A question raised by Ardi/Lucy etc…

It seems when we find a great new discovery such as Ardi, or Lucy, that we seem to have one very good (relatively speaking) fossil, and we make our discoveries, our assumptions, and our statements about our pre-human ancestors off of this one fossil.

How do we know we have not found an aberration?
What if in 4 million years some civilization only finds the skelatal remains of Shaquille O’Neal? Or only finds the remains of somebody with dwarfism? Or the Elephant Man?

Would they believe we are all 7 feet tall? Or less than 4 feet? Or we all had elephantiasis?

I don’t mean to detract from the incredible finds of Lucy and Ardi, or to take away from the amazing research being done, but how do we know? Perhaps there is an answer, I am just unaware of it…

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For more info on Ardi, please check out the videos from Discovery.com

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About Rodibidably

Jeff Randall is a frequent volunteer for free-thought organizations, including the Center For Inquiry – DC. Having been blogging since January 2008, he decided that a community of bloggers would be an interesting new experience (or at the very least a fun way to annoy his friends into reading his posts more frequently). Since finding out about about the existence of, and then joining, the atheist/skeptic community in 2007 he has been committed to community activism, critical thinking in all aspects of life, science, reason, and a fostering a secular society.
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3 Responses to A question raised by Ardi/Lucy etc…

  1. writerdood says:

    I’m guessing, but I think it’s all probably based on the statistical odds. I mean, you consider a certain percentage of a population to be normal, so when you have only one sampling, you have to assume that the odds of that sampling being abnormal are equal to the percentages of abnormal individuals within the given population (although in this case we don’t know that either).

    Bottom line – who knows. Could be a four hundred thousand year old leprechaun.

    • Rodibidably says:

      It seems to me that it’s not LIKELY to be an aberration, but it’s certainly a reasonable enough possibility to cause hesitation.

      For me personally I’d like to see two Lucys or two Ardis found at separate locations before saying “this is what we once were”. I think if you find two or more at separate dig sites then the chance of finding the aberration go down even further, to the point of being an unreasonable assumption.

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