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Some See Roots of Compassion in a Toothless Fossil Skull
New York Times ^ | April 6, 2005 | JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

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 ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: compassion; evolution; fossils; georgia; skulls

1 posted on 04/06/2005 12:13:37 PM PDT by CobaltBlue
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To: PatrickHenry

Ping?


2 posted on 04/06/2005 12:14:32 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: CobaltBlue
My theory:

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.

3 posted on 04/06/2005 12:19:08 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (The fourth estate is a fifth column.)
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To: CobaltBlue

they kept him around to open the beer bottles.


4 posted on 04/06/2005 12:24:01 PM PDT by almcbean
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To: CobaltBlue

He probably survived on Ring Ding Jrs, Twinkies, and Hostess Cupcakes. I know I do.


5 posted on 04/06/2005 12:24:24 PM PDT by 6SJ7
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To: ClearCase_guy

LOL And you could probably come up with about 10 other similarly authoritative theories, too.


6 posted on 04/06/2005 12:24:36 PM PDT by jwalburg (Those buried included children still clutching toys)
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To: ClearCase_guy

> 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?


7 posted on 04/06/2005 12:34:12 PM PDT by orionblamblam ("You're the poster boy for what ID would turn out if it were taught in our schools." VadeRetro)
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To: jwalburg

He told Mike Tyson: "You suck jerk"
- the rest is histery


8 posted on 04/06/2005 12:39:16 PM PDT by Leo Carpathian (FReeeePeee!)
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To: orionblamblam
1. Quickly, run to the dictionary and open to "Sarcasm"
2. Read definition
3. Think to self, "Does this apply?"

The simplest answer is that the subject had no teeth, yet lived for some time after. That is scientific. Everything after that is guessing. What bothers many people, is the supposition of guessing as fact.

I love archeology, but archaeologists/paleontologists drive me insane. They take a few strings of fact and proceed to weave a bolt of fiction.

It doesn't take a long look at the history of this field of science to see that the actual facts are always embellished to support whatever the current social theories of the day are.

As for the simplest explanation, that is all predisposed on what you find to be simple.
9 posted on 04/06/2005 12:50:23 PM PDT by SampleMan ("Yes I am drunk, very drunk. But you madam are ugly, and tomorrow morning I shall be sober." WSC)
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To: CobaltBlue

Toothless? must have been a Paleo-Brit!........


10 posted on 04/06/2005 12:52:00 PM PDT by Red Badger (I'd rather be a Crack-er than a Crack Ho........)
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To: SampleMan
I love archeology, but archaeologists/paleontologists drive me insane. They take a few strings of fact and proceed to weave a bolt of fiction.

I've always thought that archaeologists/paleontologists worked under the assumption that nobody knows more than a modern archaeologists/paleontologists.

11 posted on 04/06/2005 12:54:10 PM PDT by DrDavid (Support Global Warming: Surf the Hebrides)
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To: CobaltBlue
My brother-in-law never wears his dentures, and he can eat just about anything, including steak.

Carolyn

12 posted on 04/06/2005 12:55:03 PM PDT by CDHart (The world has become a lunatic asylum and the lunatics are in charge.)
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To: CobaltBlue

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.


13 posted on 04/06/2005 1:00:35 PM PDT by dangus
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To: orionblamblam
"Someone kept him alive, clearly"

You just learn to swallow bigger chunks of food.

14 posted on 04/06/2005 1:11:11 PM PDT by Deaf Smith
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To: dangus
"Old Man" may be a skilled hunter or warrior with still much to teach the tribe.

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.

15 posted on 04/06/2005 1:25:34 PM PDT by lizma
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To: dangus

> 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.


16 posted on 04/06/2005 1:26:17 PM PDT by orionblamblam ("You're the poster boy for what ID would turn out if it were taught in our schools." VadeRetro)
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To: SunkenCiv

Ping.


17 posted on 04/06/2005 1:30:13 PM PDT by lizma
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To: dangus

The fact that this occurred 1.77 million years ago is surely remarkable, no?


18 posted on 04/06/2005 1:31:01 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: dangus

Well, at least there wasn't a funnel and hollow tube lying around.


