dhw, Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 10:38 (122 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTES: The study also has shown that the vascular system in Australopithecus was more complex than previously thought, which raises new questions on the metabolism of the brain at this time. This might be consistent with a previous hypothesis suggesting that the endocranial vascular system in Australopithecus was closer to modern humans than it was in the geologically younger Paranthropus genus. (David’s bold)

Given its geological age of over 3 million years, Little Foot's brain suggests that younger hominins evolved greater complexity in certain brain structures over time, perhaps in response to increasing environmental pressures experienced after 2.6 million years ago with continuing reduction in closed habitats. (dhw’s bold)

"'Such environmental changes could also potentially have encouraged more complex social interaction, which is driven by structures in the brain," says Beaudet. (dhw’s bold)

DAVID:Little Foot is obviously a transitional form.

Yes, she provides yet more evidence of common descent.

DAVID: But note my bold about the somewhat advanced vascular system. Advanced planning by God?

If so, then why would he have bothered to introduce the less advanced system later on?

DAVID: Social relations were also dictated by hunter-gatherers groups which had to form for survival as small groups cooperation provided food and protection. Brain plasticity would have made brain changes as socialization progressed.

Delighted to see you acknowledging that this area of evolution was dictated by the survivability which you tell us plays little or no role in evolution. But I’m interested mainly in the two sections I’ve bolded. Increasing environmental pressures demand increased brain activity if the hominin is to survive – i.e. brain change is in response to new requirements. But the second bold suggests the reverse – that it is the brain that drives new activities. This is a contradiction. I would support the first bold: that environmental change requires new activities, and it is these activities that change the brain.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" brain

by David Turell @, Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 18:45 (121 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTES: The study also has shown that the vascular system in Australopithecus was more complex than previously thought, which raises new questions on the metabolism of the brain at this time. This might be consistent with a previous hypothesis suggesting that the endocranial vascular system in Australopithecus was closer to modern humans than it was in the geologically younger Paranthropus genus. (David’s bold)

Given its geological age of over 3 million years, Little Foot's brain suggests that younger hominins evolved greater complexity in certain brain structures over time, perhaps in response to increasing environmental pressures experienced after 2.6 million years ago with continuing reduction in closed habitats. (dhw’s bold)

"'Such environmental changes could also potentially have encouraged more complex social interaction, which is driven by structures in the brain," says Beaudet. (dhw’s bold)

DAVID:Little Foot is obviously a transitional form.

dhw: Yes, she provides yet more evidence of common descent.

OK


DAVID: But note my bold about the somewhat advanced vascular system. Advanced planning by God?

dhw: If so, then why would he have bothered to introduce the less advanced system later on?

We don't have Lucy's skull which would have been later . Where did you get observation? The article indicates an improvement from Paranthropus.


DAVID: Social relations were also dictated by hunter-gatherers groups which had to form for survival as small groups cooperation provided food and protection. Brain plasticity would have made brain changes as socialization progressed.

dhw: Delighted to see you acknowledging that this area of evolution was dictated by the survivability which you tell us plays little or no role in evolution. But I’m interested mainly in the two sections I’ve bolded. Increasing environmental pressures demand increased brain activity if the hominin is to survive – i.e. brain change is in response to new requirements. But the second bold suggests the reverse – that it is the brain that drives new activities. This is a contradiction. I would support the first bold: that environmental change requires new activities, and it is these activities that change the brain.

No change in your position. I do not believe survivability drives evolution.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" brain

by dhw, Thursday, December 20, 2018, 10:19 (121 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: The study also has shown that the vascular system in Australopithecus was more complex than previously thought, which raises new questions on the metabolism of the brain at this time. This might be consistent with a previous hypothesis suggesting that the endocranial vascular system in Australopithecus was closer to modern humans than it was in the geologically younger Paranthropus genus. (David’s bold)

DAVID: But note my bold about the somewhat advanced vascular system. Advanced planning by God?

dhw: If so, then why would he have bothered to introduce the less advanced system later on?

DAVID: We don't have Lucy's skull which would have been later . Where did you get observation? The article indicates an improvement from Paranthropus.

The section you bolded indicates that the system of the older hominin (Australopithecus) was closer to ours than that of the younger hominin (Paranthropus).

Human evolution; "Little foot's" brain

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 20, 2018, 21:47 (120 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: The study also has shown that the vascular system in Australopithecus was more complex than previously thought, which raises new questions on the metabolism of the brain at this time. This might be consistent with a previous hypothesis suggesting that the endocranial vascular system in Australopithecus was closer to modern humans than it was in the geologically younger Paranthropus genus. (David’s bold)

DAVID: But note my bold about the somewhat advanced vascular system. Advanced planning by God?

dhw: If so, then why would he have bothered to introduce the less advanced system later on?

DAVID: We don't have Lucy's skull which would have been later . Where did you get observation? The article indicates an improvement from Paranthropus.

dhw: The section you bolded indicates that the system of the older hominin (Australopithecus) was closer to ours than that of the younger hominin (Paranthropus).

You are correct but it appears others had a less advanced vascular system but was several million years younger. Note this from the article:

Beaudet and her colleagues compared the Little Foot endocast with endocasts of 10 other South African hominins dating between three and 1.5 million years ago. Their preliminary calculation of Little Foot's endocranial volume was found to be at the low end of the range for Australopithecus, which is in keeping with its great age and its place among other very early fossils of Australopithecus from East Africa.

Yet its vascular system is more advanced. ?Pre-planning by God?

Human evolution; "Little foot's" brain

by dhw, Friday, December 21, 2018, 10:32 (120 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: The study also has shown that the vascular system in Australopithecus was more complex than previously thought, which raises new questions on the metabolism of the brain at this time. This might be consistent with a previous hypothesis suggesting that the endocranial vascular system in Australopithecus was closer to modern humans than it was in the geologically younger Paranthropus genus. (David’s bold)

DAVID: But note my bold about the somewhat advanced vascular system. Advanced planning by God?

dhw: If so, then why would he have bothered to introduce the less advanced system later on?

DAVID: We don't have Lucy's skull which would have been later . Where did you get observation? The article indicates an improvement from Paranthropus.

dhw: The section you bolded indicates that the system of the older hominin (Australopithecus) was closer to ours than that of the younger hominin (Paranthropus).

DAVID: You are correct but it appears others had a less advanced vascular system but was several million years younger. Note this from the article:
"Beaudet and her colleagues compared the Little Foot endocast with endocasts of 10 other South African hominins dating between three and 1.5 million years ago. Their preliminary calculation of Little Foot's endocranial volume was found to be at the low end of the range for Australopithecus, which is in keeping with its great age and its place among other very early fossils of Australopithecus from East Africa."

DAVID: Yet its vascular system is more advanced. Pre-planning by God?

Here are two more quotes: "This would mean that even if Little Foot's brain was different from us, the vascular system that allows for blood flow (which brings oxygen) and may control temperature in the brain—both essential aspects for evolving a large and complex brain—were possibly already present at that time," says Beaudet.

"Given its geological age of over 3 million years, Little Foot's brain suggests that younger hominins evolved greater complexity in certain brain structures over time, perhaps in response to increasing environmental pressures experienced after 2.6 million years ago with continuing reduction in closed habitats.”

If the more complex vascular system is essential for developing a more complex brain, I don’t understand why the earlier hominin with the more complex vascular system had a less complex brain than the later hominin with the less complex vascular system. And as discussed under God’s purposes and methods, I don’t understand why a God who 1) is always in full control, and 2) has the one and only purpose of creating the brain of H. sapiens, would 3) design all these different combinations. Nor do you, so maybe one or more of your three assumptions is wrong.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" brain

by David Turell @, Friday, December 21, 2018, 16:22 (119 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: You are correct but it appears others had a less advanced vascular system but was several million years younger. Note this from the article:
"Beaudet and her colleagues compared the Little Foot endocast with endocasts of 10 other South African hominins dating between three and 1.5 million years ago. Their preliminary calculation of Little Foot's endocranial volume was found to be at the low end of the range for Australopithecus, which is in keeping with its great age and its place among other very early fossils of Australopithecus from East Africa."

DAVID: Yet its vascular system is more advanced. Pre-planning by God?

dhw: Here are two more quotes: "This would mean that even if Little Foot's brain was different from us, the vascular system that allows for blood flow (which brings oxygen) and may control temperature in the brain—both essential aspects for evolving a large and complex brain—were possibly already present at that time," says Beaudet.

"Given its geological age of over 3 million years, Little Foot's brain suggests that younger hominins evolved greater complexity in certain brain structures over time, perhaps in response to increasing environmental pressures experienced after 2.6 million years ago with continuing reduction in closed habitats.”

If the more complex vascular system is essential for developing a more complex brain, I don’t understand why the earlier hominin with the more complex vascular system had a less complex brain than the later hominin with the less complex vascular system. And as discussed under God’s purposes and methods, I don’t understand why a God who 1) is always in full control, and 2) has the one and only purpose of creating the brain of H. sapiens, would 3) design all these different combinations. Nor do you, so maybe one or more of your three assumptions is wrong.

We can't get around the point Little Foot had a somewhat advanced brain circulatory system. Progress toward H. sapiens apparently went at different speeds in different areas of Africa. I can't explain it clearly to you without assuming God may have been experimenting with different approaches to evolution of humans based on differing environments, differing circulatory arrangements. There is no reason not to entertain God as being somewhat of a tinkerer. No loss of full control, but as an experimenter working things out. Remember I don't view God as religions do, absolutely omniscient. Setting up an advanced circulation before enlarging the brain makes sense since evolution builds stepwise.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" brain

by dhw, Saturday, December 22, 2018, 11:32 (119 days ago) @ David Turell

I have shifted this discussion to "Divine purposes and methods".

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 18:43 (94 days ago) @ dhw

Interesting new finding about 'little foot':

https://www.livescience.com/64464-little-foot-moved-like-chimps.html?utm_source=lsa-new...

"An ancient human relative known as "Little Foot" likely walked more like a chimpanzee than like a modern human.

"Little Foot is an exceptionally well-preserved female Australopithecus — a genus in the human family tree — dating to 3.67 million years ago. Her near-complete skeleton, discovered in a cave in South Africa in 1994, was finally excavated in December after a 20-year effort (which the scientists described as a "miracle"), and close analysis of her skull enabled scientists to create 3D models of the tiny structures in her inner ear.

"This "bony labyrinth" holds important clues about balance and movement, researchers reported in a new study. In shape, Little Foot's inner-ear structure is "substantially different" from early Homo species, suggesting that she moved differently — perhaps more like our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees.

***

" For the study, the researchers scanned the interior of Little Foot's skull and used the data to construct 3D models of her inner ear. They then compared the models with the inner ears of 17 early hominin specimens, 10 extant humans and 10 chimpanzees.

"The scientists discovered that Little Foot's ear canals differed greatly from those in human ears, and they were also very different from another hominin group known as Paranthropus, which lived at the same time as early humans. In fact, Little Foot's canals were distinctly "ape-like," resembling those of chimpanzees. This suggests that the way Australopithecus moved likely had something in common with chimps, according to the study.

"Our analysis of the inner ear might be compatible with the hypothesis that Little Foot and the Australopithecus specimens in general were walking on two legs on the ground but also spent some times in the trees," Beaudet said.

"The shape of Little Foot's cochlea — a hearing organ deep inside the ear that senses vibrations — also differed from that in Homo species, implying that Australopithecus interacted with their environment differently than their human cousins, the researchers reported."

Comment: For me this study shows the vast number of ways humans differ from apes, and why design is required

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 13:21 (94 days ago) @ David Turell

"The shape of Little Foot's cochlea — a hearing organ deep inside the ear that senses vibrations — also differed from that in Homo species, implying that Australopithecus interacted with their environment differently than their human cousins, the researchers reported."

DAVID’s comment: For me this study shows the vast number of ways humans differ from apes, and why design is required.

It is perfectly reasonable for you to make such comments, but I think it is also perfectly reasonable for me to respond. There is no doubt that we differ from apes in a vast number of ways, just as we resemble them in a vast number of ways. Every complexity suggests design, but do you believe your God deliberately designed Little Foot’s cochlea and then separately designed your own? And if so, why do you think your God deliberately designed a different cochlea for Little Foot when all he really wanted to do from the very beginning was design your cochlea?

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 13:46 (94 days ago) @ dhw

"The shape of Little Foot's cochlea — a hearing organ deep inside the ear that senses vibrations — also differed from that in Homo species, implying that Australopithecus interacted with their environment differently than their human cousins, the researchers reported."

DAVID’s comment: For me this study shows the vast number of ways humans differ from apes, and why design is required.

dhw: It is perfectly reasonable for you to make such comments, but I think it is also perfectly reasonable for me to respond. There is no doubt that we differ from apes in a vast number of ways, just as we resemble them in a vast number of ways. Every complexity suggests design, but do you believe your God deliberately designed Little Foot’s cochlea and then separately designed your own? And if so, why do you think your God deliberately designed a different cochlea for Little Foot when all he really wanted to do from the very beginning was design your cochlea?

Because God used an evolutionary method requiring little steps and big jumps/gaps as history of evolution teaches us.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Thursday, January 17, 2019, 11:58 (93 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID’s comment: For me this study shows the vast number of ways humans differ from apes, and why design is required.

dhw: It is perfectly reasonable for you to make such comments, but I think it is also perfectly reasonable for me to respond. There is no doubt that we differ from apes in a vast number of ways, just as we resemble them in a vast number of ways. Every complexity suggests design, but do you believe your God deliberately designed Little Foot’s cochlea and then separately designed your own? And if so, why do you think your God deliberately designed a different cochlea for Little Foot when all he really wanted to do from the very beginning was design your cochlea?

DAVID: Because God used an evolutionary method requiring little steps and big jumps/gaps as history of evolution teaches us.

I’m glad to hear that you incorporate little steps in your theory. Unfortunately, what we now have is that your God deliberately designed Little Foot’s cochlea, and then separately designed your cochlea, although he only wanted to design your cochlea and could have done it if he had wanted to since he is in full control. The reason why he used this method is that this is the method he used. Furthermore, what you call an “evolutionary method” is in fact a method of separate creation. I’m sure you will understand why I don’t regard this explanation as very enlightening!

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 17, 2019, 19:59 (92 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID’s comment: For me this study shows the vast number of ways humans differ from apes, and why design is required.

dhw: It is perfectly reasonable for you to make such comments, but I think it is also perfectly reasonable for me to respond. There is no doubt that we differ from apes in a vast number of ways, just as we resemble them in a vast number of ways. Every complexity suggests design, but do you believe your God deliberately designed Little Foot’s cochlea and then separately designed your own? And if so, why do you think your God deliberately designed a different cochlea for Little Foot when all he really wanted to do from the very beginning was design your cochlea?

DAVID: Because God used an evolutionary method requiring little steps and big jumps/gaps as history of evolution teaches us.

dhw: I’m glad to hear that you incorporate little steps in your theory. Unfortunately, what we now have is that your God deliberately designed Little Foot’s cochlea, and then separately designed your cochlea, although he only wanted to design your cochlea and could have done it if he had wanted to since he is in full control. The reason why he used this method is that this is the method he used. Furthermore, what you call an “evolutionary method” is in fact a method of separate creation. I’m sure you will understand why I don’t regard this explanation as very enlightening!

I'm concerned with analyzing God's works and methods. The little steps are adaptations within species and the big steps are speciation. Little Foot is a definite new species compared to previous forms and the cochlea is one of changes in the new species. In evolution we don't find God leaping from stage one whales to stage eight whales all at once, therefore it is stepwise as Darwin imagined, but not designed by a drive from survival, but designed as surviving by design in advance of the new step.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Friday, January 18, 2019, 10:22 (92 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID’s comment: For me this study shows the vast number of ways humans differ from apes, and why design is required.

dhw: It is perfectly reasonable for you to make such comments, but I think it is also perfectly reasonable for me to respond. There is no doubt that we differ from apes in a vast number of ways, just as we resemble them in a vast number of ways. Every complexity suggests design, but do you believe your God deliberately designed Little Foot’s cochlea and then separately designed your own? And if so, why do you think your God deliberately designed a different cochlea for Little Foot when all he really wanted to do from the very beginning was design your cochlea?

DAVID: Because God used an evolutionary method requiring little steps and big jumps/gaps as history of evolution teaches us.

dhw: I’m glad to hear that you incorporate little steps in your theory. Unfortunately, what we now have is that your God deliberately designed Little Foot’s cochlea, and then separately designed your cochlea, although he only wanted to design your cochlea and could have done it if he had wanted to since he is in full control. The reason why he used this method is that this is the method he used. Furthermore, what you call an “evolutionary method” is in fact a method of separate creation. I’m sure you will understand why I don’t regard this explanation as very enlightening!

DAVID: I'm concerned with analyzing God's works and methods. The little steps are adaptations within species and the big steps are speciation. Little Foot is a definite new species compared to previous forms and the cochlea is one of changes in the new species.

And so you have your God separately designing Little Foot’s cochlea, and then separately designing your cochlea, although he only wanted to design your cochlea and could have done so if he’d wanted to because he is always in full control. The reason why he separately designed the two cochleas is that his method was to separately design two cochleas.

DAVID: In evolution we don't find God leaping from stage one whales to stage eight whales all at once, therefore it is stepwise as Darwin imagined, but not designed by a drive from survival, but designed as surviving by design in advance of the new step.

Transferred from my earlier post under “Big brain evolution”, so do please re-read:

dhw: I don’t know how you can possibly stick to your dogma that survival “never pushes evolution”, when even your own unproven hypothesis claims that your God deliberately designed one innovation after another to enable organisms to survive under new conditions, and their purpose was to enable life forms to survive until he could produce the only life form he actually wanted to produce, which was you and me. The difference between us here is that you have the innovations/adaptations being designed (by your God) in anticipation of their being needed for survival under new conditions, whereas I have them being designed (by intelligent cell communities) in response to their being needed for survival under new conditions. In both cases, survival is the prime reason for each innovation.

DAVID: And that response to natural demands for survival is pure Darwin.

Firstly, why do you think your God specially changed pre-whale legs into fins and then made them go into the water if the fins were not designed to improve their chances of survival in the water? Secondly, you seem to think that the name Darwin automatically negates any argument. What do you find so unthinkable in the proposal that organisms change in accordance with the requirements of their surroundings, and that these changes are made because they might improve their chances of survival?

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Friday, January 18, 2019, 22:18 (91 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I'm concerned with analyzing God's works and methods. The little steps are adaptations within species and the big steps are speciation. Little Foot is a definite new species compared to previous forms and the cochlea is one of changes in the new species.

dhw: And so you have your God separately designing Little Foot’s cochlea, and then separately designing your cochlea, although he only wanted to design your cochlea and could have done so if he’d wanted to because he is always in full control. The reason why he separately designed the two cochleas is that his method was to separately design two cochleas.

His method I have constantly stated is to gradually create new species by evolving the parts of previous species. Make fun of it if you wish, but it is perfectly understandable.


DAVID: In evolution we don't find God leaping from stage one whales to stage eight whales all at once, therefore it is stepwise as Darwin imagined, but not designed by a drive from survival, but designed as surviving by design in advance of the new step.

