Thursday, January 12, 2012

Evolution quotes #20

Regarding the footprints at Laetoli:
"Not only are the prints 'remarkably similar to those of modern man,'[1] says Mary Leakey, but they, 'could only have been left by an ancestor of modern man.' Therefore, for Mary Leakey the discovery of the footprints served to support the conclusion that the teeth and jaws described by White were indeed from members of the genus Homo. 'The form of the prints fully confirms this,'[2] she says. This line of argument rests on the assumption that only species of Homo would have feet and a gait like ours and that the footprints of Australopithecus would be somehow identifiably different: more primitive, perhaps. It is an assumption of the sort that has often been made in paleoanthropology, but it appears to be based as much on special pleading-a kind of homocentrism-as on hard evidence."

[1] "Footprints in the Ashes of Time," in National Geographic, April 1979, p. 446
[2] Interview for The Making of Mankind, BBC Television, 4 Sep. 1979

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