Uncommon Descent: This is What Happens When the Ignorant Claim to Have Expertise in a Subject They Know Nothing About…

Over at UD the response to the new finds in Gona is extremely comical, they even seem to have adopted an equivalent of the ‘How do you explain pygmies and dwarves” argument so beloved by Pharyngulans the world over. Explain these seems to be their argument… Gee, that’s a tough one, how will us poor anthro types explain it? …


We also get the “it’s only a few fragments” argument (even though it’s an entire crania)…One commenter seems to think the lack of soft tissue is a serious impediment to paleoanthropology…Sigh. This is actually a pet peeve of mine. Leaving aside the question of whether or not we have complete body parts (In actual fact we have plenty of fossils – lots of which are complete bones or skeletons). One can actually learn quite a bit from a fragment. When I took human osteology and advanced human osteology in college we learned skeletal anatomy on fragments (mainly). Usually, the only time we saw a complete bone was when the instructor used them for demonstrative purposes (“This is a femur, here are the bits that tell you it’s a femur, here are some bits that tell you whether it’s a left or right femur, these other bits provide clues to sex…”, etc.). I may do a post – or series of posts – on what can be learned from bones, and fragments thereof… In the meantime, I should have another post up on how paleoanthropologists learn about human evolution either today or tomorrow…

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