Transferred from my earlier post under “Big brain evolution”, so do please re-read:

dhw: I don’t know how you can possibly stick to your dogma that survival “never pushes evolution”, when even your own unproven hypothesis claims that your God deliberately designed one innovation after another to enable organisms to survive under new conditions, and their purpose was to enable life forms to survive until he could produce the only life form he actually wanted to produce, which was you and me. The difference between us here is that you have the innovations/adaptations being designed (by your God) in anticipation of their being needed for survival under new conditions, whereas I have them being designed (by intelligent cell communities) in response to their being needed for survival under new conditions. In both cases, survival is the prime reason for each innovation.

DAVID: And that response to natural demands for survival is pure Darwin.

dhw: Firstly, why do you think your God specially changed pre-whale legs into fins and then made them go into the water if the fins were not designed to improve their chances of survival in the water? Secondly, you seem to think that the name Darwin automatically negates any argument. What do you find so unthinkable in the proposal that organisms change in accordance with the requirements of their surroundings, and that these changes are made because they might improve their chances of survival?

He evolves these parts in advance to assure survival. The driving force is design and survival has to be a necessary byproduct so each stage of evolution can continue. Obvious.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Saturday, January 19, 2019, 13:06 (91 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I'm concerned with analyzing God's works and methods. The little steps are adaptations within species and the big steps are speciation. Little Foot is a definite new species compared to previous forms and the cochlea is one of changes in the new species.

dhw: And so you have your God separately designing Little Foot’s cochlea, and then separately designing your cochlea, although he only wanted to design your cochlea and could have done so if he’d wanted to because he is always in full control. The reason why he separately designed the two cochleas is that his method was to separately design two cochleas.

DAVID: His method I have constantly stated is to gradually create new species by evolving the parts of previous species. Make fun of it if you wish, but it is perfectly understandable.

I am not making fun of his method, but of your interpretation of his method. You keep sneering at Darwin’s concept of gradual speciation, but now suddenly species are created gradually. I don’t know what you mean by “evolving” the parts, since you have told us that Little Foot is a new species, God specially designed its cochlea, and he creates every species de novo (the opposite of gradually). There is simply no consistency here or in your interpretation of your God’s purpose (to create H. sapiens), your belief that he is in full control, and that his method of creating the one thing he wants to create is to create lots of different things, including Little Foot and its cochlea, and eight stages of whale – see below.

DAVID: And that response to natural demands for survival is pure Darwin.

dhw: Firstly, why do you think your God specially changed pre-whale legs into fins and then made them go into the water if the fins were not designed to improve their chances of survival in the water? Secondly, you seem to think that the name Darwin automatically negates any argument. What do you find so unthinkable in the proposal that organisms change in accordance with the requirements of their surroundings, and that these changes are made because they might improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: He evolves these parts in advance to assure survival. The driving force is design and survival has to be a necessary byproduct so each stage of evolution can continue. Obvious.

Design is not a driving force! The driving force is the purpose of the design! And if something is designed for the purpose of ensuring survival – whether the designing anticipates a threat to survival or takes place in response to the threat – it is obvious that survival is the motive for the design. It is therefore absurd to argue that the motive for the design is not a driving force. (In both scenarios, you and I agree that the change has been designed, i.e. does not occur by chance).

Under “Lichens”:

QUOTE: The very notion of different organisms living so closely with—or within—each other was unheard of. That they should coexist to their mutual benefit was more ludicrous still. This was a mere decade after Charles Darwin had published his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, and many biologists were gripped by the idea of nature as a gladiatorial arena, shaped by conflict.[/b] (David’s bold)

DAVID: The major point of this article is that Darwin championed the idea of evolution through conflict, struggle, and the ability to survive. The point of the article is that much of life shows cooperation and that conflict may not be that important.

How often do you have to be reminded that Lynn Margulis – following on from other authors who had posited symbiosis as a a vital part of the evolutionary process – specifically repudiated Darwin’s idea of conflict as the major driving force. Here is a quote: “The view of evolution as a chronic bloody competition among individuals and species, a popular distortion of Darwin's notion of "survival of the fittest," dissolves before a new view of continual cooperation, strong interaction, and mutual dependence among life forms. Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking. Life forms multiplied and complexified by co-opting others, not just by killing them.”

We have long since agreed on this. But why do you bracket it with the ability to survive? Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: Evolution can certainly mean each step is designed for survival as obviously must happen or there would be no evolution. Viewed this way, since there is no proof survival is the driving force…

If something is designed for survival, to make sure life continues, how can you say the motive for each design is not the driving force?

DAVID….it must be taken as a weak argument. And puts natural selection as a concept in a tenuous position. It can only exert its influence on what is presented by evolving forms. Like survival, it cannot be seen as driving evolution.

We have long since agreed that natural selection does not create anything and is not a driving force. Why do you keep roasting these old chestnuts?

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 19, 2019, 19:33 (90 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: He evolves these parts in advance to assure survival. The driving force is design and survival has to be a necessary byproduct so each stage of evolution can continue. Obvious.

dhw: Design is not a driving force! The driving force is the purpose of the design!

Exactly. Design implies a designer with a purpose

dhw: And if something is designed for the purpose of ensuring survival – whether the designing anticipates a threat to survival or takes place in response to the threat – it is obvious that survival is the motive for the design.

If the purpose is a goal through evolution to create a specific life form, survival is necessary but not a primary force. The purpose is! Design for survival is a byproduct of the purposeful design of teh designer.


Under “Lichens”:

QUOTE: The very notion of different organisms living so closely with—or within—each other was unheard of. That they should coexist to their mutual benefit was more ludicrous still. This was a mere decade after Charles Darwin had published his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, and many biologists were gripped by the idea of nature as a gladiatorial arena, shaped by conflict.[/b] (David’s bold)

DAVID: The major point of this article is that Darwin championed the idea of evolution through conflict, struggle, and the ability to survive. The point of the article is that much of life shows cooperation and that conflict may not be that important.

dhw: How often do you have to be reminded that Lynn Margulis – following on from other authors who had posited symbiosis as a a vital part of the evolutionary process – specifically repudiated Darwin’s idea of conflict as the major driving force. Here is a quote: “The view of evolution as a chronic bloody competition among individuals and species, a popular distortion of Darwin's notion of "survival of the fittest," dissolves before a new view of continual cooperation, strong interaction, and mutual dependence among life forms. Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking. Life forms multiplied and complexified by co-opting others, not just by killing them.”

We have long since agreed on this. But why do you bracket it with the ability to survive? Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: Evolution can certainly mean each step is designed for survival as obviously must happen or there would be no evolution. Viewed this way, since there is no proof survival is the driving force…

dhw: If something is designed for survival, to make sure life continues, how can you say the motive for each design is not the driving force?

See above.


DAVID….it must be taken as a weak argument. And puts natural selection as a concept in a tenuous position. It can only exert its influence on what is presented by evolving forms. Like survival, it cannot be seen as driving evolution.

dhw: We have long since agreed that natural selection does not create anything and is not a driving force. Why do you keep roasting these old chestnuts?

I simply presented the essay as view with which I agree, and it shows how Darwin's concepts poisoned future reasoning. I think your reasoning uses the concept of struggle for survival far beyond its usefulness.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Sunday, January 20, 2019, 12:26 (90 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: He evolves these parts in advance to assure survival. The driving force is design and survival has to be a necessary byproduct so each stage of evolution can continue. Obvious.

dhw: Design is not a driving force! The driving force is the purpose of the design!

DAVID: Exactly. Design implies a designer with a purpose.

“Exactly” what? The driving force is not design but the motive for the design.

dhw: And if something is designed for the purpose of ensuring survival – whether the designing anticipates a threat to survival or takes place in response to the threat – it is obvious that survival is the motive for the design.

DAVID: If the purpose is a goal through evolution to create a specific life form, survival is necessary but not a primary force. The purpose is! Design for survival is a byproduct of the purposeful design of the designer.

So your designer did not design the whale’s fin to help the whale to survive in water; he designed it so that he would be able to design the human ear, pelvis, brain and bipedalism.

Under “Lichens:

DAVID: The major point of this article is that Darwin championed the idea of evolution through conflict, struggle, and the ability to survive. The point of the article is that much of life shows cooperation and that conflict may not be that important.

dhw: How often do you have to be reminded that Lynn Margulis – following on from other authors who had posited symbiosis as a a vital part of the evolutionary process – specifically repudiated Darwin’s idea of conflict as the major driving force. […]
We have long since agreed on this. But why do you bracket it with the ability to survive? Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

Not answered.

dhw: If something is designed for survival, to make sure life continues, how can you say the motive for each design is not the driving force?

DAVID: ...it must be taken as a weak argument. And puts natural selection as a concept in a tenuous position. It can only exert its influence on what is presented by evolving forms. Like survival, it cannot be seen as driving evolution.

dhw: We have long since agreed that natural selection does not create anything and is not a driving force. Why do you keep roasting these old chestnuts?

DAVID: I simply presented the essay as view with which I agree, and it shows how Darwin's concepts poisoned future reasoning. I think your reasoning uses the concept of struggle for survival far beyond its usefulness.

Your hatred of Darwin simply blinds you to obvious truths. Please answer the question above: why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 20, 2019, 18:34 (89 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: If the purpose is a goal through evolution to create a specific life form, survival is necessary but not a primary force. The purpose is! Design for survival is a byproduct of the purposeful design of the designer.

dhw: So your designer did not design the whale’s fin to help the whale to survive in water; he designed it so that he would be able to design the human ear, pelvis, brain and bipedalism.

Glib response. Just accept the obvious. From simple to complex in evolution can be created in stepwise fashion .

Under “Lichens:

DAVID: The major point of this article is that Darwin championed the idea of evolution through conflict, struggle, and the ability to survive. The point of the article is that much of life shows cooperation and that conflict may not be that important.

dhw: How often do you have to be reminded that Lynn Margulis – following on from other authors who had posited symbiosis as a a vital part of the evolutionary process – specifically repudiated Darwin’s idea of conflict as the major driving force. […]
We have long since agreed on this. But why do you bracket it with the ability to survive? Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

Not answered.

I accept Margulis. I always have. Of course there is cooperation. Note my presentation of lichens. Lichens have a purpose in that they break down lava rock on the way to soil for plants. Everything in evolution fills God purposes to eventually create humans. And He must design for survival if his method is to continue .


dhw: If something is designed for survival, to make sure life continues, how can you say the motive for each design is not the driving force?

DAVID: ...it must be taken as a weak argument. And puts natural selection as a concept in a tenuous position. It can only exert its influence on what is presented by evolving forms. Like survival, it cannot be seen as driving evolution.

dhw: We have long since agreed that natural selection does not create anything and is not a driving force. Why do you keep roasting these old chestnuts?

DAVID: I simply presented the essay as view with which I agree, and it shows how Darwin's concepts poisoned future reasoning. I think your reasoning uses the concept of struggle for survival far beyond its usefulness.

dhw: Your hatred of Darwin simply blinds you to obvious truths. Please answer the question above: why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

I don't hate Darwin. He opened up an area for research and discussion by making us all recognize we got here by evolution. His antiquated arguments were reasonable enough at his time in life, but they need to be fully abandoned as we learn what he theorized as causing evolution is totally wrong. I only hate what his followers have created in a religion of Darwinism to protect his out-of-date ideas.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Monday, January 21, 2019, 13:40 (89 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: If the purpose is a goal through evolution to create a specific life form, survival is necessary but not a primary force. The purpose is! Design for survival is a byproduct of the purposeful design of the designer.

dhw: So your designer did not design the whale’s fin to help the whale to survive in water; he designed it so that he would be able to design the human ear, pelvis, brain and bipedalism.

DAVID:Glib response. Just accept the obvious. From simple to complex in evolution can be created in stepwise fashion.

Of course it can! How does that support your contention that your God did not design the whale’s fin in order to help the whale survive in water, but in order to enable him to design the human ear, pelvis etc.? This raises the next question, which you keep refusing to answer:

dhw: Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: I accept Margulis. I always have. Of course there is cooperation. Note my presentation of lichens. Lichens have a purpose in that they break down lava rock on the way to soil for plants. Everything in evolution fills God purposes to eventually create humans. And He must design for survival if his method is to continue.

So the purpose of organisms cooperating or of your God specially designing dinosaurs to eat one another, and turning pre-whale legs into fins, and teaching monarch butterflies the route to safety, and camouflaging cuttlefish, and specially designing 50,000 different spider webs had nothing to do with helping those organisms to survive, but it was to help those organisms to survive! Because if those evolutionary developments hadn’t been specially designed to help those organisms to survive, your always-in-control God couldn’t have stuck to his self-imposed timetable of specially designing H. sapiens after 3.5+ billion years.

DAVID: I simply presented the essay as view with which I agree, and it shows how Darwin's concepts poisoned future reasoning. I think your reasoning uses the concept of struggle for survival far beyond its usefulness.

dhw: Your hatred of Darwin simply blinds you to obvious truths. Please answer the question above: why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: I don't hate Darwin. He opened up an area for research and discussion by making us all recognize we got here by evolution. His antiquated arguments were reasonable enough at his time in life, but they need to be fully abandoned as we learn what he theorized as causing evolution is totally wrong.

Abandoning ideas such as random mutations as the cause of innovation, and nature never jumps, is in my view very reasonable. That is not the same as “fully” abandoning his ideas. I’m actually surprised to hear that you still recognize that we got here by evolution, when in a recent post you believed that your God “creates species de novo”, but perhaps this is no more surprising than your insistence that survival is not a driving force for evolution even though you think your God specially designed innovations in order to help the organisms survive (as above), or your reluctance to answer questions such as: why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: I only hate what his followers have created in a religion of Darwinism to protect his out-of-date ideas.

I agree that some of Darwin’s ideas are out of date (as above), but some are not. I also hate it when both theists and atheists distort Darwin’s ideas and pretend that evolution is incompatible with religious belief when he explicitly pointed out that it wasn’t.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Monday, January 21, 2019, 15:33 (89 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID:Glib response. Just accept the obvious. From simple to complex in evolution can be created in stepwise fashion.

dhw: Of course it can! How does that support your contention that your God did not design the whale’s fin in order to help the whale survive in water, but in order to enable him to design the human ear, pelvis etc.? This raises the next question, which you keep refusing to answer:

dhw: Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

Survival is required for evolution to continue. Survival is designed into the process by God.


DAVID: I accept Margulis. I always have. Of course there is cooperation. Note my presentation of lichens. Lichens have a purpose in that they break down lava rock on the way to soil for plants. Everything in evolution fills God purposes to eventually create humans. And He must design for survival if his method is to continue.

dhw: So the purpose of organisms cooperating or of your God specially designing dinosaurs to eat one another, and turning pre-whale legs into fins, and teaching monarch butterflies the route to safety, and camouflaging cuttlefish, and specially designing 50,000 different spider webs had nothing to do with helping those organisms to survive, but it was to help those organisms to survive! Because if those evolutionary developments hadn’t been specially designed to help those organisms to survive, your always-in-control God couldn’t have stuck to his self-imposed timetable of specially designing H. sapiens after 3.5+ billion years.

Welcome to the clear history of evolution. Survival is obviously required for evolution to continue. "Struggle for survival" does not drive evolution.


DAVID: I don't hate Darwin. He opened up an area for research and discussion by making us all recognize we got here by evolution. His antiquated arguments were reasonable enough at his time in life, but they need to be fully abandoned as we learn what he theorized as causing evolution is totally wrong.

Abandoning ideas such as random mutations as the cause of innovation, and nature never jumps, is in my view very reasonable. That is not the same as “fully” abandoning his ideas. I’m actually surprised to hear that you still recognize that we got here by evolution, when in a recent post you believed that your God “creates species de novo”, but perhaps this is no more surprising than your insistence that survival is not a driving force for evolution even though you think your God specially designed innovations in order to help the organisms survive (as above), or your reluctance to answer questions such as: why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

Cooperation helps survival, but you keep insisting survival drives evolution and that is a concept that is unproven.


DAVID: I only hate what his followers have created in a religion of Darwinism to protect his out-of-date ideas.

dhw: I agree that some of Darwin’s ideas are out of date (as above), but some are not. I also hate it when both theists and atheists distort Darwin’s ideas and pretend that evolution is incompatible with religious belief when he explicitly pointed out that it wasn’t.

Which of Darwin's ideas do you cling to? Both of us accept that we evolved as he championed. Anything more?

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 11:21 (88 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: Cooperation helps survival, but you keep insisting survival drives evolution and that is a concept that is unproven.

And

DAVID: Survival is required for evolution to continue. Survival is designed into the process by God.

I would have thought that for most people the role of survival as a driving force is blindingly obvious, and even you keep agreeing that the purpose of cooperation between organisms, the development of fins, camouflage and migration– whether designed by your God or designed by the cell communities themselves – is to ensure survival! If you wish to add to this your personal and inexplicable belief that your God’s reason for wanting the whale to survive in water, the cuttlefish to survive predation, and the monarch butterfly to survive the winter, was that if they hadn‘t, he couldn’t have waited 3.5+ billion years in order to specially design you and me, that’s up to you. But it does not alter the fact that the purpose of the fin, the camouflage and the migration was to improve chances of survival, and for most of us the purpose of something is the driving force behind its coming into being.

The next section of your post deals with the same conflation of the blindingly obvious purpose of survival, which you keep acknowledging, with the overall purpose you impose on your God of filling in 3.5+ billion years of life before he specially designs the only thing he actually wants to design.

DAVID: I only hate what his [Darwin’s] followers have created in a religion of Darwinism to protect his out-of-date ideas.

dhw: I agree that some of Darwin’s ideas are out of date (as above), but some are not. I also hate it when both theists and atheists distort Darwin’s ideas and pretend that evolution is incompatible with religious belief when he explicitly pointed out that it wasn’t.

DAVID: Which of Darwin's ideas do you cling to? Both of us accept that we evolved as he championed. Anything more?

Sometimes you say you accept evolution, but sometimes you insist that every innovation was specially designed and you subscribe directly to Creationism: “I think God creates species de novo in an evolving order.” I don’t know what you meant by an evolving order, but de novo could hardly be clearer. I accept common descent, the influence of the environment on speciation, survival as the driving force (which entails cooperation as well as competition), and natural selection as a neat term to explain the survival of organs and organisms (but NOT to explain speciation). I am only against random mutations as the cause of innovations, and Darwin’s insistence that “natura non facit saltus”.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 16:55 (87 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: Cooperation helps survival, but you keep insisting survival drives evolution and that is a concept that is unproven.

And

DAVID: Survival is required for evolution to continue. Survival is designed into the process by God.

dhw: I would have thought that for most people the role of survival as a driving force is blindingly obvious, and even you keep agreeing that the purpose of cooperation between organisms, the development of fins, camouflage and migration– whether designed by your God or designed by the cell communities themselves – is to ensure survival! If you wish to add to this your personal and inexplicable belief that your God’s reason for wanting the whale to survive in water, the cuttlefish to survive predation, and the monarch butterfly to survive the winter, was that if they hadn‘t, he couldn’t have waited 3.5+ billion years in order to specially design you and me, that’s up to you. But it does not alter the fact that the purpose of the fin, the camouflage and the migration was to improve chances of survival, and for most of us the purpose of something is the driving force behind its coming into being.

