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‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 6  End Play for The Human Race

Chapter 6:7 Fossil evidence of our species’ cooperative past has also been dismissed, ignored or misrepresented by mechanistic science

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Yes, just as the evidence provided by bonobos of our species’ cooperative past has been denied by mechanistic sciencefirst by claiming that our ancestors behaved competitively and aggressively ‘like most ape species’, and, when bonobos clearly didn’t fit that model, by simply ignoring or misrepresenting their anomalous existence altogetherthe fossilised evidence of our cooperative past has also been dismissed as irrelevant and, when that strategy became untenable, it too was simply ignored, misrepresented or accounted for in a dishonest, nurturing-avoiding way.

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For instance, it was stated in chapter 5:5 that the fossil record reveals that our ape ancestors had small canine teeth. Although it was explained there that the only accountable explanation for the reduction in canine size in our ape ancestors is that it was caused by female sexual selection against male mating aggressionthat small canines are ‘indicative of minimal social aggression’mechanistic scientists initially tried to avoid the implications these small canines raised by maintaining that they were only a recent development, and that the fossil record would inevitably produce evidence of an aggressive heritage. For example, in 1915 it was written, ‘That we should discover such a race [a human race in which the canine teeth were pointed, projecting, and shaped as in anthropoid apes], sooner or later, has been an article of faith in the anthropologist’s creed ever since Darwin’s time’ (Sir Arthur Keith, The Antiquity of Man, p.459 of 519). However, as subsequent fossil discoveries pushed back, by millions of years, the age at which our ape ancestors still had small canines it became increasingly difficult to maintain this ‘article of faith’ of an aggressive ‘human race’. As noted in chapter 5:5, there have also been attempts to account for our ancestors’ canine reduction that did not cite a reduction in aggression, but they have also been rendered untenable by these ongoing discoveries, such as by what we now know of their diet.

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So, through the recent discoveries of Ardipithecus, Orrorin, and the 7-million-year-old Sahelanthropus, and the conclusive evidence they provide of our species’ cooperative heritage, it appears that human-condition-avoiding, mechanistic scientists have been cornered into simply ignoring this evidence. For example, Richard Wrangham published the Chimpanzee Violence Hypothesis in 1999, and yet failed to mention the discovery, only 7 years earlier, of Ardipithecusa find that had confirmed the existence of small canines at least 4.4 million years ago. Similarly, E.O. Wilson’s attempt in his 2012 book, The Social Conquest of Earth, to portray war as a ‘universal and eternal’ presence in human history (a claim that was repudiated in chapter 2:11) makes no mention of the fact that small canines characterise our ape ancestors, despite Wilson discussing both Australopithecus and Ardipithecus in his book. In 2009, the popular science magazine Scientific American (a subsidiary of the leading journal Nature) failed to make a single reference to a suite of paperswhich had been some 15 years in the makingon Ardipithecus ramidus that had been published that year in a special edition of Science, ‘the most extensive special issue of Science since Apollo 11(Tim D. White, Letters, Scientific American, 2010, Vol.302, No.1). As Tim White, team leader of the Ardipithecus researchers, asked with justifiable perplexity, ‘How and why did the Scientific American editorial miss that story?’ (ibid). It is as if the fossil evidence of a cooperative past has become too strong to refute but the implications too daunting to acknowledge, rendering the majority of mechanistic scientists speechless. While a handful of scientists have broken the silence since the Ardipithecus discoveries were published, predictably most have done so to deny their cooperative implications on the only grounds left, which is by arguing that Ardipithecus, Orrorin and Sahelanthropus are not part of the human lineage, despite all the evidence indicating that they are.

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And even those who do recognise that these early hominids are part of the human lineage only do so by contriving implausible explanations to account for the characteristics that their fossils reveal, specifically those that were described in chapter 5:5small canines and bipedality. For example, C. Owen Lovejoy (the primary anthropologist on the Ardipithecus research team) and Tim White have put forward what is really an absurdly improbable explanation for the emergence of these traits in the form of the so-called ‘male provisioning model’. This model suggests that our ancestors adopted a monogamous social structure, where females selected for less aggressive males who would provide for them and their offspring in exchange for mating exclusivity, arguing that this selection for less aggressive males accounts for the reduced canines evident in our ancestors, and that their need to carry provisions led to the development of bipedalism. Even denial-compliant, nurturing-avoiding mechanistic scientists are able to point to the weaknesses of the model, with Wrangham, for example, writing that ‘obstacles [to the male provisioning model] include skepticism that a male who left his mate to find food for her could guard her from rival males, the absence of any evidence for home bases, the matter of why females became bipedal, and evidence that australopith life histories resemble those of apes, not of humans as Lovejoy’s scheme implied they should. In addition, no living nonhuman primates exhibit monogamy-within-social-communities’ (Tree of Origin: What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us about Human Social Evolution, ed. Frans de Waal, 2002, pp.134-135 of 320). I could add that in addition to the flaws Wrangham points out, the only monogamous primate in our species’ direct lineage, the gibbon, has very large canines, while bonobos, the species of great ape that most closely resembles our ape ancestor, have the smallest canines and are the most bipedal, characteristics the male provisioning model is meant to explainand yet they are polygamous.

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Yes, mechanistic science’s strategy for dealing with the fossil record’s evidence of a cooperative past has followed a pattern similar to that which was employed to deal with the bonobosfirst denounce the evidence as irrelevant on the false basis that our past is aggressive, and then, when that position becomes untenable, simply ignore the evidenceor, failing that, come up with a fanciful, nurturing-avoiding explanation for it.

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A further point of significance, and one that is raised above, as well as in par. 411, is that the fossil record, particularly the 1992 discovery of Ardipithecus, clearly shows the physical and behavioural similarities between our pre-australopithecine ape ancestors and bonobos. But if bonobos themselves needed to be ignored, it follows that any evidence that links our ancestors to them will be treated the same wayas indeed it has. It should be no surprise that, as de Waal explains in his 2013 book, The Bonobo and the Atheist, ‘a scientist on the Ardi [Ardipithecus] team…​Owen Lovejoy, could think only of chimps as a comparison…​[and yet] The bonobo’s body proportionsits long legs and narrow shouldersseem to perfectly fit the descriptions of Ardi, as do its relatively small canines. Why was the bonobo overlooked?’ (pp.60-61 of 289).