Skip to comments.Some See Roots of Compassion in a Toothless Fossil Skull
Posted on 04/06/2005 12:13:36 PM PDT by CobaltBlue
The toothless skull of an early human ancestor, discovered in the Republic of Georgia, may attest to evolution's oldest known example of some kind of compassion for the elderly and handicapped in society, scientists are reporting today.
Other experts agreed that the discovery was significant, but cautioned that it might be a stretch to interpret the fossil as evidence of compassion.
The well-preserved skull belonged to a male Homo erectus about 40 years old. All his teeth, except the left canine, were missing. The empty tooth sockets had been filled in by a regrowth of bone, the scientists said, indicating that the man had been toothless for at least two years before he died at what was then an old age. (The discoverers call him the "old man.")
In a report in today's issue of the journal Nature, the discovery team said the 1.77-million-year-old skull "raises questions about alternative subsistence strategies in early Homo."
Specifically, how could the man have survived that long, unable to chew the food of a mainly meat-eating society?
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
He was a prisoner captured from another tribe.
First thing they did was knock out his teeth.
Then, the put him through years of constant, hellish tortures,
and they fed him just enough mush to survive.
But after two years of this, he developed an infection and died.
Fossil record backs up this theory about as well as it backs up the compassion theory.
they kept him around to open the beer bottles.
He probably survived on Ring Ding Jrs, Twinkies, and Hostess Cupcakes. I know I do.
LOL And you could probably come up with about 10 other similarly authoritative theories, too.
> Then, the put him through years of constant, hellish tortures,
and they fed him just enough mush to survive.
Keeping prisoners for *years* is largely beyond both the ability and interest of extremely primitive hunter-gatherers, much less a proto-human.
Someone kept him alive, clearly. But why? Go with the simplest explanation. One that explains rationally why someone who was a drain on resources was retained. Look around the world: a great many people are dependent upon others for their very survival. This includes prisoners, of course. But how many prisoners are there compared to, say, elderly and invalid?
He told Mike Tyson: "You suck jerk"
- the rest is histery
Toothless? must have been a Paleo-Brit!........
I've always thought that archaeologists/paleontologists worked under the assumption that nobody knows more than a modern archaeologists/paleontologists.
Benefaction is a behavior which can be spotted in animals and is not equivalent to charity (universal, or "Christian" love). Animals instinctively maintain care of other animals in situations where the other animals are likely to share genes. The reason for it is quite simple: the behavior is naturally selected, since natural selection favors simply the survival of genes, not really organisms. For this reason, drones-bees will die to protect their queen, for she generates like-gened siblings. Likewise, wolves will die to protect other packmates.
This benefaction is, of course, not rational, and be based on incorrect reasons. For instance, dogs are by nature loyal to whom they perceive as their authority, even when it is a human master and not an alpha male. [I've since read arguments that this may NOT be a genetic mistake, but an example of co-evolution!]
Given that such emotional bonding is common in animals, I cannot possibly percieve why it would be surprising among cave men! "Old Man" may be a skilled hunter or warrior with still much to teach the tribe. What is unusual, but hardly remarkable, is the simple recognition that someone may need assistance eating food.
You just learn to swallow bigger chunks of food.
I agree. He probably was of some value to the tribe, maybe their wise man. So someone else chewed his food for him. What's the big deal.
> This benefaction is, of course, not rational, and be based on incorrect reasons. For instance, dogs are by nature loyal to whom they perceive as their authority, even when it is a human master and not an alpha male.
It is hardly irrational for a dog to be loyal to a (decent)human master. Examine the quality and *quantity* of life of a feral dog to that of one that stays in a nice warm house and gets regular means and veterinary care.
The fact that this occurred 1.77 million years ago is surely remarkable, no?
Well, at least there wasn't a funnel and hollow tube lying around.
Darwinism can explain everything.
>> Well, at least there wasn't a funnel and hollow tube lying around. <<
They took it away. That's why he died. Damned liberals.
Do not confuse rational with logical. By "not rational," I simply meant the lack of a cognitive thought process. The dog isn't saying, "I'll be nice to this guy, he gets me my food." He's simply saying, "Oooh! Goody! Food Guy! I LOVE food guy!"
I've got to say that the scientists involved in this speculation don't seem to have spent much time around the toothless.
Babies and elderly people who need a ground/mashed diet need it because other textures pose a choking hazard. Many an old party will happily gum away on just about anything. The difficulty is in the embarrassment factor at mealtimes. I doubt the creatures under discussion gave table manners much thought.
It's hilarious how they find a fragment of bone and invent an entire species and culture - down to what they ate, wore, and did for fun - and then they have the audacity to call it science. They just make crap up.
I think the key factor in the analysis is that the person in question lived in Georgia, a country just south of Russia, with a climate which is very cold in the winter, well below freezing.
1.77 million years ago predates agriculture by quite a bit, by about 1.76 million years or so.
Modern toothless humans can eat ice cream, cereal, baby food, crackers, bread, etc. These did not exist 1.77 million years ago. So, what did he eat?
Well, what did people eat 1.77 million years ago? Any suggestions?
Maybe this guy was helped by his tribe-mates or maybe he just survived on raw meat. Cut in small pieces it's pretty easy to swallow.
Yeah, but what about dogs who haven't been told about the lives of feral dogs??
I suppose they ate meat if they could catch it, I suspect they ate bugs and grubs and things, nuts, fruits, things they could gather (in season). I suspect someone did chew some of his food for him. Ick, I would prefer a blender.
Really big rabbits.
I guess I just don't know enough people without their own teeth?
I would venture some sort of comment about trailer parks or rednecks but not knowing you very well don't know if you'd laugh or get mad at me. ;^)
OK, laughter is good. Clean shotguns are good.
(tiptoeing away quietly . . . . )
"strategies in early Homo"
And his teeth were knocked out? I won't say it.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest -- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
Ditto to that !!
For a toothless diet: eggs, brains, blood, marrow, tubers or intestines hammered to mush.
So you were proposing that they gave him a beer bong?
On second thought, beer is almost liquid bread so perhaps that would make sense
When the prehistoric man drove up from the dregs,
He didn't know what would go with the bacon and the eggs.
Must of been some Einstein that got it in his head
To plug the toaster in the wall, and go buy a bag of bread
And make TOAST! YEAH, TOAST!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.