Jeffrey H. Schwartz

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Jeffrey Hugh Schwartz (born March 6, 1948) is an American physical anthropologist and professor of biological anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a fellow and President of the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS) from 2008 to 2012. Schwartz' research involves the methods, theories, and philosophies in evolutionary biology, including the origins and diversification of primates. He has studied and analyzed human and primate skeletons and archaeological remains, focusing much of his research on dentofacial morphology. He has done substantial fieldwork and museum research in the collections of major museums around the globe.

Quotes[edit]

Orang-utan Biology (1988)[edit]

ed., Jeffrey H. Schwartz

  • There has been little morphological evidence offered since Darwin in support of the relatedness of humans and one or both of the African apes, but that, when the relationships among the extant humanoids are investigated cladistically in an evaluation of more than 200 morphological features, there are well over twice as many morphological synapomorphies in support of uniting humans with the orang-utan as with the African ape clad and very few in support of uniting the chimpanzee more closely with humans than with the gorilla.
  • A "new" systematics will be forthcoming only when the urge to be "right" takes a back seat to the possibility that one is wrong.
  • Although it may be extremely reasonable (especially from our present vantage point) to conclude that some part of human evolution, if not aspects of the diversification of hominoids in general, is indeed preserved in the fossil record of Africa, this does not in and of itself lead inexorably to the conclusion that humans and African apes are closely related.

What the Bones Tell Us (1997)[edit]

  • It is frustrating to know, on the one hand, that every living thing on earth will have had a single, unique history—whether it be the life of an individual, of a civilization, of a species, of a diverse evolutionary group—and, on the other, to be constantly in the position of trying to discover it.
  • I hope to... provide insights into the interpretation of "evidence" and the application of the "scientific method" so that you... will be more attuned to what scientists are saying, and why they may be saying it, and realize that the problems and issues that they are addressing are matters we can all think about critically.
  • Science, especially evolutionary sciences, can only proceed from learning about theories of hypotheses that do not stand the test of time.
  • There are always alternative interpretations of the same data. It is often the case, however, that the alternatives that are rejected are treated as if they don't exist. But they do. And we should be aware not only of their existence and potential viability, but of the possibility that the hypotheses that we might embrace so strongly today may very well be the rejects of tomorrow.
  • The upper and lower ends of a humerus are like the brim and base of an urn. The shaft of the bone is like the belly of the urn. Fragments, even minute ones, of the detailed parts of a bone are like the indicator sherds of a broken urn. Fragments, even large ones, of the shaft of a bone are like the body sherds of a broken urn. Analyzing bones, after all, is very much like analyzing pottery.
  • Petrie found that certain types of pottery were characteristic of a particular phase of the Bronze Age, whereas other styles were found only a phase of the Iron Age, or only during the Hellenistic or Greek periods.
  • Some... resistance also came from the belief that preserved historical writings could provide all anyone needed to know about the habits of past civilizations. ...According to the archeologists, this site was supposed to have had an uninterrupted sequence of Israelite occupation... These archeologists "knew" that there had been a continual occupation of people practicing full-blown Jewish orthodoxy based on their interpretation of the preserved written records. ...But, to the extreme surprise of the dig's staff... one-third of the bones from the floor of the synagogue were pig. Anathema! ...directly beneath the floor of this synagogue... the first piece of bone I picked up was from the skull of a young human. Again, anathema! How could orthodox Jews build anything, much less a synagogue, over a human burial area? ...no reports on the site including my analyses have ever seen the light of day.
  • The Bodo skull and the Kaprina and Shanidar Neandertal skeletons raise the possibility that two distinct, non-spaiens species of Homo had had rituals and cultural practices that we have assumed are only within the capacity of members of our own species.
  • The processes of bone preservation are such that the farther back in time we go, the less there is.
  • The smaller the mammal, the more it is confined to smaller geographic areas. A small mammal is also more susceptible to subtle changes in climate and environment. ...On average, the absence or presence of smaller species provides more precise clues to past conditions in an area than does the information gained from study of the bone assemblages of the larger animals.
  • The corpses of water-dwelling animals often sink to the bottom and become covered with sediment. The sediment tends to protect the dead body and even at times retain an impression of its shape and external anatomical details. This environment then provides the means by which the bones of the skeleton are mineralized. ...most land animals die and fall to the ground, without any chance of a freak flood casting them into an environment more favorable to fossilization.
  • Becoming a rock does not ensure safety. ...The blasting of windblown sands, the pummeling of waves, the corrosive secretions of mosses and lichens, and even the steady rhythm of a stream can, in time, reduce a seemingly indestructible boulder to a grain of sand.
  • From a succession of historians we learn of a particularly gruesome component of Carthaginian daily life: the routine and ritualized sacrificing of not just animals—animal sacrifice was a common religious activity of all Mediterranean cultures—but of infants and children. ...Greek and Roman historians were unanimous in their abhorrence of the Carthaginian practice...
  • Greeks and Romans alike engaged openly in a variety of sanctioned atrocities, including adult human sacrifice. ...according to ...Cicero, human sacrifice was not restricted to the western Phoenicians but was widely accepted among Mediterranean societies as a pious act that would please the gods.
  • The Phoenicians were the Canaanites. Thus Phoenicia... was invaded by the Israelites, who eventually pushed the Phoenicians to the coastal fringe. Subsequently, the Israelites borrowed various cultural elements from the Phoenicians, including the first alphabet. Some groups of Israelites even adopted the god Ba'al and, presumably, the practice of child sacrifice.

Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species (1999)[edit]

  • If Walter Garstang's suggestion is correct, and chordates did arise from a tunicate-like form by retaining the chordate features of their larval stage of development into adulthood, then the first chordates must have been affected by a regulatory mutation that kept the Manx gene activated for a longer period of time.
  • The sudden appearance of novelty is not, as Otto Schindewolf emphasized, an unusual aspect of the fossil record.
  • The observation of reduction in complexity in many groups or organisms after a structure has emerged in a full-blown state makes sense in terms of homeobox genes.
  • A micromutation can produce what Goldschmidt would have described as macromutation leading to macroevolution. Since mutations in homeobox genes are inherited in the same way that earlier fruit-fly population geneticists understood the inheritance of the alleles for wing lenght or bristle number, we can appreciate that evolutionarily significant novelty—which, in turn, could result in the emergence of a new species—can be passed on from parent to child as easily and simply as eye color.
  • As was demonstrated as long ago as the 1930s by the German experimental geneticist Hans Grüneberg, neither structural reduction or loss, nor structural addition, is a completely gradual process. Instead, the loss or gain of a structure is developmentally constrained to be more step-wise, or saltational.
  • The often heated and sometimes nasty debates that have taken place between gradualists and punctuationists, or between micromutationists and macromutationists, have been generated by the perception that there is only one evolutionary question, for which... there can be only one correct answer. ...But if we take a different approach, and assume that both sides of a typical evolutionary debate have something valid to offer, then the theoretical and methodological disagreements between different schools of thought may just be a matter of having the right answer to a different question.
  • More than one hundred years ago, William Bateson suggested that studying the regulation and timing of development was the key to understanding evolutionary change. He was right.

Quotes about Schwartz[edit]

  • He and John Grehan are the only two scientists on the whole planet who subscribe to this red-ape hypothesis. ...I think he's completely wrong on this hypothesis of his, but I have his books on my shelf.
    • Todd Disotell, New York University's Center for the Study of Human Origins, as quoted by David Templeton, "Pitt anthropologist offers different opinion of humans' closest kin," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Aug 3, 2009)

External links[edit]

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