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This is Freedom Essay 22


Fossil discoveries evidence our nurtured origins


This essay, which is drawn from chapter 5:5 of Jeremy Griffith’s book FREEDOM, looks at recent astonishing fossil discoveries, particularly those of the 4.5 million year old Ardipithecus, and how these fossils evidence not only humanity’s cooperative heritage but confirm that it was the love-indoctrination process that made us human.


Various ardipithecenes standing in natural environment

Artist’s reconstruction of the 4.4 mya Ardipithecus ramidus in its natural habitat
(Painting by paleoartist Jay H. Matternes)


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To recap, in the previous Freedom Essay (F. Essay 21) it was explained that our primate ancestors developed our altruistic, unconditionally selfless, cooperative and loving moral instincts through the nurturing-based, love-indoctrination process. It is explained that while a mother’s maternal instinct to care for her offspring is selfish (as genetic traits normally have to be for them to reproduce and carry on into the next generation), from the infant’s perspective the maternalism has the appearance of being selfless. From the infant’s perspective, it is being treated unconditionally selflesslythe mother is giving her offspring food, warmth, shelter, support and protection for apparently nothing in return. So it follows that if the infant can remain in infancy for an extended period and be treated with a lot of seemingly altruistic love, it will be indoctrinated with that selfless love and grow up to behave accordinglyand over many generations that behaviour will become instinctive because genetic selection will inevitably follow and reinforce any development process occurring in a species; the difficulty was in getting the development of unconditional selflessness to occur in the first place, for once it was regularly occurring it would naturally become instinctive over time. And being semi-upright from living in trees, and thus having their arms free to hold a dependent infant, it was the primates who have been especially facilitated to develop this nurtured, loving, cooperative nature. This is how our primate ancestors developed our moral conscience.

F. Essay 21 also examines how the bonobo variety of chimpanzees, the most cooperative and loving of all non-human primates, evidences the love-indoctrination processas well as how closely they resemble our early primate ancestor. Included in that essay is the drawing below, which illustrates this similarity.


Comparison of a bonobo skeleton with the early australopithecine

Left side: Bonobo skeleton. Right side: Early australopithecine.
(Drawing by Adrienne L. Zihlman from New Scientist, 1984)


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Although the fossil record has been slow to yield evidence of our ape ancestors who lived during humanity’s infancy (which lasted from some 12 to 4 million years agosee chapter 8 of FREEDOM), very recent discoveries of fossils belonging to our direct ancestors from this period are now confirming the love-indoctrination process. These recently unearthed ancestors are: Sahelanthropus tchadensis (who lived some 7 million years ago and is thought to be the first representative of the human line after we diverged from humans’ and chimpanzees’ last common ancestor); Orrorin tugenensis (who lived some 6 million years ago); and Ardipithecus ramidus (who lived some 4.4 million years ago).


Ardi front on portrait

Artist’s reconstruction of the 4.4 million year old Ardipithecus ramidus (by Jay H. Matternes).
What a relief to see a portrait of our distant ancestors that doesn’t make
them appear brutish and aggressive, but instead innocent and sensitive!


It is worth emphasising that these fossils have all been found very recently. For example, although fragments of Ardipithecus were first discovered by a team led by the anthropologist Tim White in 1992, and their excavation of a largely intact skeleton (which was nicknamed ‘Ardi’) began in 1994, the remains of the skeleton1 of only 6 reasonably complete skeletons of early humans older than 1 million yearswere in such poor condition that it took until 2009 (over 15 years of analysis) for reports to be published. With studies on all of these recently discovered ancestors now becoming available, including the series of 2009 Ardipithecus reports, which the journal Science deemed ‘Breakthrough of the Year’, it is exciting to see that corroborating evidence of the love-indoctrination process that led to the establishment of our extraordinary unconditionally selfless moral instincts is slowly but surely emerging.


Science magazine cover featuring Ardi

‘Breakthrough of the Year’: cover of the December 2009 issue of Science magazine


So, how does this new evidence confirm the love-indoctrination process? How, for instance, does it affect our understanding of the emergence of bipedalism, the first key factor in developing unconditionally selfless moral instincts?

