Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Ape-Human Hybrid!

Posted by Neal on September 26, 2006

Both Language Log and HeiDeas took note of the announced discovery of a child Austalopithecus, notable for the presence of an intact hyoid bone. But when I read this Washington Post article about the find, I was much more amazed by this piece of information:

The remains also confirm how much of a hybrid these creatures were between humans and apes.
(Rob Stein, The Washington Post)

An ape-human hybrid? Now that’s the bigger story here, and it hardly even got a mention! I gather that australopithecines did not precede human beings, as previously thought; in fact, it was the other way around. And not only that; humans actually bred with apes to produce these austalopithecines!

The article also had a confusing quotation from Fred Spoor of University College in London:

“Even though it’s a very early human ancestor, she would sound more apelike than humanlike,” [Spoor] said.

First of all, this completely contradicts the proposition that australopithecines were ape-human hybrids, as already discussed. And second, even if we stipulate that humans did descend from australopithecines, this particular Austalopithecus was nobody’s ancestor, since she died when she was about three years old. This reminds me of the nature guy who was entertaining people at a recent festival we went to. He was holding up a deer skull and asking, “Now who can tell me, was this a mommy deer or a daddy deer?”

“You can’t tell,” I said.

“A daddy deer!” he told me with excitement. “See the antlers?”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “But how do you know he ever had any babies?”

5 Responses to “Ape-Human Hybrid!”

  1. Glen said

    An ape-human hybrid? Now that’s the bigger story here, and it hardly even got a mention!

    Actually, that’s not quite so far out as it seems. See my post here..

  2. Neal said

    Sorry I forgot about that post. You’re right; other hybrids have been claimed to be part of the course of human evolution. But this is the first time I’ve seen Australopithecus judged to be one of them!

  3. “Is this a boy deer or a girl deer” would be more typical for a kid that age (though you probably knew that, judging by your “babies” question). Sounds like an assumption I made when I was a girl, that people only ate “girl chickens” because all of them had breasts…*blush*

  4. Austalopithecus
    australopithecines
    austalopithecines
    australopithecines
    australopithecines
    Austalopithecus
    Australopithecus

    I can’t find any pattern to the presence or absence of in your spellings, but the alternation is quite striking.

  5. I love this blog!!! You are all so witty!

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