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Ancient Hominids
April 12, 2005 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Ancient toothless skull possible first sign of early human compassion
New evidence of early human ancestry in Africa
Skill employed by early hominid tool makers
posted by dfowler (8 comments total)

 
Ergh.

This is a bit tea-leafy and touchy-feely to me. I don't doubt that the emergence of "compassion" could be an identifiable milestone -- I'm just not sure this marks it. People can be enormously resourceful, and if game was plentiful, I could imagine a clever old man finding ways to subsist for a year or more without the ability to chew solid food.

That's not to say that i don't believe "compassion" was practiced among early hominids. I think it's practiced in lots of places; early hominids were probably not unique, just as humans aren't unique in its practice today.
posted by lodurr at 8:05 AM on April 12, 2005


MetaFilter: employed by early hominid tool makers
posted by Wolfdog at 8:21 AM on April 12, 2005


or perhaps he lost all but one of his teeth at once, and then died. (or his teeth fell out as he starved)
posted by delmoi at 8:33 AM on April 12, 2005


[delmoi: Analysis of the skull seems to indicate that he was toothless (save one) for at least a year before he died. Also, the big issue here is not that they've found remains of old or near-crippled people; those have been found for years at later sites. This site is very early and these hominids appear to be pre-H. erectus.]
posted by lodurr at 8:39 AM on April 12, 2005


Lodurr, I was looking for information on early african ancestry to refute your point but all I could find was this.

My research has failed and I concede defeat.
posted by dfowler at 9:04 AM on April 12, 2005


lodurr writes "I could imagine a clever old man finding ways to subsist for a year or more without the ability to chew solid food. "

But he wasn't a clever old man: "The little "people" - who stood at around four feet tall.... were short, long-armed, small-brained, thin browed."

He wasn't a sapiens, he wasn't even an erectus; he was perhaps some sort of habiline, ape-like.

And it wasn't for just a year: "The tooth sockets had been resorbed into the skull, suggesting that he had lost the teeth several years before dying."
posted by orthogonality at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2005


this month's National Geographic has articles about these ideas as well.
posted by memnock at 3:09 PM on April 12, 2005


"Will you still need me, will you still feed me..."
posted by davy at 3:12 PM on April 12, 2005


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