When Jeremy Griffith first put forward the nurturing, ‘love-indoctrination’ explanation for such instincts in 1983, he said, contrary to prevailing views, that because having arms free to hold a dependent infant was necessary to properly love-indoctrinate an infant, it meant bipedalism must have developed early in this nurturing of love process and, it follows, early in our ancestors’ historyand that is precisely what these fossil discoveries now show. Anthropologists are now reporting that ‘Bipedalism is one of very few human characteristics that appears to have evolved at the base of the hominin clade [species more closely related to modern humans than to any other living species]. Recent fossil discoveries have apparently pushed back the origin of the hominin clade into the late Miocene, to 6 to 7 million years ago (Ma). The oldest known potential hominin [human line] fossils [are] attributed to Sahelanthropus tchadensis. (See par. 399 of FREEDOM for quote sources.)


Ardi standing upright beside skeleton

Reconstruction of Ardipithecus ramidus showing its bipedality (by Jay H. Matternes)


Fossils of Ardipithecus confirm that bipedalism was well established by 4.4 million years ago, with studies of ‘Ardi’ (the relatively intact skeleton) leading the prominent anthropologist C. Owen Lovejoy to conclude that Ar. ramidus was fully capable of bipedality and had evolved a substantially modified pelvis and foot with which to walk upright’. Furthermore, Lovejoy confirmed the long history of bipedalism that preceded Ar. ramidus when he said that Ar. ramidus has been bipedal for a very long time. (See par. 401 of FREEDOM for quote sources.)

Along with bipedalism, the second requirement for love-indoctrination to occur is the existence of ideal nursery conditions, namely an environment that provides uninterrupted access to food, shelter and territory. The scientific community’s traditional view has been that the factor in our ancestral history that propelled our ancestor’s development beyond that of the other apes was their movement onto the savannah. However, in light of the fossil evidence that has emerged in the last decade or so (and in the 30 years since Jeremy first proposed the nurturing, love-indoctrination explanation), the scientific community now widely accepts that this separation of our human ancestors from other primates occurred while our ancestors lived in forests and woodlands, where food is plentiful and trees provide shelter and refuge from predatorsthe specific environment Jeremy identified as being required for the love-indoctrination process to begin.


Kibwesi forest in Kenya

Kibwesi Forest, Kenya – ‘the best modern analog’ for the habitat of
Ardipithecus ramidus (Gibbons 2009, ’Habitat for Humanity’, Science 326:40).


While Sahelanthropus fossils are so limited they don’t provide the information needed to confirm that they were adapted to climbing trees and thus lived in forests or woodlands, reconstructions of their environment have narrowed Sahelanthropus’ habitat to ‘a mosaic of environments from gallery forest at the edge of a lake area to a dominance of large savannah and grassland’. As we move forward in time to Orrorin some 6 million years ago, its skeletal structure shows tree climbing adaptations, which clearly point to them living in an arboreal habitat. Further, associated animal and plant fossils have allowed scientists to infer that Orrorin tugenensis may have evolved in well wooded to forested conditions margining lakes and streams with open country-side in the vicinity’; and that ‘the surroundings of the site were probably open woodland, while the presence of several specimens of colobus monkeys indicate that there were denser stands of trees in the vicinity, possibly fringing the lake margin and streams that drained into the lake’. Forest and woodlands continued to be the preferred habitat of Ar. ramidus some 4.4 million years ago, as indicated by its retention of tree climbing features such as a pelvis that supported large climbing muscles, flexible wrists that allowed walking on all fours along the top of branches, and an opposable big toe that allowed it to grasp the branches with its feetfeatures that led Tim White to say, Ar. ramidus preferred a woodland-to-forest habitat rather than open grasslands’. In fact, the wealth of surrounding evidence from the Ar. ramidus fossil site in Ethiopia allowed the paleoanthropologist Andrew Hill to remark that ‘There’s so much good data here that people aren’t going to be able to question whether early hominins were living in woodlands’, and fellow researcher Giday WoldeGabriel to state that Ar. ramidus lived ‘in an environment that was humid and cooler than it is today, containing habitats ranging from woodland to forest patches’. Indeed, this ‘good data’ associated with the ‘Ardi’ dig has meant that paleobiologists have been able to reconstruct Ar. ramidus’ habitat to an extraordinary level of detail: ‘Ardi lived on an ancient floodplain covered in sylvan woodlands, climbing among hackberry, fig, and palm trees, and coexisting with monkeys, kudu antelopes, and peafowl’ while ‘doves and parrots flew overhead’. Combine this environment with our knowledge of Ar. ramidus’ diet, which indicates Ar. ramidus was a generalized omnivore and frugivore [fruit eater], and our knowledge of existing ape behaviour, which indicates Ar. ramidus ‘almost certainly slept and fed in trees’, and a picture begins to emerge of the ideal nursery conditions that enabled love-indoctrination to develop. (See par. 403 of FREEDOM for quote sources.)


