Sunday, November 13, 2005
The Flores Skeleton and Human Baraminology
First of all, he classifies the bones as human. This is due to several factors:
- Stone tools or artifacts in the same cave
- Charred animal bones nearby, indicating fire
- Many similarities to Homo Erectus and Homo Sapien
He did note that it had the same body size and relative brain size as Australopithecus. The skeleton was very small, but available evidence indicated that it was a healthy adult, and did not have any known pathologies that occur with short stature. So the short stature seemed to be a distinctive morphology of humans in the post-Babel world (Flores is dated later than many Erectine fossils, which seemed to be the main human morphology in Babel and post-Babel times.
Wise notes that human morphology used to be significantly more varied than it is today. He has several hypotheses about what accounts for this. I find them interesting, but not all of them entirely convincing. His primary argument is that there is a programmed set of human morphologies which were triggered by the flood, which all converged on Homo Sapien as part of the plan. This is kind of a wierd idea. Wise explains it by pointing out that frogs have multiple possible ontogenies (development pathways) which all result in the same adult form. The reason for this is in case there is some environmental stress which blocks one particular pathway, there are others that can be taken. This is ontogenic redundancy. Wise proposes a similar thing for humans, but instead thinks that there was a larger-scale diversification, which he called phylogenic redundancy. Basically, for survival or other purposes, the human kind split into several different morphologies, which all separately converged to Homo Sapien. The convergence to Homo Sapien was part of a larger plan.
That was his most interesting claim. Some other claims include:
- The onset of human diversification is not mentioned in the Bible, but archaeologically it seems to occur at the same time as the change in lifespan.
- Heterochrony (change in development rates) is responsible for a large degree of human variability post-flood
- The founder effect is responsible for most of the variation of Homo Erectus
- The divergence of human morphologies _preceded_ their dispersion. I have seen this claim elsewhere, but do not know what the justification is for this. Dispersion often came from a divergent morphology finding a home that suited them, not from a particular morphologic change in response to the environment. This seems backwards, and I hesitate to accept it without further evidence of the claim.
- As noted above, the modern Homo Sapien morphology was derived multiple times independently from numerous Homo morphologies.
Anyway, it was an interesting read. One paper which was highly referenced which I have not read yet is Wise and Croxton's "Rafting: a post-flood biogeographic dispersal mechanism."
Throughout the article, Wise downplays some more common conceptions of the origin of variation. Specifically, he doesn't think that degenerative mutation had much if anything to do with the variation. Likewise, he discounts the effects of heterozygous fractionation. However, he does note the founder effect several times, and I fail to see the difference between the founder effect and heterozygous fractionation. It seems like two names for the same process to me. Perhaps I misunderstood him here.
Anyway, lots of food for thought.