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Jurassic genitals and early humans



Now THAT'S an interesting subject heading...

Decided to group a couple of responses together:

Richard W Travsky asked, in reference to the Jurassic dino belly print:
>
>Not to seem too pruient minded, but did this (or other similar
>impressions) exhibit any sign of genitalia?
>
As they were not therian mammals, dinosaurs almost certainly kept the
genitals internalized, with only a single opening (cloaca) for the
urogenital and digestive tracts.  Or, to put it another way, dino "dangly
bits" didn't dangle, except when in use.  This is one of the reasons that
"chicken sexer" has been a very important, if not respected, occupation
among agricultural communities.

Furthermore, as seen from Scipionyx, the cloaca is posterior to the ischium
(as it is for verts in general), so even the cloaca wouldn't be expected to
make an imprint on the sediment from the position the critter was in.  (It
seems as if the impression might extend up to the end of the ischium, but
probably not further: otherwise, you'd see a tail print as well).

On a totally unrelated subject, Allan Edels wrote:
>    Cro Magnon, at one point in the past 15 years was thought to be a
>dead-end line of _Homo sapiens_, just like Neanderthals.  They had larger
>braincase sizes than most of the _Homo sapiens sapiens_ do today, and they
>were taller than most humans until this past century.  This theory is not
>currently supported.

I cannot think of a reference in the last 100 years, much less the last 15,
which implied that Cro Magnon was other than a good old fashioned _Homo
sapiens sapiens_.  Yes, they were taller on average than most Europeans
(Masai-sized), and consequently had bigger brains than average Europeans
(but only the expected brain size for a modern human of that same size).
Nevertheless, as far as I have read, they have universally been regarded as
simply a culture of people, just as the Ainu or Inuit or the Tasmanians or
the Caribs or the Hittites are or were a culture of people.  Like some
cultures, they had some distinctive physical characteristics.  Like some
cultures, they do not seem to have been with us, and may have in fact been
wiped out or assimilated.  However, they have not been regarded as a
different species or subspecies of humans.

>    Neanderthals (remember NOT to pronounce the 'h') are by most current
>standards _Homo sapiens neanderthalus_.

Minor correction, it is "_neanderthalensis_".

Major correction, most paleoanthropologists working today consider
Neanderthalers a distinct species (_H. neanderthalensis_).  There are some
profound morphological differences between Neanderthalers and all living
human populations.  And, before someone writes in, this is NOT due to the
fact that some of the first material found was arthritic: the differences in
these cases have to do with features found throught Neanderthaler
populations.  The genetic study Allan mentioned, if substantiated, helps to
confirm this difference, but it has been well established on morphological
grounds.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661