Painting reconstruction of Ardipithecus in its natural environment by Mauricio Anton

Artist’s impression of Ardipithecus in its environment (by Mauricio Anton)


These ideal nursery conditions also refute the long-held nurturing-avoiding theory, espoused by E.O. Wilson amongst others, that upright walking supposedly developed when our ancestors moved out onto the savannah. A member of the ‘Ardi’ team stated that, Ar. ramidus did not live in the open savanna that was once envisioned to be the predominant habitat of the earliest hominids’. In fact, the evidence that bipedality developed in ‘forest or wooded environments’ is now so conclusive that scientists are able to assert that ‘Savannas had nothing to do with upright walking’. Yes, because the development of bipedality is closely associated with the love-indoctrination process it had to have occurred while our ancestors were inhabiting ideal nursery conditions, which clearly suggested an arboreal environmentas Jeremy maintained when he originally put forward the love-indoctrination process in 1983. (See par. 404 of FREEDOM for quote sources.)

These recent fossil discoveries also confirm the third requirement for love-indoctrination to occur: the presence and influence of more maternal mothers. Scientists are able to deduce a remarkable amount of information about the social behaviour of our ancestors from their fossils, and, as a result of this evidence, are now beginning to acknowledge that they exhibited low levels of aggression toward one another, and that females were not only not dominated by males, they actually dictated mate choice by selecting to reproduce with non-aggressive, cooperative maleshallmarks you would expect of a society highly focused on maternal nurturing of their infants. (As is explained in F. Essay 21, the bonobos, our closest living relative, are nurturing, peaceful and matriarchal, in marked contrast to the male-dominated, often violent, common chimpanzees.)


Images of bonobos nurturing their infants

Like that of our early ancestors, bonobos society is matriarchal,
with the focus on the nurturing of infants


The first striking evidence provided by the fossil record to support these deductions is that these early humans had small canine teeth: ‘male canine size and prominence were dramatically reduced by ~ 6 to 4.4 Ma’. This is relevant because ‘canines function as weapons in interindividual aggression in most anthropoid species’, particularly in aggressive male-to-male sexual competition for mating opportunities, and so small canines indicate minimal levels of social aggression. This connection is well established, with primatologists saying, ‘It has long been evident that body and canine size are good indicators of the intensity of male-male competition’. (See par. 406 of FREEDOM for quote sources.)


Comparison between human, chimpanzee and ardipithecus canines

Human (left), Ardipithecus (middle), male chimpanzee (right)
(‘Paleobiological Implications of the Ardipithecus ramidus Dentition’, Science, 200, Vol. 326, No.5949)


Furthermore, comparisons of canine size in Ar. ramidus with current apes have allowed scientists to extrapolate that Ar. ramidus males ‘retained virtually no anatomical correlates of male-to-male conflict’, a situation that would also apply to our earlier ancestors Sahelanthropus and Orrorin since they too had small canines. Given that the reality of the animal kingdom involves fierce competition between sexually reproducing individuals seeking to reproduce their genes, this reduction in aggressive male competition for mating opportunities is an extremely significant anomaly, as Lovejoy recognises: ‘Loss of the projecting canine raises other vexing questions because this tooth is so fundamental to reproductive success in higher primates. What could cause males to forfeit their ability to aggressively compete with other males?’. A 1992 paper articulated the confusion that has surrounded the evolution of human canine reduction, stating that ‘the issue of human canine evolution has continued to be controversial and apparently intractable’. And the new discoveries have only increased this confusion. But as we can now see, the answer to the ‘vexing’ and ‘apparently intractable’ question of ‘what could cause males to forfeit their ability to aggressively compete with other males’ is the love-indoctrination process.