19 posted on 04/06/2005 1:33:28 PM PDT by Old Professer (As darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of good; innocence is blind.)
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To: CobaltBlue

Darwinism can explain everything.


20 posted on 04/06/2005 1:35:14 PM PDT by cookcounty ("We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts" ---Abe Lincoln, 1858.)
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To: Old Professer

>> Well, at least there wasn't a funnel and hollow tube lying around. <<

They took it away. That's why he died. Damned liberals.


21 posted on 04/06/2005 1:35:24 PM PDT by dangus
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To: orionblamblam

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!"


22 posted on 04/06/2005 1:38:19 PM PDT by dangus
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To: CobaltBlue

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.


23 posted on 04/06/2005 1:41:41 PM PDT by Gingersnap
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To: ClearCase_guy
Fossil record backs up this theory about as well as it backs up the compassion theory.

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.

24 posted on 04/06/2005 1:45:18 PM PDT by Spiff (Don't believe everything you think.)
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To: Gingersnap

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?


25 posted on 04/06/2005 1:48:11 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: Spiff

Well, what did people eat 1.77 million years ago? Any suggestions?


26 posted on 04/06/2005 1:48:59 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: CobaltBlue

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.


27 posted on 04/06/2005 1:50:49 PM PDT by Varda
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To: orionblamblam

Yeah, but what about dogs who haven't been told about the lives of feral dogs??
susie


28 posted on 04/06/2005 1:58:24 PM PDT by brytlea
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To: CobaltBlue
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? Cream of mammoth? susie
29 posted on 04/06/2005 2:00:38 PM PDT by brytlea
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To: CobaltBlue

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.
susie


30 posted on 04/06/2005 2:01:59 PM PDT by brytlea
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To: CobaltBlue
"Any suggestions?"

Really big rabbits.

31 posted on 04/06/2005 2:28:22 PM PDT by Deaf Smith
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To: CobaltBlue
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, some of my older relatives had no trouble with meat, it just took a while. They could also handle dried prunes and raisins if they were soaked in something. Fish was no problem.

While my relatives didn't go in for it, I'm sure grubs and insects would be okay along with mashed tubers. Meat is nothing compared to peanut brittle and my great uncle practically lived off the stuff.
32 posted on 04/06/2005 2:40:17 PM PDT by Gingersnap
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To: Gingersnap

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. ;^)


33 posted on 04/06/2005 2:43:19 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: CobaltBlue
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. ;^)

I'd laugh (while I cleaned my shotgun).
34 posted on 04/06/2005 2:46:21 PM PDT by Gingersnap
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To: Gingersnap

OK, laughter is good. Clean shotguns are good.

(tiptoeing away quietly . . . . )


35 posted on 04/06/2005 2:50:30 PM PDT by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: CobaltBlue
Stranger In A New Land


36 posted on 04/06/2005 2:51:52 PM PDT by blam
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To: dangus

CAT FUD---->


37 posted on 04/06/2005 3:05:06 PM PDT by orionblamblam ("You're the poster boy for what ID would turn out if it were taught in our schools." VadeRetro)
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"strategies in early Homo"

And his teeth were knocked out? I won't say it.


38 posted on 04/06/2005 10:42:42 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (last updated my FreeRepublic profile on Friday, March 25, 2005.)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 4ConservativeJustices; ...
Thanks lizma. Paleopingographicologicalism ping.
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)

39 posted on 04/06/2005 10:44:35 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (last updated my FreeRepublic profile on Friday, March 25, 2005.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Ditto to that !!


40 posted on 04/07/2005 3:40:12 AM PDT by Dustbunny (The only good terrorist is a dead terrorist)
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To: CobaltBlue
Well, what did people eat 1.77 million years ago? Any suggestions?

For a toothless diet: eggs, brains, blood, marrow, tubers or intestines hammered to mush.

41 posted on 04/07/2005 5:14:57 AM PDT by dread78645 (Sarcasm tags are for wusses.)
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To: Old Professer
Well, at least there wasn't a funnel and hollow tube lying around.

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

42 posted on 04/07/2005 6:09:35 AM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: CobaltBlue

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!


43 posted on 04/07/2005 1:39:50 PM PDT by Hegemony Cricket (And so it was. By teaching us to read, they had taught us how to get away.)
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