Our difference is that I view God as driving evolution step by step which makes survival a non-driving force

dhw: I agree that some of Darwin’s ideas are out of date (as above), but some are not. I also hate it when both theists and atheists distort Darwin’s ideas and pretend that evolution is incompatible with religious belief when he explicitly pointed out that it wasn’t.

DAVID: Which of Darwin's ideas do you cling to? Both of us accept that we evolved as he championed. Anything more?

dhw: Sometimes you say you accept evolution, but sometimes you insist that every innovation was specially designed and you subscribe directly to Creationism: “I think God creates species de novo in an evolving order.” I don’t know what you meant by an evolving order, but de novo could hardly be clearer. I accept common descent, the influence of the environment on speciation, survival as the driving force (which entails cooperation as well as competition), and natural selection as a neat term to explain the survival of organs and organisms (but NOT to explain speciation). I am only against random mutations as the cause of innovations, and Darwin’s insistence that “natura non facit saltus”.

Fine. Common descent is a step-wize development of more and more complexity. As above I view God as the driver designer.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 13:09 (87 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: Cooperation helps survival, but you keep insisting survival drives evolution and that is a concept that is unproven.
And
DAVID: Survival is required for evolution to continue. Survival is designed into the process by God.

dhw: I would have thought that for most people the role of survival as a driving force is blindingly obvious etc. etc.

DAVID: Our difference is that I view God as driving evolution step by step which makes survival a non-driving force.

No it doesn’t. In your hypothesis, of course your God is the driving force behind the creation of life and evolution. The doer is the driving force behind the deed, and the reason for the deed is the driving force behind the doer. In your hypothesis, survival is the driving force behind your God’s decision to specially design whale fins, cuttlefish camouflage and monarch butterfly flight paths. The fact that you believe your always-in-control God specially designed these means of survival in order to provide econiches for life forms to eat one another (= your food argument on the genome thread) so that he could fill in 3.5+ billion years before specially designing the only thing he wanted to specially design – you and me – does not alter the obvious fact that survival is the reason for inventing means of survival. The reason for doing something is the driving force for doing it. And so even in your strange hypothesis of 3.5 billion years of divine procrastination, it is absurd to claim that “there is little real evidence that survival plays any role in evolution”, which was the starting point of this particular discussion.

You then asked me which of Darwin’s ideas I “cling” to, and I gave you a complete list of those I accepted and those I rejected.

DAVID: Fine. Common descent is a step-wize development of more and more complexity. As above I view God as the driver designer.

I know you do. Sometimes you even view God as having specially designed every step and every species “de novo” although you claim to believe in evolution and common descent. Anyway, you asked me which of Darwin’s ideas I “cling” to, and I answered you.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 19:28 (86 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Why do you think organisms cooperate if it’s not in order to improve their chances of survival?

DAVID: Cooperation helps survival, but you keep insisting survival drives evolution and that is a concept that is unproven.
And
DAVID: Survival is required for evolution to continue. Survival is designed into the process by God.

dhw: I would have thought that for most people the role of survival as a driving force is blindingly obvious etc. etc.

DAVID: Our difference is that I view God as driving evolution step by step which makes survival a non-driving force.

dhw: No it doesn’t. In your hypothesis, of course your God is the driving force behind the creation of life and evolution. The doer is the driving force behind the deed, and the reason for the deed is the driving force behind the doer. In your hypothesis, survival is the driving force behind your God’s decision to specially design whale fins, cuttlefish camouflage and monarch butterfly flight paths.

Total misinterpretation of my clearly stated position. God's driving force is His purpose to produce humans through a process of evolving ever-complex organisms. Survival must be included in the progressive designs or evolution cannot proceed. This is a nuanced view that seems to escape you, probably because you do not have a view of God similar to mine.

dhw: The fact that you believe your always-in-control God specially designed these means of survival in order to provide econiches for life forms to eat one another (= your food argument on the genome thread) so that he could fill in 3.5+ billion years before specially designing the only thing he wanted to specially design – you and me – does not alter the obvious fact that survival is the reason for inventing means of survival. The reason for doing something is the driving force for doing it. And so even in your strange hypothesis of 3.5 billion years of divine procrastination, it is absurd to claim that “there is little real evidence that survival plays any role in evolution”, which was the starting point of this particular discussion.

Your usual trope. Of course God seems to have procrastinated if He decided to chose evolution as his means of creation. Why won't you allow Him the right to make that choice? It is what history tells us, and doesn't require your fanciful theories about God wildly human desires.


dhw: You then asked me which of Darwin’s ideas I “cling” to, and I gave you a complete list of those I accepted and those I rejected.

DAVID: Fine. Common descent is a step-wize development of more and more complexity. As above I view God as the driver designer.

dhw: I know you do. Sometimes you even view God as having specially designed every step and every species “de novo” although you claim to believe in evolution and common descent. Anyway, you asked me which of Darwin’s ideas I “cling” to, and I answered you.

I don't understand you. My view of God's control is obviously a form of common descent, one you don't like, but that doesn't change its validity as a viewpoint.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Thursday, January 24, 2019, 10:30 (86 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I would have thought that for most people the role of survival as a driving force is blindingly obvious etc. etc.

DAVID: Our difference is that I view God as driving evolution step by step which makes survival a non-driving force.

dhw: No it doesn’t. In your hypothesis, of course your God is the driving force behind the creation of life and evolution. The doer is the driving force behind the deed, and the reason for the deed is the driving force behind the doer. In your hypothesis, survival is the driving force behind your God’s decision to specially design whale fins, cuttlefish camouflage and monarch butterfly flight paths.

DAVID: Total misinterpretation of my clearly stated position. God's driving force is His purpose to produce humans through a process of evolving ever-complex organisms. Survival must be included in the progressive designs or evolution cannot proceed. This is a nuanced view that seems to escape you, probably because you do not have a view of God similar to mine.

I certainly don’t share your view that your God specially designed whale fins, cuttlefish camouflage and monarch flight paths in order to produce humans through a process of “ever-complex” organisms, and like yourself I cannot understand why he would impose a 3.5+ billion-year schedule upon himself (see below) to create the only life form he wanted to create. But of course I agree that evolution could not have proceeded if every life form died out – regardless of where it was leading! That is why – even if your God exists and designed every single life form etc. – the reason for all the individual innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders that constitute the history of life and evolution is to improve chances of survival. And that is why it is absurd to claim that “there is little real evidence that survival plays any role in evolution”, which was the starting point of this particular discussion

DAVID: Your usual trope. Of course God seems to have procrastinated if He decided to chose evolution as his means of creation. Why won't you allow Him the right to make that choice? It is what history tells us, and doesn't require your fanciful theories about God wildly human desires.

If God exists, of course he chose evolution as his means of creation. What I am contesting is your right to insist that he only wanted to create H. sapiens, and imposed a 3.5+ billion-year waiting time on himself, and only created all the other life forms so that they could eat one another until his self-imposed waiting time was over. “Wildly human desires” are your mantra whenever I challenge your logic (not God’s), as in this exchange taken from the “Genome complexity” thread on the same subject:

dhw: Your idea is that your always-in-control God specially designed a bush of food to fill in 3.5+ billion years of life until he could specially design the only thing he wanted to design. I suggest that the helter-skelter bush is the result of him wishing to create a helter-skelter bush. We needn’t go into the “humanizing” reasons we both hypothesize.

DAVID: But all you have done is look for humanizing reasons. There is no reason for humans with consciousness to appear unless God desired that result of evolution.

If your God exists, there is no reason for the higgledy-piggledy bush to appear unless he desired that result of evolution. Why is that a “humanizing” reason, and the appearance of humans is not a “humanizing” reason. Why would he want a higgledy-piggledy bush to appear? I can’t give you a reason without “humanizing him”. Why would he want humans to appear? Give me a reason without “humanizing” him. You can’t. That’s why you came up with: he wants us to think about him, to have a relationship with him, to admire what he has created. And so it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that since history shows us a higgledy-piggledy bush, your God may have wanted a higgledy-piggledy bush, and we needn’t go into the “humanizing” reasons we both hypothesize.

dhw: You then asked me which of Darwin’s ideas I “cling” to, and I gave you a complete list of those I accepted and those I rejected.

DAVID: Fine. Common descent is a step-wize development of more and more complexity. As above I view God as the driver designer.

dhw: I know you do. Sometimes you even view God as having specially designed every step and every species “de novo” although you claim to believe in evolution and common descent. Anyway, you asked me which of Darwin’s ideas I “cling” to, and I answered you.

DAVID: I don't understand you. My view of God's control is obviously a form of common descent, one you don't like, but that doesn't change its validity as a viewpoint.

Your view changes from day to day. How can you reconcile common descent with “I think God creates species de novo in an evolving order” (January 16)? If he modifies existing species (= common descent), then speciation is not de novo!

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 24, 2019, 21:07 (85 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: In your hypothesis, of course your God is the driving force behind the creation of life and evolution. The doer is the driving force behind the deed, and the reason for the deed is the driving force behind the doer. In your hypothesis, survival is the driving force behind your God’s decision to specially design whale fins, cuttlefish camouflage and monarch butterfly flight paths.

DAVID: Total misinterpretation of my clearly stated position. God's driving force is His purpose to produce humans through a process of evolving ever-complex organisms. Survival must be included in the progressive designs or evolution cannot proceed. This is a nuanced view that seems to escape you, probably because you do not have a view of God similar to mine.

dhw: But of course I agree that evolution could not have proceeded if every life form died out – regardless of where it was leading! That is why – even if your God exists and designed every single life form etc. – the reason for all the individual innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders that constitute the history of life and evolution is to improve chances of survival. And that is why it is absurd to claim that “there is little real evidence that survival plays any role in evolution”, which was the starting point of this particular discussion

Have you presented any actual evidence?


dhw: Your idea is that your always-in-control God specially designed a bush of food to fill in 3.5+ billion years of life until he could specially design the only thing he wanted to design. I suggest that the helter-skelter bush is the result of him wishing to create a helter-skelter bush. We needn’t go into the “humanizing” reasons we both hypothesize.

DAVID: But all you have done is look for humanizing reasons. There is no reason for humans with consciousness to appear unless God desired that result of evolution.

dhw: If your God exists, there is no reason for the higgledy-piggledy bush to appear unless he desired that result of evolution. Why is that a “humanizing” reason, and the appearance of humans is not a “humanizing” reason. Why would he want a higgledy-piggledy bush to appear? I can’t give you a reason without “humanizing him”. Why would he want humans to appear? Give me a reason without “humanizing” him. You can’t. That’s why you came up with: he wants us to think about him, to have a relationship with him, to admire what he has created. And so it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that since history shows us a higgledy-piggledy bush, your God may have wanted a higgledy-piggledy bush, and we needn’t go into the “humanizing” reasons we both hypothesize.

The h-p provides the necessary food. Of course God needed to create the bush.


dhw: I know you do. Sometimes you even view God as having specially designed every step and every species “de novo” although you claim to believe in evolution and common descent. Anyway, you asked me which of Darwin’s ideas I “cling” to, and I answered you.

DAVID: I don't understand you. My view of God's control is obviously a form of common descent, one you don't like, but that doesn't change its validity as a viewpoint.

dhw: Your view changes from day to day. How can you reconcile common descent with “I think God creates species de novo in an evolving order” (January 16)? If he modifies existing species (= common descent), then speciation is not de novo!

My view is quite fixed. You misinterpret my use of de novo. Each species is a new species although it certainly may be a modification. It may have come from a previous form but it still is something new. I use it is the Latin sense of something new from something in the past.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Friday, January 25, 2019, 10:52 (85 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: God's driving force is His purpose to produce humans through a process of evolving ever-complex organisms. Survival must be included in the progressive designs or evolution cannot proceed. This is a nuanced view that seems to escape you, probably because you do not have a view of God similar to mine.

dhw: But of course I agree that evolution could not have proceeded if every life form died out – regardless of where it was leading! That is why – even if your God exists and designed every single life form etc. – the reason for all the individual innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders that constitute the history of life and evolution is to improve chances of survival. And that is why it is absurd to claim that “there is little real evidence that survival plays any role in evolution”, which was the starting point of this particular discussion

DAVID: Have you presented any actual evidence?

What do you want me to do? Should I cut off the whale’s fins and tail, remove the cuttlefish’s camouflage, stop the monarch butterfly from migrating, go round snipping out the web-making equipment of 50,000 types of spider, and then report back to tell you how long they survive? You claim that your God specially designed all these innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders, and did so to enable the organisms to SURVIVE until his mysteriously self-imposed waiting time of 3.5+ billion years had elapsed, and only then could he design the only thing he wanted to design. "Have you presented any actual evidence?" If the purpose of an innovation, lifestyle or natural wonder (whether specially designed by your God or not) is to help the organism to survive, it is patently absurd to say that survival plays no role in evolution.

DAVID: My view of God's control is obviously a form of common descent, one you don't like, but that doesn't change its validity as a viewpoint.

dhw: Your view changes from day to day. How can you reconcile common descent with “I think God creates species de novo in an evolving order” (January 16)? If he modifies existing species (= common descent), then speciation is not de novo!

DAVID: My view is quite fixed. You misinterpret my use of de novo. Each species is a new species although it certainly may be a modification. It may have come from a previous form but it still is something new. I use it is the Latin sense of something new from something in the past.

A lot of your views are indeed fixed. Lots of species are now old, and so I presume you mean that each new species is a new species, which I suspect we would all agree on. But if you create something de novo, it means you create it from scratch, not that you modify something that already exists. Creationists believe that their God created each species separately, or de novo (= anew, afresh, from the beginning), whereas evolutionists believe that all species evolved out of earlier species. You are as aware of this as I am. Even with my limited knowledge of Latin, I don’t know how “de novo” can mean “from something in the past”.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Friday, January 25, 2019, 21:46 (84 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Have you presented any actual evidence?

dhw: What do you want me to do? Should I cut off the whale’s fins and tail, remove the cuttlefish’s camouflage, stop the monarch butterfly from migrating, go round snipping out the web-making equipment of 50,000 types of spider, and then report back to tell you how long they survive? You claim that your God specially designed all these innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders, and did so to enable the organisms to SURVIVE until his mysteriously self-imposed waiting time of 3.5+ billion years had elapsed, and only then could he design the only thing he wanted to design. "Have you presented any actual evidence?" If the purpose of an innovation, lifestyle or natural wonder (whether specially designed by your God or not) is to help the organism to survive, it is patently absurd to say that survival plays no role in evolution.

Twisting and turning again. I never said it played NO role in evolution. To repeat: species must be designed to survive or evolutionary advances will stop. The driving force is a designer who is fully aware of the necessity of survival. I do not accept survival as a driving force, and I don't expect you to become a research scientist. Just find me a factual report that proves evolution is driven by survival. It is a Darwin concept, never proven, and I know you know that.


DAVID: My view of God's control is obviously a form of common descent, one you don't like, but that doesn't change its validity as a viewpoint.

dhw: Your view changes from day to day. How can you reconcile common descent with “I think God creates species de novo in an evolving order” (January 16)? If he modifies existing species (= common descent), then speciation is not de novo!

DAVID: My view is quite fixed. You misinterpret my use of de novo. Each species is a new species although it certainly may be a modification. It may have come from a previous form but it still is something new. I use it is the Latin sense of something new from something in the past.

dhw: A lot of your views are indeed fixed. Lots of species are now old, and so I presume you mean that each new species is a new species, which I suspect we would all agree on. But if you create something de novo, it means you create it from scratch, not that you modify something that already exists. Creationists believe that their God created each species separately, or de novo (= anew, afresh, from the beginning), whereas evolutionists believe that all species evolved out of earlier species. You are as aware of this as I am. Even with my limited knowledge of Latin, I don’t know how “de novo” can mean “from something in the past”.

No need to argue about de novo. In Latin it is something new. Dictionaries support there usage: Roget's thesaurus : anew, afresh

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Saturday, January 26, 2019, 13:49 (84 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Have you presented any actual evidence?

dhw: What do you want me to do? Should I cut off the whale’s fins and tail, remove the cuttlefish’s camouflage, stop the monarch butterfly from migrating, go round snipping out the web-making equipment of 50,000 types of spider, and then report back to tell you how long they survive? You claim that your God specially designed all these innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders, and did so to enable the organisms to SURVIVE until his mysteriously self-imposed waiting time of 3.5+ billion years had elapsed, and only then could he design the only thing he wanted to design. "Have you presented any actual evidence?" If the purpose of an innovation, lifestyle or natural wonder (whether specially designed by your God or not) is to help the organism to survive, it is patently absurd to say that survival plays no role in evolution.

DAVID: Twisting and turning again. I never said it played NO role in evolution.

I haven’t got time to go through all your past posts, but this has been an ongoing theme. The quote I noted down for future reference was from 11 December under “Introducing the brain; complexity: autopilot: “As I see it there is little real evidence that survival plays any role in evolution, if humans are used as an example.” At the time, this had nothing to do with the subject under discussion, and I responded: “Why you keep harping on about survival is a mystery to me, except that it is part of your Darwinphobia.” But we needn’t quibble over it, since you continue to insist, as below, that survival is not a driving force:

DAVID: To repeat: species must be designed to survive or evolutionary advances will stop. The driving force is a designer who is fully aware of the necessity of survival. I do not accept survival as a driving force, and I don't expect you to become a research scientist. Just find me a factual report that proves evolution is driven by survival. It is a Darwin concept, never proven, and I know you know that.

Nothing is proven – not even the existence of God or the theory of evolution. Why have you ignored the point I put to you earlier? If there is a God, then of course he is the driving force behind life and evolution. That is not the issue. The doer is the driving force behind the deed, and the motive is the driving force behind the doer. If you set out to make a fortune, you are the driving force behind the business, and love of money is the driving force for your creating all the elements which will make the business successful. Whatever may have been your God’s motive in starting life and evolution, the purpose, motive or driving force for creating all the individual elements (innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders) – according to your own hypothesis – was to enable the organisms to survive. If purpose or motive is not a driving force, then I really don’t know what is.

dhw: How can you reconcile common descent with “I think God creates species de novo in an evolving order” (January 16)? If he modifies existing species (= common descent), then speciation is not de novo!

DAVID: You misinterpret my use of de novo. Each species is a new species although it certainly may be a modification. It may have come from a previous form but it still is something new. I use it is the Latin sense of something new from something in the past.

dhw: …if you create something de novo, it means you create it from scratch, not that you modify something that already exists. Creationists believe that their God created each species separately, or de novo (= anew, afresh, from the beginning), whereas evolutionists believe that all species evolved out of earlier species. You are as aware of this as I am. Even with my limited knowledge of Latin, I don’t know how “de novo” can mean “from something in the past”.

DAVID: No need to argue about de novo. In Latin it is something new. Dictionaries support there usage: Roget's thesaurus : anew, afresh.

