July 22, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Human Variability May Swamp Ancestral Hominid Claims

Here are some things to think about when paleoanthropologists draw inferences from fossils alleged to be human ancestors.  A seven-foot-nine-inch man in Mongolia just married a lady more than two feet shorter (see picture at National Geographic).  And a man with just a narrow rim of brain material inside his skull had no symptoms except a weakness in his leg, reported News@Nature.  More than half his skull was filled with “a huge pocket of fluid where most of his brain ought to be,” yet the man was married with two children and had a steady job as a civil servant.  After the fluid was removed, he returned to normal, but “a subsequent scan showed no change in his brain size.  So the man with the tiny brain lives on.”

Evolutionary anthropologists make a big deal out of brain size (as inferred from skull capacity), but look how normal this man’s tiny brain functioned inside a normal skull.  This calls into question any measure of intelligence based on skull capacity.  And might not they have classified Mr. Bao Xishun and his bride as separate species?

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Categories: Early Man, Human Body

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