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Author Topic:   What if Homo erectus was alive today?
AustinG
Member (Idle past 3272 days)
Posts: 36
Joined: 04-06-2009


Message 1 of 49 (510211)
05-28-2009 11:34 PM


Last year wildlife researchers discovered over 100,000 gorillas in a remote area of the Congo.

The fact that 100,000 gorillas could escape humankind's ever searching gaze got me thinking. What if instead of gorillas, the researchers uncovered a population of Homo erectus?

The General consensus among anthropologists is that we, Homo sapien sapiens, evolved from Homo erectus less than 2 million years ago (or even less than 1 million years ago if I remember correctly). I realize in order for my hypothetical situation to work my population of Homo erectus would have to have separated and isolated itself. I also understand that whatever selected pressures caused Homo erectus to evolve into Homo sapien would have to be absent from the environment that this isolated population lived in. In anycase, the possibility of a group of Homo erectus existing in the present is not an issue as my discussion only pertains to the hypothetical. Now on to the point...

Obviously, a discovery of a living population of Homo erectus would stir up the EvC debate. My question is, would this be the smoking gun of evolution for creationists? If not, what arguments could be made in defense of creationism?

After this point has been exhausted, I would like to discuss the human rights implications of a Homo erectus discovery. Would they be afforded human rights? If a group of Homo erectus immigrated to your country, would they be allowed to vote? Get a Job? Would they be treated as animals or some half-way point?

Obviously, I'm assuming Homo erectus is less intelligent then our own species, but only slightly. At the upper end of the spectrum, erectus specimens demonstrate cranial capacity that is close to our own. Indeed, if I remember correctly from my anthropology course, some Homo erectus specimen's cranial capacity exceeded Homo sapiens...or was that neanderthalensis? It doesn't matter... In anycase, there is evidence that they made clothes, used primitive stone tools, and may have even utilized fire.

Edited by AustinG, : No reason given.


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Adminnemooseus
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Posts: 3879
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Message 2 of 49 (510219)
05-29-2009 12:32 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
Coyote
Member (Idle past 210 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 3 of 49 (510223)
05-29-2009 1:00 AM


Erectus alive today
That's a very interesting question!

It touches on anthropology, evolution, civil rights, and a host of other topics.

Here's an opener: 100-300 years ago they would have been mostly wiped out by outside occupation and diseases to which they had no immunity.

Now they would be the subject of major civil rights battles in some countries and the subject of exploitation in others. The preachers would be battling the scientists for first crack at them!


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
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Member Rating: 6.6


Message 4 of 49 (510225)
05-29-2009 1:34 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by AustinG
05-28-2009 11:34 PM


Reference Please
Last year wildlife researchers discovered over 100,000 gorillas in a remote area of the Congo.

I doubt this. Do you have a reference?

ABE

Wow! Am I ever wrong. I'm very glad to be this wrong though.

Edited by NosyNed, : responding to Mooses supplied ref


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Minnemooseus
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From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
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Message 5 of 49 (510226)
05-29-2009 1:44 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by NosyNed
05-29-2009 1:34 AM


Re: Reference Please
edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/08/05/congo.gorillas...

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/05/tech/main4321037.shtml

Moose


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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 801 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 6 of 49 (510283)
05-29-2009 2:25 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by AustinG
05-28-2009 11:34 PM


Hi, Austin.

I had to slip in with my OCD and correct something that you wrote:

AustinG writes:

I also understand that whatever selected pressures caused Homo erectus to evolve into Homo sapien would have to be absent from the environment that this isolated population lived in.

This is untrue. All that is required is isolation. You're not going to find one species that evolved independently from two different ancestors, so no amount of evolution and no amount of selection pressures are going to turn any surviving Homo erectus into new Homo sapiens. The only thing that would do this is interbreeding (along with selection pressures).

Think of it this way. I'm white. Is there a chance that my child will be born Asian? Is there any chance that my descendants will ever become Asian without interbreeding with Asians somewhere along the line?

-----

AustinG writes:

After this point has been exhausted, I would like to discuss the human rights implications of a Homo erectus discovery. Would they be afforded human rights?

I'm a science fiction writer by hobby, and I occasionally deal with this very issue: how will humans view aliens? That's essentially what a Homo erectus is: an alien.

Could the concept of a "Chosen Race" be extended to allow another species into our churches?

Would we feel the same remorse in killing a Homo erectus as we would in killing a Homo sapiens?

I think we'd generally treat them better than we treat cows and centipedes and squid, and we'd probably try to establish some kind of dialogue, even if only for the academic curiosity. But I think we'd still have a tendency to see them as "them," and us as "us": if push comes to shove, we'll favor ourselves over them for sure.

-----

Here's a thought: if you were the government of Florida, and H. erectus was found in the Everglades, would you be willing to let them carve out a chunk of your state as their homeland?

I bet most countries would complain about the loss of territory, and that would be the beginning of a political grudge that may eventually escalate to war.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1341 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 7 of 49 (510289)
05-29-2009 3:16 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Blue Jay
05-29-2009 2:25 PM


I would guess it would depend, in large part, on how "different" they looked. Most people would judge them based on gut reactions, and if they looked to far from the norm for Homo sapiens, they'd be treated as different or "other." If, however, they could pass as humans in a dark, smoky bar, then maybe they'd be afforded more "human" rights.
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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16093
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.6


Message 8 of 49 (510295)
05-29-2009 3:45 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by AustinG
05-28-2009 11:34 PM


Obviously, a discovery of a living population of Homo erectus would stir up the EvC debate. My question is, would this be the smoking gun of evolution for creationists?

