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(Phys Org2)   Our ancestors weren't fat - they were big-boned. No, seriously   (phys.org) divider line
    More: Interesting, Human, Homo erectus, Human evolution, Neanderthal, modern humans, own body shape, today's human body, Homo sapiens  
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649 clicks; posted to Geek » on 07 Jul 2020 at 12:22 PM (11 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2020-07-07 11:53:34 AM  
Old piece from Reader's Digest, decades ago: A surgeon would counsel patients on their upcoming procedure and mention to those overweight that it's always a good idea to drop weight before the surgery. Many would tell him that they're not overweight, just big-boned. After the surgery, the doc would go out to the waiting room, tell the family that everything went fine. As he left the room he would pause, turn around and say, "you know, I've been a doctor for 20 years, and she has the tiniest bones I've ever seen."
 
2020-07-07 5:10:49 PM  
IIRC from class they think he would have been over 6' tall fully grown. I know australopithecines were very short, in the 5' range if not smaller. But in humans height is mostly a function of diet. I think it was about 20% genetics for most people, unless something pathological is going on. It could be Turkana Boy came from a people who ate very well. Or he may have been pathological. I think that was pretty much excluded though because that kind of thing leaves bones with odd proportions. And the general rule of thumb is that if you have one or very few samples preserved from a long-vanished population of any creature, you assume that the fossils are likely to be more typical because preservation is so rare. But I then consider that the body often deviates from the typical in many small ways and without a reasonably sized sample of remains from that population, well, it's awfully easy to pull a Kennewick Man and come up with a model that causes an uproar just over the styling decisions made by the modeller.

I've never gotten over the thought that Turkana Boy may have been an outlier. But It is the best preserved set of H. erectus we have and so it is a natural draw for these kinds of studies. I'd feel better if we had just one more specimen from that time and that place.

I know, the Leakeys are to this day giants of the field for their contributions and their dedication to the study of human evolution and the family and the discipline itself has been very consistent in the interpretation of the remains. I'm not disputing its identity as H. erectus but the height just messes with me. It just screams "outlier" to me.

But hey I get heat stroke digging in downtown Indianapolis and I'm certainly not going to take up surface collecting anywhere in the tropics, so really I should just shut up about this.
 
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