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Early hominid posture and locomotion. By John T. Robinson. xi + 361 pp. figures tables bibliography index. University of Chicago Press Chicago. 1972. $15

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teen descriptive and comparative chapters
and a final chapter of broad theorizations
and concluding inferences.
In the preamble, Robinson details the
rationale for the nomenclature that he
employs in the work. He reaffirms his
Habitual bipedalism is a principal hall- longstanding belief that there were two
mark of man. Its morphological and neu- genera of “australopithecines” in South
rological bases and phylogeny have com- Africa. He retains the nomen Paranthropus
manded the attention of many eminent for the more robust form but sinks the
morphologists, kinesiologists, and evolu- gracile form in Homo under the specific
tionary anthropologists. Discoveries and nomen Homo africanus. He also previews
monographic descriptions of postcranial his conclusion that Homo africanus is
materials that might document the phy- more similar to Homo erectus and Homo
logeny of hominid bipedalism have lagged sapiens than to Paranthropus. Indeed
behind accountings of cranial remains of Paranthropus is advanced as an “apelike”
predecessor of Homo africanus. He notes
the early Hominidae.
Robinson has rendered valuable service (p. 4) “considerable resemblance” and
to the scientific community by setting down proper geochronological relationships to
detailed descriptions of postcranial re- justify Gigantopithecus bilaspurensis as
mains of early hominids from South Africa a transitional form between the great apes
and sharing his current functional and and Paranthropus. He dismisses Ramaphylogenetic interpretations of them. Al- pithecus from the Hominidae. He admits
though in succeeding paragraphs I will that the evidence for this phylogenetic
be quite critical of several aspects of the scheme is not well-founded (p. 5). Neverpiece, this should not deter highly moti- theless he erects a new hominid subfamvated colleagues from working through it ily, the Paranthropinae, to reflect the
to extract information for their own re- presumed special affinities of Gigantopithsearch and teaching. It might serve as the ecus and Paranthropus. The morphology
basis for laboratory exercises if instruc- of the Paranthropinae suggests that they
tors carefully prepare guidelines to pilot inhabited grassy woodland habitats and
students toward proper combinations of had lifeways more apelike (i.e., lacking
text, figures, and tables and if they have significant hunting or cultural activity)
hominoid osteological materials and casts than manlike. They sought trees for shelof the fossils available. It could be obfus- ter and some food but spent much time on
cating to all but the most advanced free- the ground exploiting vegetable foods that
required oral crushing and grinding. They
lance students.
The preface contains a “pre-ramble” employed erect posture with moderate efon the nonuse of multivariate statistical ficiency (p. 7).
analysis (ix-x). It would be unreasonable
The Hominidae originated on the dry
to demand that the author follow this fad plains in response to selection for hunting
(which in the hands of a few practitioners and concomitant “cultural” activities.
may generate provocative results) in addi- Erect posture became so refined that quadtion to or in lieu of publishing a firsthand rupedal activities were no longer practicdescription of the remains. Simpson-Roe- able. Consequently, the hominines abanLewontinesque statistics still have descrip- doned the trees. Cultural behavior became
tive value in paleoanthropology. One need so overriding that Robinson questions
not apologize at length for their employ- “whether hominines should be included
in the classificatory system that encomThe text consists of a preamble, thir- passes paranthropines and all other living
pp., figures, tables, bibliography, index.
University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
1972. $15.00 (cloth).
AM. J. PHYS. ANTHROP.,43: 153-158.
organisms” (p. 8). Fortunately, this passage from the terrestrial to the celestial
is momentary.
The descriptive chapters (2, 3, 6, 8, 9,
10, 12, 13, 14) begin with listings of “material.” This is quite informative. One is
immediately struck by the impoverishment
of the empirical base upon which functional and evolutionary hypotheses might
be structured. This is particularly true of
Paranthropus. The apparent unusually
small size of the best preserved individual
of Homo africanus (Sts 14) should also be
quite troublesome to evolutionary theorists.
Robinson focuses on the lower limb, especially the pelvis, in his analyses because
the majority of fossil bits are from this
region and they would be expected most
reasonably to reflect bipedal positional
activities. But the reader soon encounters
a stopper par excellence in joining this
adventure. On page 24 Robinson explains
that many of the pelvic measurements
that he employed are not standard ones.
He refers the reader to a key on page 264.
It is blank. The key will be found on page
354, buried amidst the figures and far
removed from the tables to which i t pertains (pp. 265-273).
The text is generally tedious because of
an inordinate amount of repetition of factual and interpretive points. Treating the
figures as back matter also contributes to
the tediousness of the work. I found the
initiation of some major interpretative sections with lengthy counterpunches toward
the ideas (some of them vintage) of previous authors somewhat more distractive
than elucidative. I would prefer to read
straightforward firsthand functional interpretations followed by thorough comparisons with other models.
Robinson repeats the overgeneralization
that pongids cannot “as a rule” completely straighten the lower limb and concludes
therefrom that “erect walking in a pongid
requires a great deal of energy” (p. 73).
While the latter statement may be true the
former is falsified by the fact that many
juvenile and adult orangutans and gorillas
can stand bipedally with extended and
even hyperextended hip and knee joints.
Robinson’s functional interpretation is
hampered by the incomplete nature of
EMG studies not only on pongid apes but
also on man. For example, (p. 81) he is
forced to speculate about some functions
of the human gluteus maximus muscle.
His suggestion that it is used in copulation should be followed up by EMG studies.
There should be little difficulty obtaining
volunteers for kinesiological experiments
on this highly variable activity.
Inferences about relative size in Homo
africanus and Paranthropus are also
fraught with difficulties. Robinson
“guesses” that females of the former
weighed 40-60 pounds while “Paranthrop u s individuals probably weighed three or
four times as much.” He suggests that
H . africanus was four to four and one-half
feet tall whereas Paranthropus was no
more than five feet tall (p. 154). Both were
pot-bellied and broad-beamed. If Paranthropus achieved the upper limits of Robinson’s expectations they might have been
avoirdupoidal rollers instead of bipeds or
knuckle-walk ers.
My overview impression is that Robinson’s scheme of hominid evolution still
must rest primarily on the cranial evidence. It does not emerge more upstanding from the postcranial evidence as presented in Early Hominid Posture and
University of Chicago
LOCOMOTION.Edited by Farish
A. Jenkins. Jr. xii
390 pp., figures,
tables, bibliography, index. Academic
Press, New York. 1974. $34.00 (cloth).
Primates move in unusually diverse and
complex ways. Study of their locomotion
has emerged as a subject of disproportionate interest and difficulty. Such parameters as force, stress, excursion, and timing
are arduous to analyze in the laboratory
and so far have defied measurement in the
field. The challenge is inviting. Also, primate locomotion is studied in search of
clues to our own past.
This book is one of several recent works
that provide a window through which to
glimpse the state of the field: its methods
and accomplishments and also its frustrations and controversies. The preface hopefully states that “the book is intended not
only for researchers dealing with primate
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1972, 361, figuren, university, robinson, index, chicago, bibliography, john, early, locomotive, tablet, pres, hominis, posture
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