Thank you for repeating the definition I already gave you in my answer (now bolded). Absolutely nothing to do with “something from the past”, and absolutely in line with Creationism as opposed to evolution. I presume your use of the term was simply a mistake, then, and you do believe in common descent as opposed to your God creating species de novo, so we can drop it.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 26, 2019, 18:43 (83 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Twisting and turning again. I never said it [survival] played NO role in evolution.

dhw: I haven’t got time to go through all your past posts, but this has been an ongoing theme. The quote I noted down for future reference was from 11 December under “Introducing the brain; complexity: autopilot: “As I see it there is little real evidence that survival plays any role in evolution, if humans are used as an example.” At the time, this had nothing to do with the subject under discussion, and I responded: “Why you keep harping on about survival is a mystery to me, except that it is part of your Darwinphobia.” But we needn’t quibble over it, since you continue to insist, as below, that survival is not a driving force:

DAVID: To repeat: species must be designed to survive or evolutionary advances will stop. The driving force is a designer who is fully aware of the necessity of survival. I do not accept survival as a driving force, and I don't expect you to become a research scientist. Just find me a factual report that proves evolution is driven by survival. It is a Darwin concept, never proven, and I know you know that.

dhw: Nothing is proven – not even the existence of God or the theory of evolution. Why have you ignored the point I put to you earlier? If there is a God, then of course he is the driving force behind life and evolution. That is not the issue. The doer is the driving force behind the deed, and the motive is the driving force behind the doer. If you set out to make a fortune, you are the driving force behind the business, and love of money is the driving force for your creating all the elements which will make the business successful. Whatever may have been your God’s motive in starting life and evolution, the purpose, motive or driving force for creating all the individual elements (innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders) – according to your own hypothesis – was to enable the organisms to survive. If purpose or motive is not a driving force, then I really don’t know what is.

We are close together, but there is a major nuance of difference. Survival is required but does not drive evolution to force new advances in complexity. I view God as the designer with the prime purpose to create beings with consciousness. That consciousness at the human level is not required for survival is demonstrated by all the other primates. I repeat survival as a driving force is not proven and never will be. I will continue to believe in a designer with an identifiable purpose.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Sunday, January 27, 2019, 12:35 (83 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: […] Whatever may have been your God’s motive in starting life and evolution, the purpose, motive or driving force for creating all the individual elements (innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders) – according to your own hypothesis – was to enable the organisms to survive. If purpose or motive is not a driving force, then I really don’t know what is.

DAVID: We are close together, but there is a major nuance of difference. Survival is required but does not drive evolution to force new advances in complexity.

I did not say it forced advances in complexity – I do not regard fins as more complex than legs. But I believe that if the pre-whale’s legs turned into fins, that was because fins improved its chances of survival in water.

DAVID: I view God as the designer with the prime purpose to create beings with consciousness. That consciousness at the human level is not required for survival is demonstrated by all the other primates.

We have both agreed a thousand times that since bacteria have survived, NOTHING else was “required” for the survival of life itself. I don’t understand why suddenly you are confining evolution to humans. Once multicellular organisms evolved, there was diversity, and all kinds of innovations were designed (by your God or by my cell communities) to improve chances of survival – leading to all the different econiches (see below under “Neanderthal”) that existed thousands of millions of years before humans arrived.

DAVID: I repeat survival as a driving force is not proven and never will be. I will continue to believe in a designer with an identifiable purpose.

I repeat: (a) none of our hypotheses about God or about evolution are “proven”, and (b) if you think the purpose of or motive for an invention is not a driving force, then I don’t know what is. And if God exists, of course he has a purpose, but you are in no better a position than I am to identify it or to read the thoughts behind his method for achieving his purpose.

Under “Neanderthal
QUOTE: "And so we have consistently mistaken survival and extinction with biological superiority or inferiority. That is why we have incessantly sought differences to explain our observations. We are here and they are not and so we must seek differences to explain the data. (David's bold)

DAVID: […] Note my bold. Survival does not indicate natural superiority. We still do not know all the reasons for survival and therefore for evolution to newer 'better' forms. Evolution is not driven by a need for survival. On the other hand it is obvious there is a drive for evolution to proceed.

The fact that we don’t know why Neanderthals as such did not survive has absolutely nothing to do with the reason why new organs, lifestyles and natural wonders have originated throughout the history of evolution. Superiority or inferiority are not the point either. As you yourself keep emphasizing, all econiches depend on a hierarchy. For the econiche to survive, the “inferior” organisms must also survive or the “superior” ones will perish. You simply refuse to recognize the obvious fact that if innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders help organisms to survive, then survival is the obvious reason for their existence, no matter how they came into being. And it is patently absurd to say that the reason for something coming into existence is not a driving force.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Sunday, January 27, 2019, 19:44 (82 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: We are close together, but there is a major nuance of difference. Survival is required but does not drive evolution to force new advances in complexity.

dhw: I did not say it forced advances in complexity – I do not regard fins as more complex than legs. But I believe that if the pre-whale’s legs turned into fins, that was because fins improved its chances of survival in water.

It seems you have just agreed survival does not drive evolution.


dhw: I repeat: (a) none of our hypotheses about God or about evolution are “proven”, and (b) if you think the purpose of or motive for an invention is not a driving force, then I don’t know what is. And if God exists, of course he has a purpose, but you are in no better a position than I am to identify it or to read the thoughts behind his method for achieving his purpose.

I'm not reading more than He desired to create humans. And I accept His choice in evolving us.


Under “Neanderthal
QUOTE: "And so we have consistently mistaken survival and extinction with biological superiority or inferiority. That is why we have incessantly sought differences to explain our observations. We are here and they are not and so we must seek differences to explain the data. (David's bold)

DAVID: […] Note my bold. Survival does not indicate natural superiority. We still do not know all the reasons for survival and therefore for evolution to newer 'better' forms. Evolution is not driven by a need for survival. On the other hand it is obvious there is a drive for evolution to proceed.

dhw: The fact that we don’t know why Neanderthals as such did not survive has absolutely nothing to do with the reason why new organs, lifestyles and natural wonders have originated throughout the history of evolution. Superiority or inferiority are not the point either. As you yourself keep emphasizing, all econiches depend on a hierarchy. For the econiche to survive, the “inferior” organisms must also survive or the “superior” ones will perish. You simply refuse to recognize the obvious fact that if innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders help organisms to survive, then survival is the obvious reason for their existence, no matter how they came into being. And it is patently absurd to say that the reason for something coming into existence is not a driving force.

Old material. Obviously survival must occur or nothing will evolve. Of course thre is a driving force. God the designer

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Monday, January 28, 2019, 13:52 (82 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: We are close together, but there is a major nuance of difference. Survival is required but does not drive evolution to force new advances in complexity.

dhw: I did not say it forced advances in complexity – I do not regard fins as more complex than legs. But I believe that if the pre-whale’s legs turned into fins, that was because fins improved its chances of survival in water.

DAVID: It seems you have just agreed survival does not drive evolution.

How do you reach that conclusion? If the reason for legs turning into fins is to improve chances of survival, then the evolution of fins is driven by the drive to survive or to improve chances of survival!

dhw: I repeat: (a) none of our hypotheses about God or about evolution are “proven”, and (b) if you think the purpose of or motive for an invention is not a driving force, then I don’t know what is. And if God exists, of course he has a purpose, but you are in no better a position than I am to identify it or to read the thoughts behind his method for achieving his purpose.

DAVID: I'm not reading more than He desired to create humans. And I accept His choice in evolving us.

You keep telling us that his desire to create humans was his one and only purpose, and his method was to spend 3.5+ billion years not creating humans. You “accept” that he follows your own non-logic. And you still haven’t told me why you think the motive or purpose for doing something is not a driving force.

dhw: The fact that we don’t know why Neanderthals as such did not survive has absolutely nothing to do with the reason why new organs, lifestyles and natural wonders have originated throughout the history of evolution. Superiority or inferiority are not the point either. As you yourself keep emphasizing, all econiches depend on a hierarchy. For the econiche to survive, the “inferior” organisms must also survive or the “superior” ones will perish. You simply refuse to recognize the obvious fact that if innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders help organisms to survive, then survival is the obvious reason for their existence, no matter how they came into being. And it is patently absurd to say that the reason for something coming into existence is not a driving force.

DAVID: Old material. Obviously survival must occur or nothing will evolve. Of course thre is a driving force. God the designer.

And you persist in ignoring the point that I keep making over and over again: yes, if God exists he must have created life and evolution and in that sense he is the driving force. But the purpose of means of survival is to enable organisms to survive, so even if he designed every single one, their purpose was survival. Now please tell us at last why you think the purpose or motive for designing something is not a driving force.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Monday, January 28, 2019, 14:39 (82 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: I repeat: (a) none of our hypotheses about God or about evolution are “proven”, and (b) if you think the purpose of or motive for an invention is not a driving force, then I don’t know what is. And if God exists, of course he has a purpose, but you are in no better a position than I am to identify it or to read the thoughts behind his method for achieving his purpose.

DAVID: I'm not reading more than He desired to create humans. And I accept His choice in evolving us.

dhw: You keep telling us that his desire to create humans was his one and only purpose, and his method was to spend 3.5+ billion years not creating humans. You “accept” that he follows your own non-logic. And you still haven’t told me why you think the motive or purpose for doing something is not a driving force.

I have accepted that God's purpose or motive was to evolve human beings. That is a driving force from my viewpoint.


dhw: The fact that we don’t know why Neanderthals as such did not survive has absolutely nothing to do with the reason why new organs, lifestyles and natural wonders have originated throughout the history of evolution. Superiority or inferiority are not the point either. As you yourself keep emphasizing, all econiches depend on a hierarchy. For the econiche to survive, the “inferior” organisms must also survive or the “superior” ones will perish. You simply refuse to recognize the obvious fact that if innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders help organisms to survive, then survival is the obvious reason for their existence, no matter how they came into being. And it is patently absurd to say that the reason for something coming into existence is not a driving force.

DAVID: Old material. Obviously survival must occur or nothing will evolve. Of course thre is a driving force. God the designer.

dhw: And you persist in ignoring the point that I keep making over and over again: yes, if God exists he must have created life and evolution and in that sense he is the driving force. But the purpose of means of survival is to enable organisms to survive, so even if he designed every single one, their purpose was survival. Now please tell us at last why you think the purpose or motive for designing something is not a driving force.


And you persist in not recognizing that evolution is a process that would grind to a halt unless the ability to survive is built into each successive level of new organisms.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Tuesday, January 29, 2019, 13:58 (81 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You keep telling us that his desire to create humans was his one and only purpose, and his method was to spend 3.5+ billion years not creating humans. You “accept” that he follows your own non-logic. And you still haven’t told me why you think the motive or purpose for doing something is not a driving force.

DAVID: I have accepted that God's purpose or motive was to evolve human beings. That is a driving force from my viewpoint.

You have not “accepted” it, you believe it, but if it’s true, then of course that would be a driving force. But according to you, his purpose or motive in designing whale fins, cuttlefish camouflage and the monarch’s flight path was to enable them to survive so life could go on for 3.5+ billion years until he could design the only thing he wanted to design. Whatever may be the purpose or motive for doing something is its driving force. Once again, if God exists, he is the driving force behind life and evolution, and his wish to enable organisms to survive is the driving force behind what you believe to be the special designs that enable them to do so.

dhw: […] you persist in ignoring the point that I keep making over and over again: yes, if God exists he must have created life and evolution and in that sense he is the driving force. But the purpose of means of survival is to enable organisms to survive, so even if he designed every single one, their purpose was survival. […]

DAVID: And you persist in not recognizing that evolution is a process that would grind to a halt unless the ability to survive is built into each successive level of new organisms.

Of course I recognize that evolution would have ended if new organisms had not survived! How does that come to mean that the purpose or motive behind each individual evolutionary change was not survival? And how does that lead to your conclusion that the purpose or motive for change is not a driving force?

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 29, 2019, 17:36 (80 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: You keep telling us that his desire to create humans was his one and only purpose, and his method was to spend 3.5+ billion years not creating humans. You “accept” that he follows your own non-logic. And you still haven’t told me why you think the motive or purpose for doing something is not a driving force.

DAVID: I have accepted that God's purpose or motive was to evolve human beings. That is a driving force from my viewpoint.

dhw: You have not “accepted” it, you believe it, but if it’s true, then of course that would be a driving force. But according to you, his purpose or motive in designing whale fins, cuttlefish camouflage and the monarch’s flight path was to enable them to survive so life could go on for 3.5+ billion years until he could design the only thing he wanted to design. Whatever may be the purpose or motive for doing something is its driving force. Once again, if God exists, he is the driving force behind life and evolution, and his wish to enable organisms to survive is the driving force behind what you believe to be the special designs that enable them to do so.

It seems you are understanding what I believe. It is not illogical.


dhw: […] you persist in ignoring the point that I keep making over and over again: yes, if God exists he must have created life and evolution and in that sense he is the driving force. But the purpose of means of survival is to enable organisms to survive, so even if he designed every single one, their purpose was survival. […]

DAVID: And you persist in not recognizing that evolution is a process that would grind to a halt unless the ability to survive is built into each successive level of new organisms.

dhw: Of course I recognize that evolution would have ended if new organisms had not survived! How does that come to mean that the purpose or motive behind each individual evolutionary change was not survival? And how does that lead to your conclusion that the purpose or motive for change is not a driving force?

The driving force is God using evolution to create humans. Survival is simply a secondary requirement as you admit.

Human evolution; how our eyes see light-dark contrast

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 29, 2019, 23:06 (80 days ago) @ David Turell

By little unnoticed movements:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/we-see-contrast-because-our-eyes-are-always-moving

"Contrast sensitivity function – which is different to visual acuity – is the minimum amount of light and dark that we need to see to detect an object or pattern.

"Until now, researchers have thought that seeing contrast relies on eye optics and brain processing. However, a new study, published in the journal eLife, reveals that tiny eye movements play a critical role.

“'Historically these eye movements have been pretty much ignored,” says Michele Rucci, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester in the US. “But what seems to be happening is that they are contributing to vision in a number of different ways, including contrast sensitivity function.”

"If we fix our eyes on a single point, the world may appear still. But microscopically, our eyes are always moving – known as “fixational eye movements”. Without these movements continually refreshing visual input to the retina, an image can fade from view.

"To test the role of eye movements in detecting contrast, the researchers showed five females aged 21-31 with normal vision gratings with black and white stripes, making them progressively thinner – known as spatial frequency – until volunteers could no longer see separate bars.

"When they simulated the task in a computer model of the retina and associated neurons, the researchers found that contrast sensitivity was only achieved when they included the eye movements.

“'When we don’t include this movement factor in the computer model, the simulated neurons don’t give the same responses that the subjects do,” says Rucci.

"It’s a bit like the system involved in our sense of touch, explains lead author Antonino Casile from the Italian Institute of Technology.

"To feel the texture of a surface, it is not enough to just touch it – we also need to move our fingers along the object. We process information from the interaction between our fingertips’ tactile sensors and movement.

'Similarly, contrast sensitivity results from the interaction between the sensory process in the brain’s visual system and the motor process of eye movement, Casile says.

"The findings, write the authors, “are highly robust, bear multiple consequences, and lead to important predictions”.

“'Vision isn’t just taking an image and processing it via neurons,” says Rucci. “The visual system uses an active scheme to extract and code information. We see because our eyes are always moving, even if we don’t know it.'”

Comment: I'm sure previous ancestors have this same ability long before humans arrived. I am aware that my eyes are constantly moving, if only to keep them moist. but I never noticed tiny changes As described.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Wednesday, January 30, 2019, 13:17 (80 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I have accepted that God's purpose or motive was to evolve human beings. That is a driving force from my viewpoint.

dhw: You have not “accepted” it, you believe it, but if it’s true, then of course that would be a driving force. But according to you, his purpose or motive in designing whale fins, cuttlefish camouflage and the monarch’s flight path was to enable them to survive so life could go on for 3.5+ billion years until he could design the only thing he wanted to design. Whatever may be the purpose or motive for doing something is its driving force. Once again, if God exists, he is the driving force behind life and evolution, and his wish to enable organisms to survive is the driving force behind what you believe to be the special designs that enable them to do so.

DAVID: It seems you are understanding what I believe. It is not illogical.

No it’s not. It is totally logical that the doer is the driving force behind the action, and the purpose is the driving force behind the doer. The purpose of fins, camouflage and migration is survival, and it is therefore illogical to say that survival is not a driving force in evolution. Thank you. Your other illogicality is dealt with on the “Big brain” thread.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 30, 2019, 17:26 (79 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I have accepted that God's purpose or motive was to evolve human beings. That is a driving force from my viewpoint.

dhw: You have not “accepted” it, you believe it, but if it’s true, then of course that would be a driving force. But according to you, his purpose or motive in designing whale fins, cuttlefish camouflage and the monarch’s flight path was to enable them to survive so life could go on for 3.5+ billion years until he could design the only thing he wanted to design. Whatever may be the purpose or motive for doing something is its driving force. Once again, if God exists, he is the driving force behind life and evolution, and his wish to enable organisms to survive is the driving force behind what you believe to be the special designs that enable them to do so.

DAVID: It seems you are understanding what I believe. It is not illogical.

dhw: No it’s not. It is totally logical that the doer is the driving force behind the action, and the purpose is the driving force behind the doer. The purpose of fins, camouflage and migration is survival, and it is therefore illogical to say that survival is not a driving force in evolution. Thank you. Your other illogicality is dealt with on the “Big brain” thread.

You have the argument totally backward. I accept that God is the doer and He wants to evolve humans. Survival has to be designed into each stage or evolution stops. Survival is required but the driver is God. It is illogical to you because you do not see the driving mechanism as I do.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Thursday, January 31, 2019, 12:19 (79 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: […] if God exists, he is the driving force behind life and evolution, and his wish to enable organisms to survive is the driving force behind what you believe to be the special designs that enable them to do so.

DAVID: It seems you are understanding what I believe. It is not illogical.

dhw: No it’s not. It is totally logical that the doer is the driving force behind the action, and the purpose is the driving force behind the doer. The purpose of fins, camouflage and migration is survival, and it is therefore illogical to say that survival is not a driving force in evolution. Thank you. Your other illogicality is dealt with on the “Big brain” thread.

DAVID: You have the argument totally backward. I accept that God is the doer and He wants to evolve humans.

Not “accept”. These are your beliefs. For argument’s sake, I am accepting God’s existence, but a) questioning your belief that his sole purpose was to produce H. sapiens (see “Big brain evolution”), and on this thread b) questioning your belief that survival is not a driving force in the process of evolution.

DAVID: Survival has to be designed into each stage or evolution stops. Survival is required but the driver is God. It is illogical to you because you do not see the driving mechanism as I do.

Of course life has to survive or it stops. Once more: I see TWO driving mechanisms in your scenario: 1) Your God as the creator is the driving force behind life and evolution. 2) The reason for his designing all the innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders is to ensure that life SURVIVES. The reason for doing something is a driving force. Concrete example: if, as you believe, your God designed pre-whale fins, the reason for his doing so was to enable the pre-whale to improve its chances of survival in the water. How can you possibly argue that the reason for doing something is not a driving force?

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 31, 2019, 14:54 (79 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: […] if God exists, he is the driving force behind life and evolution, and his wish to enable organisms to survive is the driving force behind what you believe to be the special designs that enable them to do so.