As will be explained below, conscious sexual or mate selection by females for less competitive, less aggressive, more integrative males developed to assist, speed up and help maintain love-indoctrination’s development of integration. Indeed, male competition for mating opportunities is so ‘fundamental to reproductive success’ that only active sexual selection against it can account for its reduction, as is made clear in this quote: ‘Canine reduction did not result from a relaxation of selection pressure for large canines, but rather a positive selection against them’. Indeed, it has become so apparent that canine reduction could only be caused by ‘a positive selection against them’ that the importance of sexual selection is now being recognised by leading anthropologists such as Lovejoy, Gen Suwa, Berhane Asfaw, Tim White and others, who write, ‘In modern monkeys and apes, the upper canine is important in male agonistic [aggressive] behavior, so its subdued shape in early hominids and Ar. ramidus suggests that sexual selection played a primary role in canine reduction. Thus, fundamental reproductive and social behavioral changes probably occurred in hominids long before they had enlarged brains and began to use stone tools’. (See par. 407 of FREEDOM for quote sources.)


Bonobo female Lana walking upright carrying a branch

A bonobo female displays her dominance by
dragging a branch. Note also the bipedality.


As these authors make clear, the reduction in canine size was such a remarkable achievement that it required ‘fundamental reproductive and social behavioral changes’ in which ‘sexual selection played a primary role’. These scientists are describing a society that switched from being patriarchaldominated by male sexual selection with males aggressively competing for mating opportunitiesto matriarchal, dictated by female sexual selection where females choose mates that are less aggressive. However, what these scientists don’t explain is the only mechanism that could allow such a switch: love-indoctrination. This remarkable reversal where females are empowered, and males ‘forfeit their ability to aggressively compete with other males’, is discussed in more detail in chapter 6 of FREEDOM; however, it is sufficient to emphasise at this point that the fossil record is increasingly providing compelling evidence that female sexual selection was occurring very early in human history, at least as early as Sahelanthropus some 7 million years ago, and that it ‘emerged in concert with habituation to bipedality’ (See par. 408 of FREEDOM), which again is in accord with love-indoctrination, all of which Jeremy first predicted in 1983.

So the three requirements of the love-indoctrination process of bipedality, ideal nursery conditions and selection for more maternal mothers are now being dramatically confirmed by the fossil record. However, as is explained in F. Essay 21, the problem with this nurturing, true explanation is that it has been an unbearably confronting, exposing truth for our present human-condition-afflicted human race that has been so unable to adequately nurture our infants to the extent our instincts expect. As such, this new evidence has left those scientists who continue to deny the importance of nurturing in our development in a predicament in which they are forced to ask the right questions even though they are ‘vexing’, but refuse to acknowledge the truthful answer, because until the human condition was explained nurturing was an off-limits subject. The following passage from Lovejoy exemplifies this predicament: ‘Why did early hominids become the only primate to completely eliminate the sectorial canine complex [large projecting canines that are continuously sharpened against a lower molar]? Why did they become bipedal, a form of locomotion with virtually no measurable mechanical advantage?…​These are now among the ultimate questions of human evolution’. Lovejoy further reduced these ‘ultimate questions’ to this one, final sentence that admits the reality of a cooperative past: ‘Even our species-defining cooperative mutualism can now be seen to extend well beyond the deepest Pliocene [well beyond 5.3 million years ago].

Yes, the great outstanding mystery for biologists has been how could the cold, selfish, competitive, gene-based natural selection process have possibly created such warm, unconditionally selfless, cooperative, loving instincts in us humans? But to answer that question of questions required the explanation of the human condition that would finally make sense of why we haven’t been able to adequately nurture our infantsbecause with that compassionate insight it at last becomes psychologically safe to admit that nurturing is what made us human, thus allowing these ‘ultimate questions of human evolution’ to be answered. (See par. 410 of FREEDOM for quote sources.)


