Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Evolution quotes #48

Le Gros Clark "'Probably nothing has done more to introduce confusion into the
story of human evolution than the reckless propensity for inventing new (and
sometimes unnecessarily complicated) names for fragmentary fossil relics that
turn out eventually to belong to genera or species previously known.' Instead of
filling gaps in the story of human ancestry, this habit tended 'to produce gaps
that did not exist.'[1]
This problem has in some part been eased in the
half-century since Hooton made his pithy remarks. But it remains inescapably
true that applying the correct label is astonishingly difficult, not least
because such labels are in a sense arbitrary abstractions, and especially so
when the material on which the analysis is being done ins fragmentary and
eroded. 'It is one so difficult that I think it would be legitimate to despair
that one could ever turn into a science.'"[2]

[1] Man-Apes or Ape-Men, published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967, p. 9

[2] Roger Lewin (noted science journalist), Bones of Contention (New York, NY: A Touchstone Book published by Simon & Schuster Inc., 1987), p. 27 citing "Choose Your Ancestors," lecture at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Sep. 1974

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