DAVID: It seems you are understanding what I believe. It is not illogical.

dhw: No it’s not. It is totally logical that the doer is the driving force behind the action, and the purpose is the driving force behind the doer. The purpose of fins, camouflage and migration is survival, and it is therefore illogical to say that survival is not a driving force in evolution. Thank you. Your other illogicality is dealt with on the “Big brain” thread.

DAVID: You have the argument totally backward. I accept that God is the doer and He wants to evolve humans.

Not “accept”. These are your beliefs. For argument’s sake, I am accepting God’s existence, but a) questioning your belief that his sole purpose was to produce H. sapiens (see “Big brain evolution”), and on this thread b) questioning your belief that survival is not a driving force in the process of evolution.

DAVID: Survival has to be designed into each stage or evolution stops. Survival is required but the driver is God. It is illogical to you because you do not see the driving mechanism as I do.

dhw: Of course life has to survive or it stops. Once more: I see TWO driving mechanisms in your scenario: 1) Your God as the creator is the driving force behind life and evolution. 2) The reason for his designing all the innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders is to ensure that life SURVIVES. The reason for doing something is a driving force. Concrete example: if, as you believe, your God designed pre-whale fins, the reason for his doing so was to enable the pre-whale to improve its chances of survival in the water. How can you possibly argue that the reason for doing something is not a driving force?

Wrong nuance of meaning. When you drive your ancient VW you are careful not to crash. That is caution about necessary survival. God drives evolution with the same caution about survival of the organism s created.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Friday, February 01, 2019, 13:57 (78 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Of course life has to survive or it stops. Once more: I see TWO driving mechanisms in your scenario: 1) Your God as the creator is the driving force behind life and evolution. 2) The reason for his designing all the innovations, lifestyles and natural wonders is to ensure that life SURVIVES. The reason for doing something is a driving force. Concrete example: if, as you believe, your God designed pre-whale fins, the reason for his doing so was to enable the pre-whale to improve its chances of survival in the water. How can you possibly argue that the reason for doing something is not a driving force?

DAVID: Wrong nuance of meaning. When you drive your ancient VW you are careful not to crash. That is caution about necessary survival. God drives evolution with the same caution about survival of the organism s created.

I don’t think this image helps us very much, but hey ho. The driving force behind the design of brakes, lights, windscreen wipers, seat belts etc. was to improve my chances of survival (and those of other drivers, pedestrians etc.) as I go hurtling along through streets, traffic, darkness, rain and snow. Meanwhile, back to your hypothesis, in which the driving force behind your God’s design of fins, camouflage and migration routes was to improve survival chances for whales, cuttlefish and monarch butterflies, just as apparently he designed my late wife’s pelvis, my hunter’s/escaper’s legs, and now even our skin colour (see below) to improve our chances of survival. Yes, if your God exists he is the driving force behind life and evolution. But why do you refuse to acknowledge that the purpose behind a design is also a driving force?

Under “skin color
QUOTES: "Why is folate so important? The nutrient plays a role in DNA activities, but its major impact is on evolutionary fitness — one’s ability to survive and reproduce — through fetal development.

"[..] vitamin D became a problem. Like folate, this vitamin is important for evolutionary fitness. It facilitates absorption of calcium, necessary for healthy bones and immunity.

"A range of skin colors evolved at different times, in different populations, as human spread across the globe. In addition to these genetic biological changes, groups have also developed cultural adaptations to deal with variable sunlight. For instance, we can consume diets rich in folate and vitamin D. We can also build shelters, wear clothing and slather sunscreen to block UV rays."

All of which make it crystal clear that the purpose is survival. The driving force behind our building of shelters, our clothes and our sunscreen is our desire to improve our chances of survival, and likewise the driving force behind variations of skin colors.

DAVID: These studies certainly appear to explain why our species adapted light or dark skin. Since folate is so important to reproduction, I would suspect it was more of a driving force than Vitamin D in producing this adaptation. (dhw’s bold)

And so the requirement for folate to aid reproduction was a “driving force”. Just like the requirement for fins to aid swimming etc. etc. Crystal clear again.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Friday, February 01, 2019, 14:44 (78 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Wrong nuance of meaning. When you drive your ancient VW you are careful not to crash. That is caution about necessary survival. God drives evolution with the same caution about survival of the organism s created.

dhw: I don’t think this image helps us very much, but hey ho. The driving force behind the design of brakes, lights, windscreen wipers, seat belts etc. was to improve my chances of survival (and those of other drivers, pedestrians etc.) as I go hurtling along through streets, traffic, darkness, rain and snow. Meanwhile, back to your hypothesis, in which the driving force behind your God’s design of fins, camouflage and migration routes was to improve survival chances for whales, cuttlefish and monarch butterflies, just as apparently he designed my late wife’s pelvis, my hunter’s/escaper’s legs, and now even our skin colour (see below) to improve our chances of survival. Yes, if your God exists he is the driving force behind life and evolution. But why do you refuse to acknowledge that the purpose behind a design is also a driving force?

Because I view God as the driver, and survival a secondary requirement since evolving organisms must survive for each advance to occur. Again a difference in nuance.


dhw: Under “skin color
QUOTES: "Why is folate so important? The nutrient plays a role in DNA activities, but its major impact is on evolutionary fitness — one’s ability to survive and reproduce — through fetal development.

"[..] vitamin D became a problem. Like folate, this vitamin is important for evolutionary fitness. It facilitates absorption of calcium, necessary for healthy bones and immunity.

"A range of skin colors evolved at different times, in different populations, as human spread across the globe. In addition to these genetic biological changes, groups have also developed cultural adaptations to deal with variable sunlight. For instance, we can consume diets rich in folate and vitamin D. We can also build shelters, wear clothing and slather sunscreen to block UV rays."

dhw: All of which make it crystal clear that the purpose is survival. The driving force behind our building of shelters, our clothes and our sunscreen is our desire to improve our chances of survival, and likewise the driving force behind variations of skin colors.

DAVID: These studies certainly appear to explain why our species adapted light or dark skin. Since folate is so important to reproduction, I would suspect it was more of a driving force than Vitamin D in producing this adaptation. (dhw’s bold)

dhw: And so the requirement for folate to aid reproduction was a “driving force”. Just like the requirement for fins to aid swimming etc. etc. Crystal clear again.

Immediate driving forces are part of the pattern of survival for the overall purpose of evolution to the goal, humans. Crystal clear.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Saturday, February 02, 2019, 14:21 (77 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Yes, if your God exists he is the driving force behind life and evolution. But why do you refuse to acknowledge that the purpose behind a design is also a driving force?

DAVID: Because I view God as the driver, and survival a secondary requirement since evolving organisms must survive for each advance to occur. Again a difference in nuance.

DAVID (re skin colour): These studies certainly appear to explain why our species adapted light or dark skin. Since folate is so important to reproduction, I would suspect it was more of a driving force than Vitamin D in producing this adaptation. (dhw’s bold)

dhw: And so the requirement for folate to aid reproduction was a “driving force”. Just like the requirement for fins to aid swimming etc. etc. Crystal clear again.

DAVID: Immediate driving forces are part of the pattern of survival for the overall purpose of evolution to the goal, humans. Crystal clear.

So you agree that the driving force for your God’s design of fins, camouflage and patterns of migration was survival, but God’s one and only purpose in designing all of these was to enable them to eat and be eaten (to survive or not to survive) until he could design humans, which apparently means that survival is a driving force but is not a driving force.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Saturday, February 02, 2019, 18:47 (76 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: Yes, if your God exists he is the driving force behind life and evolution. But why do you refuse to acknowledge that the purpose behind a design is also a driving force?

DAVID: Because I view God as the driver, and survival a secondary requirement since evolving organisms must survive for each advance to occur. Again a difference in nuance.

DAVID (re skin colour): These studies certainly appear to explain why our species adapted light or dark skin. Since folate is so important to reproduction, I would suspect it was more of a driving force than Vitamin D in producing this adaptation. (dhw’s bold)

dhw: And so the requirement for folate to aid reproduction was a “driving force”. Just like the requirement for fins to aid swimming etc. etc. Crystal clear again.

DAVID: Immediate driving forces are part of the pattern of survival for the overall purpose of evolution to the goal, humans. Crystal clear.

dhw: So you agree that the driving force for your God’s design of fins, camouflage and patterns of migration was survival, but God’s one and only purpose in designing all of these was to enable them to eat and be eaten (to survive or not to survive) until he could design humans, which apparently means that survival is a driving force but is not a driving force.

Quibbling again. Survival is a secondary requirement for evolution to continue to its goal

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Sunday, February 03, 2019, 10:14 (76 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID (re skin colour): These studies certainly appear to explain why our species adapted light or dark skin. Since folate is so important to reproduction, I would suspect it was more of a driving force than Vitamin D in producing this adaptation. (dhw’s bold)

dhw: And so the requirement for folate to aid reproduction was a “driving force”. Just like the requirement for fins to aid swimming etc. etc. Crystal clear again.

DAVID: Immediate driving forces are part of the pattern of survival for the overall purpose of evolution to the goal, humans. Crystal clear.

dhw: So you agree that the driving force for your God’s design of fins, camouflage and patterns of migration was survival, but God’s one and only purpose in designing all of these was to enable them to eat and be eaten (to survive or not to survive) until he could design humans, which apparently means that survival is a driving force but is not a driving force.

DAVID: Quibbling again. Survival is a secondary requirement for evolution to continue to its goal.

Sorry, but the quibble is entirely yours. If organisms don’t survive, there is no evolution, and an immediate driving force is a driving force.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Sunday, February 03, 2019, 14:50 (76 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID (re skin colour): These studies certainly appear to explain why our species adapted light or dark skin. Since folate is so important to reproduction, I would suspect it was more of a driving force than Vitamin D in producing this adaptation. (dhw’s bold)

dhw: And so the requirement for folate to aid reproduction was a “driving force”. Just like the requirement for fins to aid swimming etc. etc. Crystal clear again.

DAVID: Immediate driving forces are part of the pattern of survival for the overall purpose of evolution to the goal, humans. Crystal clear.

dhw: So you agree that the driving force for your God’s design of fins, camouflage and patterns of migration was survival, but God’s one and only purpose in designing all of these was to enable them to eat and be eaten (to survive or not to survive) until he could design humans, which apparently means that survival is a driving force but is not a driving force.

DAVID: Quibbling again. Survival is a secondary requirement for evolution to continue to its goal.

dhw: Sorry, but the quibble is entirely yours. If organisms don’t survive, there is no evolution, and an immediate driving force is a driving force.

I will continue to view survival as a requirement of design driven evolution.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Monday, February 04, 2019, 13:15 (75 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID (re skin colour): These studies certainly appear to explain why our species adapted light or dark skin. Since folate is so important to reproduction, I would suspect it was more of a driving force than Vitamin D in producing this adaptation. (dhw’s bold)

dhw: And so the requirement for folate to aid reproduction was a “driving force”. Just like the requirement for fins to aid swimming etc. etc. Crystal clear again.

DAVID: Immediate driving forces are part of the pattern of survival for the overall purpose of evolution to the goal, humans. Crystal clear.

dhw: So you agree that the driving force for your God’s design of fins, camouflage and patterns of migration was survival, but God’s one and only purpose in designing all of these was to enable them to eat and be eaten (to survive or not to survive) until he could design humans, which apparently means that survival is a driving force but is not a driving force.

DAVID: Quibbling again. Survival is a secondary requirement for evolution to continue to its goal.

dhw: Sorry, but the quibble is entirely yours. If organisms don’t survive, there is no evolution, and an immediate driving force is a driving force.

DAVID: I will continue to view survival as a requirement of design driven evolution.

Of course. You can’t have evolution without survival. I’m afraid that does not mean an immediate driving force is not a driving force. Why don’t we leave it at that?

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Monday, February 04, 2019, 15:22 (75 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID (re skin colour): These studies certainly appear to explain why our species adapted light or dark skin. Since folate is so important to reproduction, I would suspect it was more of a driving force than Vitamin D in producing this adaptation. (dhw’s bold)

dhw: And so the requirement for folate to aid reproduction was a “driving force”. Just like the requirement for fins to aid swimming etc. etc. Crystal clear again.

DAVID: Immediate driving forces are part of the pattern of survival for the overall purpose of evolution to the goal, humans. Crystal clear.

dhw: So you agree that the driving force for your God’s design of fins, camouflage and patterns of migration was survival, but God’s one and only purpose in designing all of these was to enable them to eat and be eaten (to survive or not to survive) until he could design humans, which apparently means that survival is a driving force but is not a driving force.

DAVID: Quibbling again. Survival is a secondary requirement for evolution to continue to its goal.

dhw: Sorry, but the quibble is entirely yours. If organisms don’t survive, there is no evolution, and an immediate driving force is a driving force.

DAVID: I will continue to view survival as a requirement of design driven evolution.

dhw: Of course. You can’t have evolution without survival. I’m afraid that does not mean an immediate driving force is not a driving force. Why don’t we leave it at that?

Fine. you still don't accept a designer.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by dhw, Tuesday, February 05, 2019, 08:59 (74 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Immediate driving forces are part of the pattern of survival for the overall purpose of evolution to the goal, humans. Crystal clear.

dhw: So you agree that the driving force for your God’s design of fins, camouflage and patterns of migration was survival, but God’s one and only purpose in designing all of these was to enable them to eat and be eaten (to survive or not to survive) until he could design humans, which apparently means that survival is a driving force but is not a driving force.

DAVID: Quibbling again. Survival is a secondary requirement for evolution to continue to its goal.

dhw: Sorry, but the quibble is entirely yours. If organisms don’t survive, there is no evolution, and an immediate driving force is a driving force.

DAVID: I will continue to view survival as a requirement of design driven evolution.

dhw: Of course. You can’t have evolution without survival. I’m afraid that does not mean an immediate driving force is not a driving force. Why don’t we leave it at that?

DAVID: Fine. you still don't accept a designer.

I will keep your agreement for future reference, in case you bring up “survival” again as an issue. My agnostic non-acceptance/non-rejection of a designer is irrelevant.

Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism

by David Turell @, Tuesday, February 05, 2019, 15:26 (74 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Immediate driving forces are part of the pattern of survival for the overall purpose of evolution to the goal, humans. Crystal clear.

dhw: So you agree that the driving force for your God’s design of fins, camouflage and patterns of migration was survival, but God’s one and only purpose in designing all of these was to enable them to eat and be eaten (to survive or not to survive) until he could design humans, which apparently means that survival is a driving force but is not a driving force.

DAVID: Quibbling again. Survival is a secondary requirement for evolution to continue to its goal.

dhw: Sorry, but the quibble is entirely yours. If organisms don’t survive, there is no evolution, and an immediate driving force is a driving force.

DAVID: I will continue to view survival as a requirement of design driven evolution.

dhw: Of course. You can’t have evolution without survival. I’m afraid that does not mean an immediate driving force is not a driving force. Why don’t we leave it at that?

DAVID: Fine. you still don't accept a designer.

I will keep your agreement for future reference, in case you bring up “survival” again as an issue. My agnostic non-acceptance/non-rejection of a designer is irrelevant.

Yes, we will agree to disagree into the future.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Friday, December 07, 2018, 13:45 (134 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: According to you, your God caused the BB, and so he existed before the BB. Before, now and after are one concept of time. Nobody can possibly prove anything about what happened before the BB (if it happened). I agree that one cause is simpler than two causes. The one cause may be an eternal and infinite universe of energy and matter constantly changing itself. No, I don’t believe it, and I don’t disbelieve it, just as I don’t believe or disbelieve in a single, conscious, sourceless, eternal mind. Maybe the complex evolutionary process was created (top down), or maybe it evolved (bottom up).

DAVID: All I presented has appeared here before. If bottom up, from what, and what pushed it to evolve?

dhw: Yes, we have discussed it many times. Bottom up from eternally changing combinations of materials. But I can't tell you how they might have acquired the basic consciousness to form life, any more than you can tell me how a sourceless, universal, conscious mind can simply have been there for ever. Two first cause hypotheses that are as inexplicable as each other. Enough to make a thinker embrace agnosticism!

DAVID: Not if one tries to explain the complex designs in living forms.

dhw: I accept that as a good reason for your faith – but you have always acknowledged that it requires faith and not reason to accept one mystery as the answer to another.

DAVID: Reasoning about the need for a designer is strong enough to lead to faith. In my mind there must be a designer. The complex living biology I see and understand with my medical training requires that conclusion. You and I have different backgrounds, which may explain our different positions.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with background – unless you now wish to claim that every doctor, biologist, biochemist etc. shares your faith. I don’t know how often I have to repeat that I accept the design argument as good reason for faith, and it is one of two major influences (along with psychic experiences) that leave me open to the possibility of a God. But in all these discussions you simply refuse to acknowledge the reason why I myself cannot take that leap of faith, as bolded above.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Friday, December 07, 2018, 21:14 (133 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: According to you, your God caused the BB, and so he existed before the BB. Before, now and after are one concept of time. Nobody can possibly prove anything about what happened before the BB (if it happened). I agree that one cause is simpler than two causes. The one cause may be an eternal and infinite universe of energy and matter constantly changing itself. No, I don’t believe it, and I don’t disbelieve it, just as I don’t believe or disbelieve in a single, conscious, sourceless, eternal mind. Maybe the complex evolutionary process was created (top down), or maybe it evolved (bottom up).

DAVID: All I presented has appeared here before. If bottom up, from what, and what pushed it to evolve?

dhw: Yes, we have discussed it many times. Bottom up from eternally changing combinations of materials. But I can't tell you how they might have acquired the basic consciousness to form life, any more than you can tell me how a sourceless, universal, conscious mind can simply have been there for ever. Two first cause hypotheses that are as inexplicable as each other. Enough to make a thinker embrace agnosticism!

DAVID: Not if one tries to explain the complex designs in living forms.

dhw: I accept that as a good reason for your faith – but you have always acknowledged that it requires faith and not reason to accept one mystery as the answer to another.

DAVID: Reasoning about the need for a designer is strong enough to lead to faith. In my mind there must be a designer. The complex living biology I see and understand with my medical training requires that conclusion. You and I have different backgrounds, which may explain our different positions.

dhw: It has nothing whatsoever to do with background – unless you now wish to claim that every doctor, biologist, biochemist etc. shares your faith. I don’t know how often I have to repeat that I accept the design argument as good reason for faith, and it is one of two major influences (along with psychic experiences) that leave me open to the possibility of a God. But in all these discussions you simply refuse to acknowledge the reason why I myself cannot take that leap of faith, as bolded above.

A survey, a number of years ago, found 40% of physicians are believers. I acknowledge your problem.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by dhw, Saturday, December 08, 2018, 10:09 (133 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Reasoning about the need for a designer is strong enough to lead to faith. In my mind there must be a designer. The complex living biology I see and understand with my medical training requires that conclusion. You and I have different backgrounds, which may explain our different positions.

dhw: It has nothing whatsoever to do with background – unless you now wish to claim that every doctor, biologist, biochemist etc. shares your faith. I don’t know how often I have to repeat that I accept the design argument as good reason for faith, and it is one of two major influences (along with psychic experiences) that leave me open to the possibility of a God. But in all these discussions you simply refuse to acknowledge the reason why I myself cannot take that leap of faith. [...]

DAVID: A survey, a number of years ago, found 40% of physicians are believers. I acknowledge your problem.

