Avatar for Big_Nick

Big_Nick

Member since Jul 2009 • Last active Aug 2021
  • 14 conversations
  • 388 comments

Most recent activity

    • 5 comments
    • 149 views
  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
    Avatar for Big_Nick

    As I've said before, I strongly suspect that Neanderthal populations were always small, certainly much smaller than the populations stemming from the sub-tropics of northern Africa, where I suspect populations exploded in size at some point (conditions there probably being ideal for humans until the environment began to deteriorate), or at least caused sufficient overpopulation to cause waves of migration--the main reason why there was such a long gap between the migrations of groups who made up the Neanderthal population being the Mediterranean.

    Yes although they were extraordinarily successful as a species with a timeline of close to a million years - so we have a way to go yet .

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
    Avatar for Big_Nick

    My own take on it is that it absolutely shouldn't require a designation of 'personhood' to stop animal abuse, although I'm very sympathetic to extending our 'circles of meaningful responsibility' based on similarity, especially to Great Apes. It just strikes me that anchoring it in personhood is a pragmatic idea based on the legal systems that exist, and that even were we to extend it to Great Apes, that would implicitly legitimise the slaughter of animals denied the designation. It might well eventually be extended further outwards, but I'd rather we first understood why animals are worthy of a protected status, and I don't just mean mammals, but also birds, fish, and insects.

    Yes it's a very interesting idea is the extension of ethics. There's some provocative thinking around animism that I've been thinking about - It's defined as 'recognising that the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human, and that life is always lived in relationship with others. Animism is lived out in various ways that are all about learning to act respectfully (carefully and constructively)towards and among other persons...Persons are those with whom other persons interact with varying degrees of reciprocity. Persons may be spoken with. Objects by contrast are usually spoken about. Persons are volitional, relational, cultural and social beings. They demonstrate intentionality and agency with varying degrees of autonomy and freedom'. That's a challenging definition of personhood to work with of course !

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
    Avatar for Big_Nick

    No doubt there were differences between Neanderthals, Denisovans, and 'Sapiens' (and I've never understood why differences in brain case size are considered significant), but what I'm mainly concerned with here are definitions, i.e. how much difference is possible within a 'species'.

    Brain case size was a metric/shorthand for intelligence and there is a correlation between cognitive abilities and size/ complexity so early hominids ( think Lucy and the Australopithecines ) did not have the same level of complex reasoning ability that Sapiens, Neanderthals and all the other undiscovered relatives undoubtedly did.
    They were however different species albeit very closely related whereas obviously all living human beings are members of the same species.
    There is evidence of relatively low interbreeding ( I’m going to stick with that as it’s the scientific term, although I share your distaste of its appropriation by those trying to ‘scientifically’ justify their racist nonsense) between Sapiens & Neanderthals shown by the genetic transmission of Neanderthal genes - less than 2% . ‘ We find that observed low levels of Neanderthal ancestry in Eurasians are compatible with a very low rate of interbreeding (<2%), potentially attributable to a very strong avoidance of interspecific matings, a low fitness of hybrids, or both‘.

    https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1107450108

    I think establishing beyond doubt that there have never been any really significant differences between people would help to some extent with the fight against racism.

    Yes absolutely agree and in fact would qualify this to extend the notion of personhood to other forms of life and outwards from Homo Sapiens who as you point out are significantly the same but that is of course another debate

  • in Miscellaneous and Meaningless
    Avatar for Big_Nick

    I was taught by Chris Stringer when I did an Anthropology degree. This was before they had the genetic evidence but the thinking was that there probably had been Sapiens and Neanderthal interbreeding. Technically the article is correct in referring to Denisovans and Neanderthals as different species - I don’t think it’s meant to be derogatory and note that Neanderthals had larger brain cases than Sapiens. There was a famous site where they’d buried a child with flowers which I remember being haunted by as a student so the standard image of the brutish caveman was discredited a long time ago but it’s still a persistent myth. William Golding’s novel The Inheritors is a rethinking of that caveman myth and implies that maybe the ‘wrong’ human species made it to the present.

  • Avatar for Big_Nick

    I've forgotten how to upload a photo again - sigh

  • Avatar for Big_Nick

    If anyone is looking for a weight bench. This is tatty but functional. Collect from Wimbledon.

Actions