No. They're a predictable bunch. It would play out like this:

(1) They would make the same excuses for the anatomy of living specimens as they do for the fossil specimens.

(2) They would make the same excuses for the evidence from molecular phylogeny as they do for the molecular evidence from every other species.

(3) They would claim that we can't be descended from H. erectus if it's still alive (as in "why are there still monkeys?")

(4) They would claim that "evolutionists" said that H. erectus was extinct and that therefore "evolutionists" have been proved wrong, ignoring the facts that everyone thinks that they're extinct and that the reason for this has nothing to do with evolution and everything to do with the fact that no-one can find a living specimen (see also coelacanths, the Wollemi pine).

(5) They would ignore the fact that every biologist in the world was partying like it was 1999.


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AustinG
Member (Idle past 3272 days)
Posts: 36
Joined: 04-06-2009


Message 9 of 49 (510397)
05-30-2009 7:09 PM


quote:
This is untrue. All that is required is isolation.

Thanks for the correction; however, my point was that the isolated group of H. erectus would have to meet some kind of equalibrium in their eviromen otherwise they would continue to evolve--not into H. sapiens exactly neccesarely, but maybe another species or sub-species all together.


  
Lokins
Junior Member (Idle past 3195 days)
Posts: 23
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Joined: 05-28-2009


Message 10 of 49 (510403)
05-30-2009 10:27 PM


Interesting...
This is an extremely interesting thought, one I'm surprised I've never thought of before. Upon reading it, I jumped immediately to the civil rights question: How differently would we treat Homo Erectus from our own species? I'm no expert on the amount of intelligence that Homo Erectus had, but I would think that given the close relationship to our species, they might possibly have the capability of learning language. If we could actually have a conversation with H. Erectus, would we treat them as our own species, as another animal, or somewhere in between?

For some reason, I seem to think that we would treat them not necessarily as full humans, but much closer to humans than any other animal. It's so strange to think about, though, I don't think one could ever know for sure.

Thanks for bringing that up!


  
slevesque
Member (Idle past 2744 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


Message 11 of 49 (510421)
05-31-2009 4:11 AM


I know a couple of people who look pretty Neandertal, but I don't treat them differently

great topic though


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AustinG
Member (Idle past 3272 days)
Posts: 36
Joined: 04-06-2009


Message 12 of 49 (510487)
05-31-2009 6:25 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by slevesque
05-31-2009 4:11 AM


I like to speculate that Homo erectus would be capable of some sort of primitive culture.

Click here to visit archaeologyinfo.com's website about H. erectus for more information.

On the page, Kreger discusses specimens with varying cranial capactities--some in the 1000cc range, which is remarkably close to our own of 1350cc. The picture on the page, which I presume to be a picture of H. erectus, is stunning. It gives us an example of what our human ancestors may have looked like.

Although H. erectus' ability to form higher culture on its own is questionable, I like to speculate they would have the ability to at least learn culture from us. Culture is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, so I would say they would deserve human rights. I'm not so sure about voting rights though...Its just a strange thing to think about. I'll have to contemplate it a little more.


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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 801 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 13 of 49 (510513)
05-31-2009 11:23 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Perdition
05-29-2009 3:16 PM


Procreation
Hi, Perdition.

I think the final test would be whether we could procreate with them.

I wonder how a fundamentalist would feel about that idea.
Would interbreeding be a sin, and all children produced, abominations?
If children are produced, what would prevent us from calling them just another ethnic group, instead of a different species?
And, wouldn't the "abominations" label then simply amount to racial bigotry?

Edited by Bluejay, : I'm pretty sure fundamentalists won't "fell" anything


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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 Message 15 by Perdition, posted 06-01-2009 12:18 PM Blue Jay has responded

AustinG
Member (Idle past 3272 days)
Posts: 36
Joined: 04-06-2009


Message 14 of 49 (510518)
05-31-2009 11:50 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Blue Jay
05-31-2009 11:23 PM


Re: Procreation
quote:
bluejay: Would interbreeding be a sin, and all children produced, abominations?

As far as I know H. erectus and H. sapiens would not be able to interbreed, but this is only speculation.

Keep in mind that race has no meaning anthropologically; its cultural creation no grounded in science. Species, on the other hand, do have meaning. I understand your point though, and I would say interbreeding would be very taboo...


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Perdition
Member (Idle past 1341 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 15 of 49 (510559)
06-01-2009 12:18 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Blue Jay
05-31-2009 11:23 PM


Re: Procreation
Hi Bluejay,

I think the final test would be whether we could procreate with them.

I wonder how a fundamentalist would feel about that idea.
Would interbreeding be a sin, and all children produced, abominations?
If children are produced, what would prevent us from calling them just another ethnic group, instead of a different species?
And, wouldn't the "abominations" label then simply amount to racial bigotry?

I don't think we could interbreed with them, otherwise, they'd be the same species as us, definitionally. Though, I suppose, we could have infertile children, like horses and donkeys do...

I could all but guarantee, though, that there would be a website dedicated to sapiens/erectus sex, and it would become a fetish pretty quickly.

Fundamentalists would definitely consider any sexual interaction to be an abomination, and there would be debate even among the more liberal religious groups as to whether they had souls and could be saved, or baptised, or whatever. But, if you consider that there are still people who consider black or asian or middle eastern people to be little better than animals, perhaps more would consider erectus to be so, and it could become a heated debate leading to violence, potentially.


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