[Top] [All Lists]

Re: Explain 'Little Lucy's deposition?

Subject: Re: Explain 'Little Lucy's deposition?
From: "Paul Crowley"
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2006 22:17:57 +0100
Newsgroups: sci.anthropology.paleo
"Gerrit Hanenburg" <[email protected]> wrote in message 
news:[email protected]

> "Paul Crowley" <[email protected]> wrote:
>>> Anyone with a basic knowledge of anatomy can explain the position of
>>> the scapulae as a result of the arms being extended away from the body
>>> at the time of burial, as in a natural death pose (e.g. drowning
>>> victim).

I understand that you now reject this position
Is that correct?

>>You can't pop up your scapula now.
>>Almost no drowned corpses are seen
>>in this state -- unless they have been
>>in the water for some time and a fair
>>amount of decomposition has taken
>>For Little Lucy to finish up in the state
>>we see her, as the result of natural
>>processes, a sequence of extremely
>>improbable events would be required -- 
>>a set so unlikely as to be not worthy of
>>serious consideration. Firstly, she
>>would have had to die in some manner
>>(possibly drowned).  After a fair amount
>>of decomposition, she would have to be
>>'rolled-up in a ball' -- with both hands at
>>her throat and her arms neatly folded at
>>her sides.  Then pressure was applied to
>>her head which, in turn, forced her hands
>>and forearms down, but her elbows were
>>prevented from moving backwards, so
>>her scapula popped up.  Then she got
>>A most unlikely sequence of events.
> I'm pretty sure that is not what happened. The fact that the limb
> elements were recovered separately from the main block already
> indicates that they were not folded against the body.

Wrong.  In 3-year-old infants the elbow
consists of separate bones (not yet fused
together).  The tiny ones nearest the chest
were found 'glued' to it.  The location of
both hands is also known -- at the infant's
throat.  I thought the arms were in place
but, even if not, there is no doubt where
they were originally in the fossil.

> Take a look at the photographs in figure 1 in the Nature paper on the
> Dikika find. The scapulae are not so much displaced laterally as
> cranially. The glenoid fossa is at a level halfway the mandibular
> ramus. No way that could have been the result of manipulation of a
> fresh corpse. Such can only happen when there complete soft tissue
> decomposition. By that time the individual must already have been
> covered by sediments. The displacement looks like a result of normal
> sediment mechanics (in particular compaction).

Compaction would also have applied
pressure to the shoulders.  In any case,
the presence of any solid material would
have prevented the flipping up of the

> I'm pretty sure Jeff Hecht is an honest guy, but his informal "rolled
> into a ball" may not be a proper representation of the state of the
> fossil.

It is a simple and straightforward
statement.  You have no good reason
to doubt it.

> There is no mention of it in the formal announcement in
> Nature. What he may have been referring to is the displacement of the
> postcranium toward the cranium, such that the scapulae are almost in
> contact with the cranial base.

That has nothing to do with 'rolled
into a ball'.

> That is not a condition that could have
> been achieved deliberately in a fresh cadaver. It is postdepositional
> deformation.

Agreed.  It is, highly probably, the result
of the infant being buried in a hole in the
ground, sitting in an upright position, with
her hands placed in the position we see.
A flat stone may have covered the hole.
In any case, pressure on the head forced
the hands and arms down.  But empty
space around the shoulders was needed
to allow the scapula to rise up.  That could
easily happen in the case of a deliberate
burial.  It is almost inconceivable in an
accidental one.

The same applies to whole disposition
of the fossil.  It is entirely contrived.
It could not be less natural. You will
never see a naturally disposed corpse
in such a position.  Her parents might
as well have put her in on display in a
funeral parlour.

Of course, standard PA types, like you,
can always find some excuse for ignoring
the evidence.


<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>