Left: Photograph of bonobos Matata and her adopted son, Kanzi. Right: Drawing of Madonna and Infant


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As mentioned at the end of previous F. Essay 21, with the origins of our moral soul now explained and evidenced, the next question begging to be answered is, why did humans become conscious when other animals haven’t? A summary of the answer to this other great question in biology will be presented in two essays’ time in F. Essay 24; and the reason it won’t be in the next essay is because to explain how humans became conscious it’s first necessary to explain that there is an integrative direction, purpose and meaning to existencethe explanation of which will be provided in the next essay, F. Essay 23.

Note that you can also read much more in chapter 5 of FREEDOM about the love-indoctrination process; and see also F. Essay 53 for a wonderful collection of mythological and historical descriptions of our species’ past time of innocence.


Discussion or comment on this essay is welcomedsee below.




These essays were created in 2017-2019 by Jeremy Griffith, Damon Isherwood, Fiona
Cullen-Ward, Brony FitzGerald & Lee Jones of the Sydney WTM Centre. All filming and
editing of the videos was carried out by Sydney WTM members James Press & Tess Watson
during 2017-2019. Other members of the Sydney WTM Centre are responsible for the
distribution and marketing of the videos/​essays, and for providing subscriber support.



Please note, we encourage constructive discussion about this information and so reserve the right to moderate or decline posts that we feel are not relevant or inappropriate. In particular, with the subject of the human condition being so confronting, malice can easily occur, and where comments are deemed to be motivated not by objectivity but by malice, they will be declined. It has to be appreciated that the possibility of malice toward this subject matter is very real, and we have a responsibility to manage that as best we can.

  • RJ on July 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this anthropological part of Freedom. The mechanistic detail the recent scientific evidence now provides for our primate past, for example the 4.4m yrs old Ar. ramidus’ environment, diet and behaviour is fascinating. It also gives a very notable example of Jeremy Griffith’s holistic and denial-free thinking, as the anthropological evidence now found for bipedalism, ideal nursery conditions, more maternal mothers, small canines etc., only confirms the ‘love-indoctrination’ process that he first put forward in 1983; a process that as described above actually explains what made us human. Knowing what I do, now I have read Freedom, and learned about ‘Ardi’ and the other individuals anthropologists have unearthed and what they confirm regarding our collective infancy I find a deeply humbling experience. What an extraordinary journey humanity has been on.

  • Jimmy on July 15, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Extraordinary email. Jeremy Griffith first published his love indoctrination theory in 1983 and only now is the scientific establishment catching up, fossil by fossil and discovery by discovery. Then again history shows a similar pattern for lone genius’, from Galileo to Darwin. Tremendous achievement to get this theory up and to stick by it through such fierce opposition

  • Matt on November 30, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    This is wonderful confirmation of Griffith’s theory. The more they are discovering the more it fits like a glove. I was directed to read a book about the Aquatic Ape theory recently (which I am not saying is correct or that anything rests on it either way) but there was a passage in which the author said that a problem that early anthropologists had when studying our 3 closest living primates – chimps, orangutans and gorillas, was that they were all so timid, and they couldn’t find anything that resembled our own terrible behavior! They would have been even more flummoxed if they had looked at bonobos!

  • Anna on December 2, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Intriguing to see all the evidence stacking up on the love indoctrination explanation for human evolution. All the pieces in the jigsaw fit nicely with the right framework.

  • Tommy on January 9, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    This is just such wonderful stuff, and so interesting! Love indoctrination is AMAZING! I honestly cannot wait until this is what every child is taught in school. Imagine lovingly being taught the truth about our world from day one?! Now Freedom has finally defended and redeemed humanity and we can all come out of ‘the cave’ where we’ve been hiding in such terror of confrontation and guilt, everything is explained and everything is possible and saved!

  • Vibeke Larsen on January 22, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    Hi and thank you – Very inspiring and also confirm what life shows. To være and to take care van and must win anything else human life Will die out.

