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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
just plain bad journalism?

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/02/12/coolsc.thickskulls/

Are these guys really proposing that H. erectus engaged in head butting contests for access to females? The article says that but seems to contradict itself by merely suggesting having a thick skull is good thing if you're getting your head wacked (no sh*t?) as the evidence from H. erectus skulls seems to show a lot of head trauma. I wonder why (if) they think head butting is the source of the injuries as opposed to trauma from clubs during inter-male or intergroup fighting or just from hunting (these guys didn't have projectiles they had to run up and stab animals to kill them).
 

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It's a theory of one guy.
 

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Not head butting, but ritual head whacking.

The article compared the theorized ritual head clubbing with the head butting of sheep, in terms of mating rituals.

Academia is a strange place, especially in the areas of history and anthro/archaeology. The data is old. To make a name, people look for new things to say about the old data. It is hard to get published saying thing like "what we always thought was the case is the case". Replication doesn't get published much at all anymore. So pressure is on to get published, and to get published people tend to try to overthrow the established theories.

Throw on top of that the fact that the news plucks one thing out of a whole host of things in academic articles and trumpets them. They take out all the qualifiers.

This case is typical news reporting that distills a long argument (a book in this case, or the article based on the book) into a pithy headline.

In this case, it is an interesting idea. I bet there are dozens of anthopologists getting geared up to demolish it. And you will NEVER read any of those critiques on CNN.
 

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The head butt's an overlooked weapon, though.

In my aggressive youth, back when people settled differences without drive-by shootings, I hung out with a couple of recreational fighters. One of them started and finished a lot of fights simultaneously by edging up close, then using his forehead to smash the other guy's nose. Personally, I was way too slow and flinched too much....
 

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Certainly within the realm of possibility. Having lived next door to a college fraternity I can attest that this "ritual" and similar behaviors continue to this very day in some capacity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So, you're saying bad journalism?

I agree, it's just odd that they don't mention WHY the authors think there was ritualized head smashing as opposed to head trauma from warfare, fighting for some other reason than access to females or plain old hunting accidents.
 

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So women choose violent men?

Or do the cavemen and frat boys 'win' them fair and square and therefore may abscond with them regardless of her choosing?

Why don't we just blame women for not takeing more initiative in the selection process. They should be more aggressive in seeking mates. Then we could all get on with the business of mating instead of butting heads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You can't think about an issue like this in modern terms at all. Clearly most western (if not all) societies mating behavior is so far removed from any kind of natural selection type pressures due to our behavioral flexibility and value systems that symbolic thought allows us to engage in.

Remember in the "natural" world of H. erectus there were no police and the rule of strength was all that mattered. If erectus was pair-bonding as all modern humans do, then naturally it would behoove (sp?) a female to pick the male most capable of protecting her and her offspring from other violent H. erectus groups or individuals and to provide food via hunting for them. The other great apes don't pair bond, nor do males provide food for their offspring (although male chimps do trade hunted meat for sex with females, or is it that females trade sex for meat?). I've been out of the field for so long I don't know what people think about the social structure of these guys or if there is even any evidence to base some theories on.
 

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After millions of years, men still go clubbing to pick up chicks.









I needed a backhoe to dredge this thread.
 

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"Roofies fixed all these mating issues,... " - Bill Cosby?

2004 is impressive. I think I still considered myself an athlete back then.
 

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just plain bad journalism?

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/02/12/coolsc.thickskulls/

Are these guys really proposing that H. erectus engaged in head butting contests for access to females? The article says that but seems to contradict itself by merely suggesting having a thick skull is good thing if you're getting your head wacked (no sh*t?) as the evidence from H. erectus skulls seems to show a lot of head trauma. I wonder why (if) they think head butting is the source of the injuries as opposed to trauma from clubs during inter-male or intergroup fighting or just from hunting (these guys didn't have projectiles they had to run up and stab animals to kill them).
Not beyond the realm of possibility. There are modern indigenous populations that settle things by taking turns wacking each other on the head with long poles.

Sort of hard to test scientifically, though.
 

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'member Afa & Sika The wild Samoans? Man, them fellers had hard heads. They use to go KAPOW, they'd head-butt some guy. HEAD-BUTT! dang
 
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