Thank you. I wonder how many of the remaining 60% are atheists and how many are agnostics.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 08, 2018, 22:14 (132 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Reasoning about the need for a designer is strong enough to lead to faith. In my mind there must be a designer. The complex living biology I see and understand with my medical training requires that conclusion. You and I have different backgrounds, which may explain our different positions.

dhw: It has nothing whatsoever to do with background – unless you now wish to claim that every doctor, biologist, biochemist etc. shares your faith. I don’t know how often I have to repeat that I accept the design argument as good reason for faith, and it is one of two major influences (along with psychic experiences) that leave me open to the possibility of a God. But in all these discussions you simply refuse to acknowledge the reason why I myself cannot take that leap of faith. [...]

DAVID: A survey, a number of years ago, found 40% of physicians are believers. I acknowledge your problem.

dhw: Thank you. I wonder how many of the remaining 60% are atheists and how many are agnostics.

Have no idea

Human evolution; a gene for primate brains

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 09, 2018, 00:32 (132 days ago) @ David Turell

Found in a new study. Our brains are different than other mammals:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181206120047.htm

"University of Otago researchers have discovered information about a gene that sets primates -- great apes and humans -- apart from other mammals, through the study of a rare developmental brain disorder.

"Dr Adam O'Neill carried out the research as part of his PhD at the University of Otago, under the supervision of Professor Stephen Robertson, discovering that the PLEKHG6 gene has qualities that drives aspects of brain development differently in primates compared to other species.

"'Broadly speaking, this gene can be thought of as one of the genetic factors that make us human in a neurological sense,"...

***

"Their results showed that the particular genetic change that disabled a component of this gene (PLEKHG6) altered its ability to support the growth and proliferation of specialised stem cells in the developing brain. In addition, some of these cells also failed to migrate to their correct position in the growing "mini-brain" during the first few weeks of brain development.

"Professor Robertson says it has been known for a while that these stem cells behave differently between primates/humans and other animals, but understanding what genes regulate these differences has been a mystery.

"Adam's achievement has been to show that this particular component of the PLEKHG6 gene is one such regulator that humans have 'acquired' very recently in their evolution to make their brains 'exceptional'."

"Dr O'Neill says there are very few genetic elements that are primate specific in our genome, so this discovery adds to a very short list of genetic factors that, at least in one sense, make us human."

Comment: A lucky chance break? If that is the case all of the preparatory steps to reach the point where primates could appear are lucky contingencies. Doubtful.

Human evolution; a gene for primate brains

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 17:52 (129 days ago) @ David Turell

Found in a new study. Our brains are different than other mammals:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181206120047.htm

"University of Otago researchers have discovered information about a gene that sets primates -- great apes and humans -- apart from other mammals, through the study of a rare developmental brain disorder.

"Dr Adam O'Neill carried out the research as part of his PhD at the University of Otago, under the supervision of Professor Stephen Robertson, discovering that the PLEKHG6 gene has qualities that drives aspects of brain development differently in primates compared to other species.

"'Broadly speaking, this gene can be thought of as one of the genetic factors that make us human in a neurological sense,"...

***

"Their results showed that the particular genetic change that disabled a component of this gene (PLEKHG6) altered its ability to support the growth and proliferation of specialised stem cells in the developing brain. In addition, some of these cells also failed to migrate to their correct position in the growing "mini-brain" during the first few weeks of brain development.

"Professor Robertson says it has been known for a while that these stem cells behave differently between primates/humans and other animals, but understanding what genes regulate these differences has been a mystery.

"Adam's achievement has been to show that this particular component of the PLEKHG6 gene is one such regulator that humans have 'acquired' very recently in their evolution to make their brains 'exceptional'."

"Dr O'Neill says there are very few genetic elements that are primate specific in our genome, so this discovery adds to a very short list of genetic factors that, at least in one sense, make us human."

Comment: A lucky chance break? If that is the case all of the preparatory steps to reach the point where primates could appear are lucky contingencies. Doubtful.

The original paper summary:

The mammalian neocortex has undergone remarkable changes through evolution. A consequence of
such rapid evolutionary events could be a trade-off that has rendered the brain susceptible to certain neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric conditions. We analyzed the exomes of 65 patients with the structural brain malformation periventricular nodular heterotopia (PH). De novo coding variants were observed in excess in genes defining a transcriptomic signature of basal radial glia, a cell type linked to brain evolution. In addition, we located two variants in human isoforms of two genes that have no ortholog in mice. Modulating the levels of one of these isoforms for the gene PLEKHG6 demonstrated its role in regulating neuroprogenitor differentiation and neuronal migration via RhoA, with phenotypic recapitulation of PH in human cerebral organoids. This suggests that this PLEKHG6 isoform is an example of a primate-specific genomic element supporting brain development.

https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/pdf/S2211-1247(18)31775-3.pdf

Human evolution; theory of hominin language

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 13, 2018, 14:37 (128 days ago) @ David Turell

This much seems well established but how actual language started is still problematic:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2018/12/07/where-does-language-come-from/#.XBJqq...

"There are at least three elements of language only present in hominins:
First, is a fine-control over our vocal tracts. Other apes are likely born with a more limited repertoire of vocalizations. The difference comes down to how our brains are wired: Humans have direct connections between the neurons controlling our voice box and the motor cortex, the region of our brain responsible for voluntary movements. Brain scans show these connections are lacking in other primates. (my bold)

"Next is our tendency to communicate for the sake of communicating. To encapsulate this, biologist Fitch used the German word Mitteilungsbedürfnis, “the drive to share thoughts.” Whereas chimps use a finite set of calls and gestures to convey the essentials — food, sex and danger — humans talk to bond and exchange ideas, and strive to ensure we’re understood. Most researchers attribute this difference to an idea called “theory of mind,” the understanding that others have thoughts. Chimps demonstrate more limited theory of mind, whereas humans know that other humans think things — and we’re constantly using language to uncover and influence those thoughts.

"The last difference is hierarchical syntax. Phrases and sentences have nested structure and these provide meaning beyond the simple sequence of words. For instance, take the sentence: “Chad, who was out to lunch with Tony, was late to the meeting.” Hierarchical syntax processing allows us to correctly interpret that Chad was late to the meeting, even though “Tony” is closer to the verb “was late.” Over 60 years ago and still today, linguist Noam Chomsky proposed hierarchical syntax as the key to language.

"So hypotheses for language origins must explain (at least) these three traits: precise vocal learning and control, overtly social communication and hierarchical syntax."

Comment: Note my bold. We are physically wired differently. This describes the basics, beyond this is pure unestablished sets of theories. We are different in kind.

Human evolution; theory of hominin language

by dhw, Friday, December 14, 2018, 10:37 (127 days ago) @ David Turell

"There are at least three elements of language only present in hominins:
First, is a fine-control over our vocal tracts. Other apes are likely born with a more limited repertoire of vocalizations. The difference comes down to how our brains are wired: Humans have direct connections between the neurons controlling our voice box and the motor cortex, the region of our brain responsible for voluntary movements. Brain scans show these connections are lacking in other primates.
(David's bold)

DAVID: Note my bold. We are physically wired differently. This describes the basics, beyond this is pure unestablished sets of theories. We are different in kind.

I really don’t think there are many people who would say that we are exactly the same as our fellow primates, and I doubt if many people would say that elephants are the same “kind” as whales or ants or the duckbilled platypus. Yes, we are different, and our language is a million times more complicated than that of our fellow animals, and we are self-aware and very clever. But that still doesn’t mean that your God’s sole purpose from the very start was to create us, and that elephants, whales, ants and the duckbilled platypus were specially designed simply to provide food until he could specially design us.

Human evolution; theory of hominin language

by David Turell @, Friday, December 14, 2018, 15:26 (127 days ago) @ dhw

"There are at least three elements of language only present in hominins:
First, is a fine-control over our vocal tracts. Other apes are likely born with a more limited repertoire of vocalizations. The difference comes down to how our brains are wired: Humans have direct connections between the neurons controlling our voice box and the motor cortex, the region of our brain responsible for voluntary movements. Brain scans show these connections are lacking in other primates.
(David's bold)

DAVID: Note my bold. We are physically wired differently. This describes the basics, beyond this is pure unestablished sets of theories. We are different in kind.

dhw: I really don’t think there are many people who would say that we are exactly the same as our fellow primates, and I doubt if many people would say that elephants are the same “kind” as whales or ants or the duckbilled platypus. Yes, we are different, and our language is a million times more complicated than that of our fellow animals, and we are self-aware and very clever. But that still doesn’t mean that your God’s sole purpose from the very start was to create us, and that elephants, whales, ants and the duckbilled platypus were specially designed simply to provide food until he could specially design us.

Ah, it seems you have forgotten that 'different in kind' refers to the other primates we left behind and also Adler's theory which supports our assent to the top pf the heap. All the animals you listed are obviously foodstuff, and not on the point of my comment, Another of your inventive neatly formed sidesteps.

Human evolution; theory of hominin language

by dhw, Saturday, December 15, 2018, 11:59 (126 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "There are at least three elements of language only present in hominins:
First, is a fine-control over our vocal tracts. Other apes are likely born with a more limited repertoire of vocalizations. The difference comes down to how our brains are wired: Humans have direct connections between the neurons controlling our voice box and the motor cortex, the region of our brain responsible for voluntary movements. Brain scans show these connections are lacking in other primates.
(David's bold)

DAVID: Note my bold. We are physically wired differently. This describes the basics, beyond this is pure unestablished sets of theories. We are different in kind.

dhw: I really don’t think there are many people who would say that we are exactly the same as our fellow primates, and I doubt if many people would say that elephants are the same “kind” as whales or ants or the duckbilled platypus. Yes, we are different, and our language is a million times more complicated than that of our fellow animals, and we are self-aware and very clever. But that still doesn’t mean that your God’s sole purpose from the very start was to create us, and that elephants, whales, ants and the duckbilled platypus were specially designed simply to provide food until he could specially design us.

DAVID: Ah, it seems you have forgotten that 'different in kind' refers to the other primates we left behind and also Adler's theory which supports our assent to the top pf the heap. All the animals you listed are obviously foodstuff, and not on the point of my comment, Another of your inventive neatly formed sidesteps.

I have no objections at all to your saying that we are a different species (= different in kind) from our fellow primates, just as our fellow primates are different in kind from elephants, whales and ants, and I could hardly have made it clearer that in terms of language, self-awareness and cleverness we are top of the heap. All life, including ourselves, is ultimately foodstuff. I simply object to your assumption that this means we were your God’s goal from the very beginning, and he specially designed everything else over 3+ billion years for the sole purpose of providing food until he could specially design us. This is the logical gap which you prefer to sidestep rather than bridge.

Human evolution; theory of hominin language

by David Turell @, Saturday, December 15, 2018, 14:25 (126 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "There are at least three elements of language only present in hominins:
First, is a fine-control over our vocal tracts. Other apes are likely born with a more limited repertoire of vocalizations. The difference comes down to how our brains are wired: Humans have direct connections between the neurons controlling our voice box and the motor cortex, the region of our brain responsible for voluntary movements. Brain scans show these connections are lacking in other primates.
(David's bold)

DAVID: Note my bold. We are physically wired differently. This describes the basics, beyond this is pure unestablished sets of theories. We are different in kind.

dhw: I really don’t think there are many people who would say that we are exactly the same as our fellow primates, and I doubt if many people would say that elephants are the same “kind” as whales or ants or the duckbilled platypus. Yes, we are different, and our language is a million times more complicated than that of our fellow animals, and we are self-aware and very clever. But that still doesn’t mean that your God’s sole purpose from the very start was to create us, and that elephants, whales, ants and the duckbilled platypus were specially designed simply to provide food until he could specially design us.

DAVID: Ah, it seems you have forgotten that 'different in kind' refers to the other primates we left behind and also Adler's theory which supports our assent to the top pf the heap. All the animals you listed are obviously foodstuff, and not on the point of my comment, Another of your inventive neatly formed sidesteps.

dhw: I have no objections at all to your saying that we are a different species (= different in kind) from our fellow primates, just as our fellow primates are different in kind from elephants, whales and ants, and I could hardly have made it clearer that in terms of language, self-awareness and cleverness we are top of the heap. All life, including ourselves, is ultimately foodstuff. I simply object to your assumption that this means we were your God’s goal from the very beginning, and he specially designed everything else over 3+ billion years for the sole purpose of providing food until he could specially design us. This is the logical gap which you prefer to sidestep rather than bridge.

What is logical to me is illogical to you. What you describe is what we see. All I have done is said God did it. God can do it any way He wants.

Human evolution; theory of hominin language

by dhw, Sunday, December 16, 2018, 11:46 (125 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Ah, it seems you have forgotten that 'different in kind' refers to the other primates we left behind and also Adler's theory which supports our assent to the top of the heap. All the animals you listed are obviously foodstuff, and not on the point of my comment, Another of your inventive neatly formed sidesteps.

dhw: I have no objections at all to your saying that we are a different species (= different in kind) from our fellow primates, just as our fellow primates are different in kind from elephants, whales and ants, and I could hardly have made it clearer that in terms of language, self-awareness and cleverness we are top of the heap. All life, including ourselves, is ultimately foodstuff. I simply object to your assumption that this means we were your God’s goal from the very beginning, and he specially designed everything else over 3+ billion years for the sole purpose of providing food until he could specially design us. This is the logical gap which you prefer to sidestep rather than bridge.

DAVID: What is logical to me is illogical to you. What you describe is what we see. All I have done is said God did it. God can do it any way He wants.

If you had only said God did it, there would be no problem. But you insist that he specifically preprogrammed or personally dabbled every innovation, econiche, lifestyle and natural wonder over 3.5+ billion years, and did so for the sole purpose of providing food until he specifically designed H. sapiens – his only goal for creating life. You can’t explain why he “chose” this method, even though he was always in full control and could have done it any way he wanted. If you can’t think of an explanation, how can you say it is logical to you? In the four theistic alternative explanations I have given you, which you acknowledge to be logical, God still did it, and in the hypothesis that I have offered, your God could still have done it by inventing the original mechanisms that propelled evolution. But you reject all these logical God-did-it possibilities in favour of the one you can't understand.

Human evolution; theory of hominin language

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 16, 2018, 14:45 (125 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Ah, it seems you have forgotten that 'different in kind' refers to the other primates we left behind and also Adler's theory which supports our assent to the top of the heap. All the animals you listed are obviously foodstuff, and not on the point of my comment, Another of your inventive neatly formed sidesteps.

dhw: I have no objections at all to your saying that we are a different species (= different in kind) from our fellow primates, just as our fellow primates are different in kind from elephants, whales and ants, and I could hardly have made it clearer that in terms of language, self-awareness and cleverness we are top of the heap. All life, including ourselves, is ultimately foodstuff. I simply object to your assumption that this means we were your God’s goal from the very beginning, and he specially designed everything else over 3+ billion years for the sole purpose of providing food until he could specially design us. This is the logical gap which you prefer to sidestep rather than bridge.

DAVID: What is logical to me is illogical to you. What you describe is what we see. All I have done is said God did it. God can do it any way He wants.

dhw: If you had only said God did it, there would be no problem. But you insist that he specifically preprogrammed or personally dabbled every innovation, econiche, lifestyle and natural wonder over 3.5+ billion years, and did so for the sole purpose of providing food until he specifically designed H. sapiens – his only goal for creating life. You can’t explain why he “chose” this method, even though he was always in full control and could have done it any way he wanted. If you can’t think of an explanation, how can you say it is logical to you? In the four theistic alternative explanations I have given you, which you acknowledge to be logical, God still did it, and in the hypothesis that I have offered, your God could still have done it by inventing the original mechanisms that propelled evolution. But you reject all these logical God-did-it possibilities in favour of the one you can't understand.

Human evolution; theory of hominin language

by David Turell @, Sunday, December 16, 2018, 15:09 (125 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Ah, it seems you have forgotten that 'different in kind' refers to the other primates we left behind and also Adler's theory which supports our assent to the top of the heap. All the animals you listed are obviously foodstuff, and not on the point of my comment, Another of your inventive neatly formed sidesteps.

dhw: I have no objections at all to your saying that we are a different species (= different in kind) from our fellow primates, just as our fellow primates are different in kind from elephants, whales and ants, and I could hardly have made it clearer that in terms of language, self-awareness and cleverness we are top of the heap. All life, including ourselves, is ultimately foodstuff. I simply object to your assumption that this means we were your God’s goal from the very beginning, and he specially designed everything else over 3+ billion years for the sole purpose of providing food until he could specially design us. This is the logical gap which you prefer to sidestep rather than bridge.

DAVID: What is logical to me is illogical to you. What you describe is what we see. All I have done is said God did it. God can do it any way He wants.

dhw: If you had only said God did it, there would be no problem. But you insist that he specifically preprogrammed or personally dabbled every innovation, econiche, lifestyle and natural wonder over 3.5+ billion years, and did so for the sole purpose of providing food until he specifically designed H. sapiens – his only goal for creating life. You can’t explain why he “chose” this method, even though he was always in full control and could have done it any way he wanted. If you can’t think of an explanation, how can you say it is logical to you? In the four theistic alternative explanations I have given you, which you acknowledge to be logical, God still did it, and in the hypothesis that I have offered, your God could still have done it by inventing the original mechanisms that propelled evolution. But you reject all these logical God-did-it possibilities in favour of the one you can't understand.

The first bold above is the nubbin of our disagreement. In analyzing God's methods and motives, a conclusion will depend upon one's concept of God. All of both our proposals are logical. I view God as more controlling and purposeful than you do, and therefore favor the proposals I've given. You can't explain God any more than I can. What is logical to you is logical to me. It is not an issue of my understanding. You have misunderstood my comment about God and His use of evolution (second bold). My thought has always been, why did He evolve life if He had the capability to do direct creation as in Genesis? Since it happened it was obviously His choice of method of creation. And as I sit here answering you, I am as far removed from apehood as anything you can imagine. We are the current endpoint. If God used evolution to guide creation and we are the current result, I just accept it as a logical conclusion that we have been His purpose all along. And furthermore, where does evolution go in the future? Superhumans? Same endpoint! Flying humans? We already have that. Case closed.

Human evolution; theory of hominin language

by dhw, Monday, December 17, 2018, 11:37 (124 days ago) @ David Turell

I have combined this thread with "Divine purposes and methods".

Human evolution; how we became marathoners

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 18, 2018, 21:30 (122 days ago) @ dhw

A gene has been found, which allowed us to run down prey. We sweat, they don't:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/simple-genetic-mutation-helped-humans-become...

"Roughly two million to three million years ago, a primate moved from the forest to the savanna. It grew longer legs, larger muscles and wider feet. It developed sweat glands that allowed it to remain cool under the blazing African sun. It was also around this time, according to recent research, that a mutation in a single gene called CMAH spread throughout the species. Now a study in mice supports the idea that this genetic tweak enabled humans to run long distances and hunt their prey to exhaustion.

"According to biologist Ajit Varki of the University of California, San Diego, the mutation rendered the CMAH gene completely inactive. Varki wondered if there was a link between this genetic event and a knack for long-distance running. Because all humans share the same nonfunctional gene, he could not simply compare the running abilities of people with different versions of it. But he had spent years studying mice bred to have the same CMAH inactivation as humans to gain insight into diabetes, cancer and muscular dystrophy. Varki's work suggested a link between CMAH loss and muscle biology, but he needed proof.