  • Fernando Fragoso on May 14, 2018 at 1:53 am

    A very nice study. I am athonish.


    Fernando Fragoso.

  • sally brofos on December 28, 2018 at 7:34 pm


  • John tembo on March 16, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Very interesting story of bononbo this animals nose love but people we have problem we don’t have true love thank you Jeremy Griffith for this interesting story am happy

  • cuauhtémoc molina monroy on March 27, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    Me hizo pensar sobre el arquetipo de las relaciones amorosas entre las damas y caballeros medievales en la segunda edad media donde las damas elegían a los caballeros que competían para lograr su gracia.
    Entonces la damas lo primero que hacían era cultivarse para atraer al caballero más competente.
    Según Ortega y Gasset a las damas les tocaba cultivar el SER, ser por si mismas, y a los caballeros hacer….
    Ser y hacer son dos cosas distintas , a las mujeres les tocaba atraer al mejor para amarlo y ya mucho después ser madre , esposa y garantizar la protección de la familia.
    Parecería ser que a la mujer le toca trasmitir la conciencia moral de la especie y al hombre la conciencia instrumental para la conservación de la especie. El hombre se comporta más de acuerdo a la teoría de la competencia darwiniana; y la mujer de acuerdo a la teoría de la trasmisión de la competencia moral….

    • Susan Susan on March 29, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Cuauhtémoc, To understand the huge differences between men and women, why men are more egocentric and women more soul sympathetic for example, and the whole relationship between the sexes we recommend you read Freedom Essays 26 and 27.

  • adrian on June 14, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    very interesting. answers one of my questions in comments on essay 4, as in historical evidence of the evolutionary development of a strong predilection towards nurturing traits.

  • Agyapah on June 20, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Hard to dispute the essay

  • Blink! on June 20, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    My word!
    Firstly I stumbled over the the words now I starts seeing the light thank you once again.
    Yes it’s a must read sorry I will start over again.
    Thank you!

  • PAA Vale on August 13, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    In the jungles of Indonesia there are more than ten tribes. There is still a tribe which are non-aggressive, without big canine teeth, who are vegans and fruitarians. They are very friendly towards humans and other non-aggressive tribes. The other more civilized tribes, especially refer to them in the Malay language as ‘ORANG HUTHAN’, when this name is directly translated in English it means ‘Person Jungle’, (Jungle Person). This animal has no tail and they have broad cheeks, and they are clever in making broad leaves cover to protect themselves from rain. A number of people living in Indonesia do also have broad and extended jaws resembling them, may be a number of years back, they may have inherited the genes of the Orang Huthan through unavoidable natural activities.

  • jamesmoffett on January 31, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Brilliant knowledge: totally absorbing, understandable and enlightening essay on and about our nurturing origins. Jeremy Griffith’s foresight, investigation, searching, continuous research and refining of the nurturing subject, inductively and holistically, despite “massive shoals of red herrings”, is off the charts of intellectual intelligence AND emotional intelligence: a rare, very rare individual. Much, much appreciation!

  • John mays on March 22, 2020 at 4:32 am

    I am not wanting to disagree , but personally believe that God created us as we are , not coming from a species .

  • imelda doyle on April 23, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    When i first read FREEDOM the acceptance of it’s truth came from an ‘inner knowing’ gut, heart and soul.
    I am delighted as I read these essays to get a better understanding of how this took shape from a scientific
    view. It deepens my understanding and acceptance.
    Thank you :)

  • Deepak Bhatt on July 6, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    If we observe when any Mother(woman with child) in Bus,Park or any other public places other woman will attract towards child & starts to support by helping her when in need. As mentioned in essay it is by instinct of motherhood. As we learned in earlier essay this instinct has to change into conscious Love,Cooperation & other virtues. If anyone is in trouble & from family member,friend or office coworker tells him “Don’t worry I am with you.” This few words without any motive gives peace to the mind. These are the examples what benefit Humans can get in if we start to Love & Cooperate each other & become inclusive.Let develop Humanity as a transform state day by day & progress towards peace & loving society. Thanks to Jeremy Griffith & WTM Team.