“'For about 10 years I've been trying to convince somebody in my lab to put these mice on a treadmill,” Varki says. When he finally did the experiment, “lo and behold, without any training, [the CMAH-deficient mice] were one and a half times better at running.” The rodents' muscles—especially those in their hind limbs—used oxygen more efficiently and were more resistant to fatigue.

"In 2004 Harvard University biologist Daniel Lieberman had hypothesized that running—as opposed to bipedal locomotion alone—played a major role in human evolution. Lieberman, who was not involved in the new mouse research, says it is “the first really good, careful genetic study that fits our predictions” about running's role in the rise of modern humans."

Comment: You can easily overheat your dog by jogging with him at a distance that is too far. On two feet we obviously needed this ability to run down game. We trded hair for sweat glands. It is another way we are different in kind rather than degree from apes and monkeys.

Human evolution; are we a danger to the Earth?

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 25, 2018, 00:42 (116 days ago) @ David Turell

This op-ed thinks so:

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6420/1242

"Earth is in the throes of a mass extinction event and climate change upheaval, risking a planetary shift into conditions that will be extremely challenging, if not catastrophic, for complex life (1). Although responsibility for the present trajectory is unevenly distributed, the overarching drivers are rapid increases in (i) human population, (ii) consumption of food, water, energy, and materials, and (iii) infrastructural incursions into the natural world. As the “trends of more” on all these fronts continue to swell, the ecological crisis is intensifying (2–4). Given that human expansionism is causing mass extinction of nonhuman life and threatening both ecological and societal stability, why is humanity not steering toward limiting and reversing its expansionism?

"The rational response to the present-day ecological emergency would be to pursue actions that will downscale the human factor and contract our presence in the realm of nature. Yet in mainstream institutional arenas, economic, demographic, and infrastructural growth are framed as inevitable, while technological and management solutions to adverse impacts are pursued single-mindedly. Although pursuing such solutions is important, it is also clear that reducing humanity's scale and scope in the ecosphere is the surest approach to arresting the extinction crisis, moderating climate change, decreasing pollution, and providing sorely needed leeway to tackle problems of poverty, food insecurity, and forced migration

***

"The planetwide sense of entitlement bequeathed by a supremacist worldview blinds the human collective to the wisdom of limitations in several ways, thereby hindering efforts to address the ecological crisis by downscaling the human enterprise and withdrawing it from large portions of land and sea.

***

"The reigning human-nature hierarchical worldview thus hinders the recognition that scaling down and pulling back is the most farsighted path forward. Scaling down involves reducing the overall amount of food, water, energy, and materials that humanity consumes and making certain shifts in what food, energy, and materials are used. This quantitative and qualitative change can be achieved by actions that can lower the global population within a human-rights framework, shrink animal agriculture, phase out fossil fuels, and transform an extractionist, overproducing, throwaway, and polluting economy into a recycling, less busy, thrifty, more ecologically benign economy. (my bold)

***

"To pursue scaling down and pulling back the human factor requires us to reimagine the human in a register that no longer identifies human greatness with dominance within the ecosphere and domination over nonhumans. The present historical time invites opening our imagination toward a new vision of humanity no longer obstructed by the worldview of human supremacy. Learning to inhabit Earth with care, grace, and proper measure promises material and spiritual abundance for all."

Comment: Please note my bold above. It points out how bubbled-headed this Utopian opinion-piece comes across. Only in a dictatorship of Communist China was ever birth controlled! When I was born the Earth had two billion folks. We are now over seven billion in less than ninety years. But guess what is happening? In the West birth rate is below replacement rate all on its own. It is the other folks who are multiplying and producing those numbers. Third world countries need help in modern economic development As that happens the birth rate will drop as it has elsewhere. Experts estimate a sustainable human population is best around ten billion.

Any thoughts, anyone?

Human evolution; are we a danger to the Earth?

by dhw, Thursday, December 27, 2018, 09:59 (114 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTES: The reigning human-nature hierarchical worldview thus hinders the recognition that scaling down and pulling back is the most farsighted path forward. Scaling down involves reducing the overall amount of food, water, energy, and materials that humanity consumes and making certain shifts in what food, energy, and materials are used. This quantitative and qualitative change can be achieved by actions that can lower the global population within a human-rights framework, shrink animal agriculture, phase out fossil fuels, and transform an extractionist, overproducing, throwaway, and polluting economy into a recycling, less busy, thrifty, more ecologically benign economy. (David’s bold)

"To pursue scaling down and pulling back the human factor requires us to reimagine the human in a register that no longer identifies human greatness with dominance within the ecosphere and domination over nonhumans. The present historical time invites opening our imagination toward a new vision of humanity no longer obstructed by the worldview of human supremacy. Learning to inhabit Earth with care, grace, and proper measure promises material and spiritual abundance for all."

DAVID’s comment: Please note my bold above. It points out how bubbled-headed this Utopian opinion-piece comes across. Only in a dictatorship of Communist China was ever birth controlled! When I was born the Earth had two billion folks. We are now over seven billion in less than ninety years. But guess what is happening? In the West birth rate is below replacement rate all on its own. It is the other folks who are multiplying and producing those numbers. Third world countries need help in modern economic development As that happens the birth rate will drop as it has elsewhere. Experts estimate a sustainable human population is best around ten billion.

Any thoughts, anyone?

Human arrogance, ignorance, greed and lust for power are certainly posing a huge threat to the overall ecosystem on which our survival depends. And I think we would all agree that “Learning to inhabit Earth with care, grace, and proper measure promises material and spiritual abundance for all”. But the “Utopia” does not depend on birth control alone, and regulating birth does not depend on help in modern economic development. On the contrary, modern economic development is precisely what has triggered many of the other threats the author has listed, and for which we in the West are the prime culprits, having set the example for “extractionist, overproducing, throwaway, polluting economies”. I don’t think our own drop in birth rate has anything to do with our concern for the future of the planet or with modern economic development. There has been a huge cultural shift, and many western folk now are far more focused on their careers, their lifestyles and/or simply earning a living than on making children, whereas even today a woman with no children is not seen as fulfilled in many non-western societies. Perhaps the answer is education, but that does not necessarily mean western education. Ancient cultures have a lot to teach us about respect for Nature. So how can Utopia be achieved? To be blunt, I don’t think it can. Ant society is probably the nearest life can get. (But Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is a scary example of a Utopia I don't think any of us would want.) If God exists, he may have a few ideas of his own!

Human evolution; are we a danger to the Earth?

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 27, 2018, 22:25 (113 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTES: The reigning human-nature hierarchical worldview thus hinders the recognition that scaling down and pulling back is the most farsighted path forward. Scaling down involves reducing the overall amount of food, water, energy, and materials that humanity consumes and making certain shifts in what food, energy, and materials are used. This quantitative and qualitative change can be achieved by actions that can lower the global population within a human-rights framework, shrink animal agriculture, phase out fossil fuels, and transform an extractionist, overproducing, throwaway, and polluting economy into a recycling, less busy, thrifty, more ecologically benign economy. (David’s bold)

"To pursue scaling down and pulling back the human factor requires us to reimagine the human in a register that no longer identifies human greatness with dominance within the ecosphere and domination over nonhumans. The present historical time invites opening our imagination toward a new vision of humanity no longer obstructed by the worldview of human supremacy. Learning to inhabit Earth with care, grace, and proper measure promises material and spiritual abundance for all."

DAVID’s comment: Please note my bold above. It points out how bubbled-headed this Utopian opinion-piece comes across. Only in a dictatorship of Communist China was ever birth controlled! When I was born the Earth had two billion folks. We are now over seven billion in less than ninety years. But guess what is happening? In the West birth rate is below replacement rate all on its own. It is the other folks who are multiplying and producing those numbers. Third world countries need help in modern economic development As that happens the birth rate will drop as it has elsewhere. Experts estimate a sustainable human population is best around ten billion.

Any thoughts, anyone?

dhw: Human arrogance, ignorance, greed and lust for power are certainly posing a huge threat to the overall ecosystem on which our survival depends. And I think we would all agree that “Learning to inhabit Earth with care, grace, and proper measure promises material and spiritual abundance for all”. But the “Utopia” does not depend on birth control alone, and regulating birth does not depend on help in modern economic development. On the contrary, modern economic development is precisely what has triggered many of the other threats the author has listed, and for which we in the West are the prime culprits, having set the example for “extractionist, overproducing, throwaway, polluting economies”. I don’t think our own drop in birth rate has anything to do with our concern for the future of the planet or with modern economic development. There has been a huge cultural shift, and many western folk now are far more focused on their careers, their lifestyles and/or simply earning a living than on making children, whereas even today a woman with no children is not seen as fulfilled in many non-western societies. Perhaps the answer is education, but that does not necessarily mean western education. Ancient cultures have a lot to teach us about respect for Nature. So how can Utopia be achieved? To be blunt, I don’t think it can. Ant society is probably the nearest life can get. (But Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is a scary example of a Utopia I don't think any of us would want.) If God exists, he may have a few ideas of his own!

Medically woman who put off birth into their 30's or 40's are doing a great disservice to themselves, by making more complications in pregnancy and birth. But this points out is DHW's comments. Humans do what humans want to do for themselves with thinking more widely.

Human evolution; our dads are different than ape dads

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 17, 2019, 21:02 (92 days ago) @ David Turell

A new study shows how different:

https://aeon.co/essays/the-devotion-of-the-human-dad-separates-us-from-other-apes?utm_s...

"Among our close animal relatives, only humans have involved and empathic fathers. Why did evolution favour the devoted dad?

***

"So necessary is this trait to the survival of our species that it is underpinned by an extensive, interrelated web of biological, psychological and behavioural systems that evolved over the past half a million years. Yet, until 10 years ago, we had neglected to try to understand this trait, due to the misguided assumption that it was of no significance – indeed, that it was dispensable. This trait is human fatherhood,

***


"To understand the role of the father, we must first understand why it evolved in our species of ape and no other. The answer inevitably lies in our unique anatomy and life history. As any parent knows, human babies are startlingly dependent when they are born. This is due to the combination of a narrowed birth canal – the consequence of our bipedality – and our unusually large brains, which are six times larger than they should be for a mammal of our body size.

***

"This has meant that, to ensure the survival of mother and baby and the continued existence of our species, we have evolved to exhibit a shortened gestation period, enabling the head to pass safely through the birth canal. The consequence of this is that our babies are born long before their brains are fully developed. But this reduced investment in the womb has not led to an increased, compensatory period of maternal investment after birth. Rather, the minimum period of lactation necessary for a child to survive is likewise drastically reduced; the age at weaning of an infant child can be as young as three or four months. A stark contrast to the five years evident in the chimp. Why is this the case?

"If we, as a species, were to follow the trajectory of the chimpanzee, then our interbirth interval (the time between the birth of one baby and the next) would have been so long; so complex and so energy-hungry is the human brain that it would have led to an inability to replace – let alone increase – our population. So, evolution selected for those members of our species who could wean their babies earlier and return to reproduction, ensuring the survival of their genes and our species. But because the brain had so much development ahead of it, these changes in gestation and lactation lengths led to a whole new life-history stage – childhood – and the evolution of a uniquely human character: the toddler.

***

"But 500,000 years ago, our ancestors’ brains made another massive leap in size, and suddenly relying on female help alone was not enough. This new brain was energetically hungrier than ever before. Babies were born more helpless still, and the food – meat – now required to fuel our brains was even more complicated to catch and process than before. Mum needed to look beyond her female kin for someone else. Someone who was as genetically invested in her child as she was. This was, of course, dad.

"Without dad’s input, the threat to the survival of his child, and hence his genetic heritage, was such that, on balance, it made sense to stick around. Dad was incentivised to commit to one female and one family while rejecting those potential matings with other females, where his paternity was less well-assured.

***

"Mothers, still focused on the production of the next child, would be restricted in the amount of hands-on life experience they could give their teenagers, so it was dad who became the teacher.

"This still rings true for the fathers whom my colleagues and I research, across the globe, today. In all cultures, regardless of their economic model, fathers teach their children the vital skills to survive in their particular environment.

***

"Fathers are so critical to the survival of our children and our species that evolution has not left their suitability for the role to chance. Like mothers, fathers have been shaped by evolution to be biologically, psychologically and behaviourally primed to parent. We can no longer say that mothering is instinctive yet fathering is learned.

"The hormonal and brain changes seen in new mothers are mirrored in fathers. Irreversible reductions in testosterone and changes in oxytocin levels prepare a man to be a sensitive and responsive father, attuned to his child’s needs and primed to bond – and critically, less motivated by the search for a new mate. As a man’s testosterone drops, the reward of chemical dopamine increases; this means that he receives the most wonderful neurochemical reward of all whenever he interacts with his child.

***

"Men have evolved to father and to be an equal but crucially different part of the parenting team. By not acknowledging who they are or supporting what they do, we are really missing a trick. Some 80 per cent of men aspire to become fathers. I believe it is time we made the effort to get to know who they really are."

Comment: Very long extremely interesting article. It all seems to be the fault of such a huge brain size and the time to become adult.. No ape does this.

Human evolution; our 7-8 hour sleep pattern is not ape-like

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 24, 2019, 20:13 (85 days ago) @ David Turell

Parts of the world still have several periods of sleep, but most of the advanced world it is one long patch of seven-plus hours. No apes or other animals are like this:

http://discovermagazine.com/2019/jan/to-sleep-perchance-to-evolve?utm_source=Yesmail&am...

"First off, we sleep less. While humans average seven hours, other primates range from just under nine hours (blue-eyed black lemurs) to 17 (owl monkeys). Chimps, our closest living evolutionary relatives, average about nine and a half hours. And although humans doze for less time, a greater proportion is rapid eye movement sleep (REM), the deepest phase, when vivid dreams unfold.

***

"While the costs of sleep are obvious — an animal is vulnerable to predators and other threats, and loses opportunities to find food and mates — the benefits are not. Different hypotheses about why we need sleep include neural development and upkeep, memory processing and immune defense, but there’s no consensus.

"Sleep habits also differ drastically among species. Elephants get by with two hours of shut-eye, while armadillos need 20. Researchers have found several factors that influence these variations in sleep patterns. For example, animals with high metabolisms sleep less — presumably because they spend more time awake and eating. And animals with bigger brains spend a greater portion of sleep in REM.

***

"In a 2018 study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Samson and colleague Charles Nunn, an anthropologist at Duke University, employed a sophisticated statistical method to compare the sleep patterns found in 30 primate species, including our own. They found, says Samson, that humans are significant “evolutionary outliers.” We sleep less but spend about 10 percent more of our total sleep time in REM than expected. Human sleep is shorter and deeper — in other words, more efficient — than that of our closest relatives.

"The finding supports a hypothesis proposed by the duo in 2015: Efficient sleep gave our hominin ancestors an evolutionary edge. By shortening total duration, hominins reduced their time as unconscious targets for predators, and added waking hours to complete essential tasks, like learning, securing resources and maintaining social bonds.

"It’s also still unknown when our ancestors evolved this unusual sleep pattern. Samson speculates it may have emerged when they became too large to sleep in trees, roughly 2 million years ago with Homo erectus. While other apes avoid predators by building arboreal nests, it’s possible that hominins sleeping on the ground evolved more efficient sleep to allow them to spend more time awake — and on the alert for potential threats.

"Based on nearly 70 studies across cultures, including those without electricity or 9-to-5 workdays, Samson and Nunn determined that humans sleep an average of seven hours out of every 24. But, says Samson, “where it gets tricky is that when you look across cultures, the way those seven hours are expressed can be pretty flexible.”

"In contemporary industrialized societies, people typically sleep for one continuous bout. But other cultures divide sleep over multiple sessions, through daytime napping or two nighttime episodes, separated by about an hour of wakefulness.

The latter was the norm for humans before the Industrial Revolution, according to research by historian Roger Ekirch. In preindustrial documents, Ekirch identified over a thousand mentions of so-called first and second sleep, and activities done between, such as chores, prayers, even visiting neighbors. Found in newspapers, court records, diaries and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the references permeate more than 2,000 years of recorded culture.

"The habit of segmented sleep was shed by the early 1900s, likely due to artificial lighting and changing societal views that equated single-bout sleep with productivity and prosperity. Yet Ekirch believes it persists, among Westerners who spontaneously wake in the middle of the night, “a persistent echo of a pattern of sleep ... dominant for literally thousands of years.”

***

"According to the sentinel hypothesis, staggered sleep evolved to ensure that there was always some portion of a group awake and able to detect threats.

***

" In a 2017 study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Samson gave activity trackers, which can approximate sleep time, to a community of Hadza hunter-gatherers in Tanzania. Over 20 nights, there were only 18 one-minute periods when everyone was asleep. Most of the time, about 40 percent of the group was active.

"The study “suggested there’s some type of mechanism set in place where there’s individuals alert, protecting everyone, while most everyone is asleep,” says Samson. This could explain how our ancestors avoided danger while enjoying deep, REM-packed sleep.

"It also fits the idea that the pattern emerged around 2 million years ago, when ancestors like H. erectus abandoned the safety of trees for a fully terrestrial life. Efficient, sentinel-style sleep may have then spurred advances in brain power, technology and social cooperation seen in later hominins. "

Comment: this is an other way we differ from all primates. Our brain seems to require it.

Human evolution; our faces are smaller, show more emotion

by David Turell @, Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 01:46 (4 days ago) @ David Turell

Interesting proposal involving living in cities and the ease of getting food, et c.:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/face-facts-we-have-evolved-to-communicate

"Writing in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, an international team proposes that our faces evolved not just because of factors such as diet and climate, but also to provide more opportunities for gesture and non-verbal communication.

"'We can now use our faces to signal more than 20 different categories of emotion via the contraction or relaxation of muscles", says Paul O'Higgins, from the University of York in the UK.

"'It's unlikely that our early human ancestors had the same facial dexterity as the overall shape of the face and the positions of the muscles were different.

"The researchers traced changes in the evolution of the face from the early African hominins to the appearance of modern human anatomy and conclude that they are the result of a combination of biomechanical, physiological and social influences.

"Human faces are more slender that those of other hominins, and they have a smoother forehead with more visible, hairy eyebrows capable of a greater range of movement. This allows us to express a wide range of subtle emotions, including recognition and sympathy.

***

"The human face has been partly shaped by the mechanical demands of feeding and over the past 100,000 years they have been getting smaller as our developing ability to cook and process food led to a reduced need for chewing, the researchers say.

"This facial shrinking process has become particularly marked since the agricultural revolution, as we switched from being hunter gatherers to agriculturalists and then to living in cities – lifestyles that led to increasingly pre-processed foods and less physical effort.

"'Softer modern diets and industrialised societies may mean that the human face continues to decrease in size", O'Higgins says. "There are limits on how much the human face can change…for example breathing requires a sufficiently large nasal cavity.

"'However, within these limits, the evolution of the human face is likely to continue as long as our species survives, migrates and encounters new environmental, social and cultural conditions.'"

Comment: Interesting concept. We certainly use voice, hands and facial expressions to express ourselves. These are minor changes; we are still H. sapiens sapiens and I think only minor changes of this sort are all that will happen in the future. See the illustrated skulls on the website

Human evolution; language and abstract concepts

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 17:32 (129 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by David Turell, Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 17:54

Our language ability allows us to have abstract concepts:

https://mindmatters.ai/2018/12/how-is-human-language-different-from-animal-signals/

"A hallmark of human beings is the ability to use language. No other species of animal has language, although other species are capable of understanding and communicating quite a few things. Yet (non-human) animal communications cannot properly be called language. A closer look at human language and animal communication, and at the function language serves for us reveals important things about the human mind and about what it is to be human.

***

"A designator, however, is a kind of sign that differs in a very important way from a signal. A designator points to an object, but it does so abstractly, not concretely. The spoken or written word “cat” has nothing physically to do with a cat. Unlike a gesture (pointing to a cat) or making the sound “meow”, the letters C-A-T feature nothing that concretely links the word to the animal. You only know what “cat” designates if you understand the word as used in English. By contrast, you could understand a signal like pointing to a cat or saying “meow” even if you spoke no English. Designators differ from signals in that they point to objects—things or concepts—abstractly.

"Language is the systematic use of designators—the rule-based use of abstract signs. That is why a lion’s roar, an ape’s gesture, or a bird’s song are not really language. They are signals. A signal is not rule-based (signals have no grammar) and signals are concrete, not abstract.

"Only humans have language because only humans are capable of rule-based abstract signing. Animals can often employ complex signals but no animal uses rule-based designators. Animals that can be trained to communicate using “language” (such as parrots or apes) are using words as signals, not as designators. For example, you can train your dog to go fetch the leash when you say “Do you want to go for a walk?” because he has learned to fetch the leash in response to those sounds, which he hears as a signal. He does not understand them as a grammatical construction and will certainly not go on to discuss the weather forecast with you. His communication is concrete, not abstract.

***

"What is the purpose of language? Why does man, and no other animal, use language in addition to signals? As linguist Noam Chomsky has pointed out, the purpose of language is not essentially to communicate. Signals work well for communication. Language permits more complex communication under some circumstances but some signals are quite complex and serve to facilitate communication quite well. Sign language, which is mostly a system of signals, is a quite effective means of communication, even of conveying abstractions, but it is not (except when it signs the alphabet) language. It is derived from language.

"The purpose of language is not primarily to communicate. The purpose of language is to enable man to think in a human way. Man alone is capable of abstract thought—thought about concepts that are universals, and not particular things. Man thinks about justice, and about mercy, about politics and imaginary numbers, and about countless concepts that are not particular physical things. This is abstract thought, and only humans think abstractly.

"Animals are limited to thought about particulars. Dogs think about the food in their bowl. Humans think about nutrition. Dogs think about the good feeling they get when they are petted. Humans think about joy and love in an abstract sense. Both humans and animals have the capacity to think about particulars. Only humans also have the capacity to think about abstract concepts.

"Every thought is about something. All thought is intentional, in the technical philosophical sense that it points to something. Thoughts about particular things—physical objects in the environment, imagination, or memory—are akin to signals.

"But humans cannot think abstractly using signals. A signal points to a physical thing—a physical (or imagined or remembered) object. An abstract concept, such as mercy or justice, is not a physical thing. In order to think abstractly, we must use abstract signs—designators—to point to the conceptual objects of our thoughts. Consider: How could we contemplate mercy if we did not have the word “mercy,” if our thoughts were restricted to concrete objects (akin to signals)? We could imagine situations, persons, or objects that might be associated with mercy but we couldn’t contemplate mercy itself unless we had a word for it. Mercy isn’t a physical thing we can point to.

"Language, which is the rule-based use of abstract designators, is essential for abstract thought because only designators can point to things that have no concrete physical existence. Only human beings think abstractly, and language is what makes abstract thought possible."

Comment: This clearly shows humans are different in kind, not degree. Only we have abstract thought and are aware we are aware. See: Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 17:32

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 05:19 (52 days ago) @ David Turell

Some animals can mimic our speech but only humans have coordinated speech and language:

https://www.knowablemagazine.org/article/mind/2019/why-speech-human-innovation

"It’s true that humans, and humans alone, evolved the complex set of voice, hearing and brain-processing skills enabling full-scale sophisticated vocal communication. Yet animals can make complicated sounds; parrots can mimic human speech and cats can clearly convey that it’s time for a treat. Many animals possess an acute sense of hearing and are able to distinguish random noises from intentional communication. So even though only humans possess the complete linguistic package, the components of language ability “have very deep evolutionary roots,” says Fitch, of the University of Vienna.

"Much of the physiological apparatus for hearing and speaking is found in all land-dwelling vertebrates — the tetrapods — including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. “Humans share a significant proportion of our basic machinery of hearing and vocal production with other tetrapods,”

"Life-forms occupying numerous branches of the tree of life possess anatomical tools for producing and perceiving vocal communication. Where human ability exceeds our predecessors, Fitch says, is the sophistication of the brain circuitry adapted to the uniquely human capacity for complex linguistic expression.

***

"Among the tetrapods, mammals evolved much more sensitive hearing, able to cope with a wider range of frequencies and therefore more able to process nuances of vocalizations. Humankind’s primate ancestors, for instance, possessed highly capable hearing ability. “There is nothing about the human ear that is strikingly different from that of other primates,” Fitch writes. “Our peripheral hearing apparatus was in place, in our primate ancestors, in essentially modern form long before we evolved the capacity for speech.”

***

"Besides all that, parrots and many other bird species, some bats and even elephants can mimic vocal sounds. So humans’ distinctive speech can’t depend solely on vocal production ability. Considering all the evidence, the vocal and auditory skills of various animals tell a tale of multiple preludes to the human speech story. That tale reveals that humans acquired speech not via anatomical innovation for vocalizing and hearing, but by novel neural connections that control the anatomical hardware.

"After all, speech requires more than producing and perceiving sounds. A speaker’s brain must decide what sounds to produce and issue instructions for producing them to the body’s vocal apparatus. And a listener’s brain must be able to decode auditory signals it receives and then issue commands for a vocal response. People are skillful at producing sounds in response to other sounds — it’s why you can repeat a word out loud after the first time you hear it.

"Such controlled vocalization of a word is different from just making noise. Most animals possess neural circuitry for producing “innate” vocalizations: Dogs bark, squirrels chatter and seagulls squawk. Even humans have their own innate vocalizations, including crying, laughter and screams. But among primates, only humans have the “capacity to produce novel, learned vocalizations beyond the innate call repertoire,” Fitch notes.

"Today the dominant hypothesis explaining that ability is the presence of special connections between brain regions involved in controlling speech and hearing. Innate calls — in humans and all other mammals — are initiated by direct signals from the brain stem. Indirect messaging from the cortex (the brain’s more advanced outer layer) enables voluntary suppression or production of innate calls. Unlike other animals, humans possess direct connections between nerve cells in the cortex and the nerve cells that control the muscles operating the larynx. Some apes and monkeys have direct connections from cortex to the muscles controlling the lips and tongue, but not to the muscles controlling the larynx. (Circuitry connecting the auditory cortex to the motor cortex also seem more extensively developed in humans.)

***

“'The genetic underpinnings of … [neural] connections involved in human vocal control are virtually unknown,”

***

“'Language is more than speech,” said Friederici, director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, in Leipzig, Germany. “Speech … uses a limited set of vowels and consonants to form words. Language, however, is a system consisting of words … and a set of rules called grammar or syntax to form phrases and sentences.”

"Nonhuman primates can learn the meaning of individual words, she notes, but aren’t capable of combining words into meaningful sequences of any substantial length. That ability also depends on circuitry connecting different parts of the brain, current research by Friederici, collaborators and other scientists is now showing.

"Understanding that circuitry depends on comparing the cellular architecture and nerve fiber tracts of the human brain with the brain of animals with lesser linguistic power. So in a way, scientists may be able to ask animals for clues not only to the evolution of speech, but to language skills more generally as well. Sort of like going straight to the source and asking the horse."

Comment: As usual we are different in kind, not degree, as vocal animals have lots of the parts we have but not the brain controls.

Human evolution; early upright posture

by David Turell @, Thursday, February 28, 2019, 18:55 (50 days ago) @ David Turell

New anatomic studies review the ability to walk upright and climb trees:

https://phys.org/news/2019-02-upright-human-ancestors.html

"Scott W. Simpson, Ph.D., led an analysis of a 4.5 million-year-old fragmentary female skeleton of the human ancestor Ardipithecus ramidus that was discovered in the Gona Project study area in the Afar Regional State of Ethiopia.

"The newly analyzed fossils document a greater, but far from perfect, adaptation to bipedalism in the Ar. ramidus ankle and hallux (big toe) than previously recognized. "Our research shows that while Ardipithecus was a lousy biped, she was somewhat better than we thought before," said Simpson.

***

"The new analysis, published in the Journal of Human Evolution, thus points to a diversity of adaptations during the transition to how modern humans walk today. "The fact that Ardipithecus could both walk upright, albeit imperfectly, and scurry in trees marks it out as a pivotal transitional figure in our human lineage," said Simpson.

"Key to the adaptation of bipedality are changes in the lower limbs. For example, unlike monkeys and apes, the human big toe is parallel with the other toes, allowing the foot to function as a propulsive lever when walking. While Ardipithecus had an offset grasping big toe useful for climbing in trees, Simpson's analysis shows that it also used its big toe to help propel it forward, demonstrating a mixed, transitional adaptation to terrestrial bipedalism.

"Specifically, Simpson looked at the area of the joints between the arch of the foot and the big toe, enabling him to reconstruct the range of motion of the foot. While joint cartilage no longer remains for the Ardipithecus fossil, the surface of the bone has a characteristic texture which shows that it had once been covered by cartilage. "This evidence for cartilage shows that the big toe was used in a more human-like manner to push off," said Simpson. "It is a foot in transition, one that shows primitive, tree-climbing physical characteristics but one that also features a more human-like use of the foot for upright walking." Additionally, when chimpanzees stand, their knees are "outside" the ankle, i.e., they are bow-legged. When humans stand, the knees are directly above the ankle—which Simpson found was also true for the Ardipithecus fossil.

Comment: this an obvious transitional fossil, but full blown speciation requiring design. I don't believe the cells of the common ancestor of chimps and humans could conceive of how to design a foot and spine and pelvis for bipdal movement.

Human evolution; diet change and 'f', 'v' speech ability

by David Turell @, Monday, March 18, 2019, 00:08 (33 days ago) @ David Turell

A softer diet and development of upper teeth overhang allowed the easier use of labiodental sounds:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/you-sound-how-you-eat-speech-evolved-as-diet-changed

"A surprising new study has revealed that diverse sounds produced by human speech not only evolved after Neolithic times, but also stem from biological alterations in the human bite as a result of eating softer diets.

"The findings contradict the theory that the range of human sounds has not changed since Homo sapiens emerged about 300,000 years ago. Linguistic diversity was also commonly thought to evolve independently of biological changes.

"In 1985, linguist Charles Hockett suggested that labiodentals – the class of speech sounds including ‘f’ and ‘v’ in English – might have evolved as diets became softer with the move away from hunting and gathering towards agriculture and industrialised food processing.

"These changes, he said, altered the human bite so that new sounds were easier to produce.

"Damian Blasi and Steven Moran, researchers from the Department of Comparative Linguistics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, thought the proposal was intriguing.

***

“'So, we set out to test whether we could find such a link between diet, bite and labiodentals.”

"Enlisting a highly interdisciplinary team to investigate, he and colleagues analysed the distribution of labiodentals in contemporary languages.

"They studied how sounds changed through time in the diverse family of Indo-European languages – which includes English, Hindi and Spanish – then modelled the cost of producing labiodentals in a computational model of speech, and scoured paleoanthropological evidence.

"Their investigations revealed that labiodental sounds arose recently, and that they did indeed stem from changes in diet and bite just as Hockett hypothesised.

“'Soft diets led to a preservation of overbite and overjet, which characterises the majority of the bites that people have nowadays,” Blasi explains. These rendered labiodental sounds low cost, or “easy” to produce.

“'Since our upper teeth protrude from our mouth, they can touch the lower lips with very little effort,” he says.

“'Before, heavy wear diets produced an edge-to-edge bite so the upper teeth didn’t protrude, and hence it was harder to produce those sounds. Try it yourself – put your upper and lower teeth in contact then try to produce an ‘f’.”

"The team’s research suggests that the sounds originated not long before the Bronze Age in Europe and Asia. They suspect they emerged from bilabials, another class of speech sounds which include, for instance, ‘b’.

"The authors explore how labiodentals might be “useful” sounds for communicating.

“'They are clearly distinguishable acoustically from other speech sounds and visually salient (think of someone saying the f-word),” Blasi says, adding that ultimately their benefit needs to be further investigated."

Comment: Since speech and language are thought to be recent developments over the past 50,000 years, an appearance of this ability just before the Bronze Age makes for a reasonable timing.

Human evolution; our complex speech mechanism

by David Turell @, Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 17:52 (24 days ago) @ David Turell

It definitely includes the use of meaningful gestures, but just how the brain handles all of this is on partially known:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-the-brain-links-gestures-perception-and-meaning-2019...

"The conversion from movement into meaning is both seamless and direct, because we are endowed with the capacity to speak without talking and comprehend without hearing. We can direct attention by pointing, enhance narrative by miming, emphasize with rhythmic strokes and convey entire responses with a simple combination of fingers.

'The tendency to supplement communication with motion is universal, though the nuances of delivery vary slightly. In Papua New Guinea, for instance, people point with their noses and heads, while in Laos they sometimes use their lips. In Ghana, left-handed pointing can be taboo, while in Greece or Turkey forming a ring with your index finger and thumb to indicate everything is A-OK could get you in trouble.

"Despite their variety, gestures can be loosely defined as movements used to reiterate or emphasize a message — whether that message is explicitly spoken or not. A gesture is a movement that “represents action,” but it can also convey abstract or metaphorical information. It is a tool we carry from a very young age, if not from birth; even children who are congenitally blind naturally gesture to some degree during speech. Everybody does it.

"And yet, few of us have stopped to give much thought to gesturing as a phenomenon — the neurobiology of it, its development, and its role in helping us understand others’ actions. As researchers delve further into our neural wiring, it’s becoming increasingly clear that gestures guide our perceptions just as perceptions guide our actions.

***

"No other species points, Novack explained, not even chimpanzees or apes, according to most reports, unless they are raised by people. Human babies, in contrast, often point before they can speak, and our ability to generate and understand symbolic motions continues to evolve in tandem with language. Gesture is also a valuable tool in the classroom, where it can help young children generalize verbs to new contexts or solve math equations. “But,” she said, “it’s not necessarily clear when kids begin to understand that our hand movements are communicative — that they’re part of the message.”

"When children can’t find the words to express themselves, they let their hands do the talking. Novack, who has studied infants as young as 18 months, has seen how the capacity to derive meaning from movement increases with age. Adults do it so naturally, it’s easy to forget that mapping meaning onto hand shape and trajectory is no small feat.

"Gestures may be simple actions, but they don’t function in isolation. Research shows that gesture not only augments language, but also aids in its acquisition. In fact, the two may share some of the same neural systems. Acquiring gesture experience over the course of a lifetime may also help us intuit meaning from others’ motions. But whether individual cells or entire neural networks mediate our ability to decipher others’ actions is still up for debate.

***

"Researchers may not be able to pinpoint the exact cells that help us to communicate and learn with our bodies, but the overlap between multisensory systems is undeniable. Gesture allows us to express ourselves, and it also shapes the way we understand and interpret others. To quote one of Quandt’s papers: “The actions of others are perceived through the lens of the self.”

"So, the next time someone gives you the one-finger salute, take a moment to appreciate what it takes to receive that message loud and clear. If nothing else, it might lessen the sting a bit."

Comment: Gestures are obviously part of language, but how the brain handles them is still understudy. They are obviously very naturally developed and used with meaning, as seen in young children. The major portion of the article is the discussion of many studies that try to reach a conclusion, but all fail so far.

Human evolution; early diet and brain enlargement

by David Turell @, Monday, April 01, 2019, 21:00 (18 days ago) @ David Turell

Our larger brain takes 20% of our calorie intake. Early enlargement before Homo species certainly required a diet higher in calories. This theory about early butchery tries to cover that possibility:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fat-not-meat-may-have-led-to-bigger-hominin-...

"Northern Ethiopia was once home to a vast, ancient lake.

***

"Deposited within these layers are fossils: some of early hominins, along with the bones of hippos, antelope, and elephants. Anthropologist Jessica Thompson encountered two of these specimens, from an area named Dikika, in 2010.

"At the time, she was a visiting researcher at the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. Given no explanation as to their history, she analyzed the bones and found signs of butchery. Percussion marks suggested someone may have accessed the marrow; cut marks hinted that flesh was stripped from bone. To her surprise, the specimens were 3.4 million years old, putting the butcher’s behaviors back 800,000 years earlier than conventional estimates would suggest. That fact got Thompson, now an assistant professor in the department of anthropology at Yale University, thinking there might be more traces of tool use from those early times.

***

"The prevailing view, supported by a confluence of fossil evidence from sites in Ethiopia, is that the emergence of flaked tool use and meat consumption led to the cerebral expansion that kickstarted human evolution more than 2 million years ago. Thompson and her colleagues disagree: Rather than using sharpened stones to hunt and scrape meat from animals, they suggest, earlier hominins may have first bashed bones to harvest fatty nutrients from marrow and brains.

***

"Because large animals such as antelope pack a serious micro-and-macro-nutrient punch, scientists have thought their meat contributed to humanity’s outsized brains. A consensus arose in the 1950s that our ancestors first hunted small animals before moving on to larger beasts around 2.6 million years ago. Flaked tool use and meat eating became defining characteristics of the Homo genus.

***

"Then, starting in the mid-1980s, an opposing theory arose in which Homo’s emergence wasn’t so tightly coupled with the origins of hunting and predatory dominance. Rather, early hominins first accessed brain-feeding nutrients through scavenging large animal carcasses. The debate has rolled on through the decades, with evidence for the scavenging theory gradually building.

***

"Marrow and brains, meanwhile, are locked inside bones and stay fresh longer. These highly nutritional parts are also a precursor to the fatty acids involved with brain and eye development. And more easily than flesh-meat, bones could be carried away from carcass sites, safe from predators.

***

"she says, “This team has shown that marrow may have in fact been more important. It’s a nuance, but an important nuance.”

***

"Evidence suggests hominins shifted their diet around 3.76 million years ago as they took advantage of the open spaces. By around 3.5 million years ago, some species of Australopithecus already showed increased brain sizes, up to 30 percent larger than chimpanzees of comparable body size. Canines had shrunk to proportions later seen in the genus Homo, and hand morphology was already more human than ape, with potential both for terrestrial travel and tool use.

***

"The earliest Homo specimen is now dated to 2.8 million years. The Dikika fossils suggest butchery behaviors at 3.4 million years ago. Homo may have emerged earlier than scientists suspected—a theory that would need more fossil evidence to support it—or another hominin, such as Australopithecus, may have created tools before Homo."

Comment: It is important to recognize extra dietary calories al lowed brain growth, but didn't cause it.

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