[ExI] IQ and beauty

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 22 04:26:10 UTC 2015

On Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 3:10 PM, John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 20, 2015  Dan TheBookMan <danust2012 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> the Irish Elk, no doubt, had other anatomical changes to deal with the
much larger antler size.
> No biological adaptation can make the law of conservation of angular
momentum go away.

Of course, but my point should've been obvious: the organism might have had
behavioral and other physical changes to deal with having larger antlers.

What about moose today? They have antlers weighing, in the largest
specimens, more than half what the Irish Elk antlers are supposed to weigh
-- yet much heavier than many other animals. How the hell do they do it?
Why are they listed by conservation authorities as of least concern? Why
doesn't the angular momentum of a moose's antlers doom it? Why isn't it now
endangered or even extinct?

> And no biological adaptation can make
> can make
> the
> Pauli exclusion principle
> go away either, and antlers are made of Fermions

You're going off the deep end to defend your point here.

> as are boulders tree trunks branched and vines, so one can not pass
through the
> other unaffected. So antlers are going to get snagged.

Right, so what happens to the moose or to deer or elk now? They never ever
get snagged?

Also, if you're going to present a just so story about being snagged, what
do you have to back it up other than conjecture? Any examples of Irish Elk
being found snagged in the fossil record? Do you have evidence of what
their habitat was like overall? If it was tundra, steppe, or savanna,
what's the likelihood snagging their antlers did them in?

There also seems to be some evidence that antler size and geometry varied
among Irish Elk populations with forest-dwelling ones having more compact
antlers. If this is so, it seems the runaway antler hypothesis is in
trouble. Variation in antler geometry and size amongst Irish Elk would
suggest that they could evolve their way out of antlers doing them in --
given enough time and the right nudges. Cf.

(I'm not dissing "just so" stories as starting points for framing
hypotheses, but they should never be treated as conclusive, especially in
the face of either a lack of evidence or salient alternative hypotheses. I
hope you agree,.)

>> You might argue here, of course, that the antlers slowed the elk down
> Could any rational person argue otherwise? Getting snagged does not make
it easier to move fast.

Geez! Are you saying that experts in the field of paleobiology -- the folks
writing papers that get published in journals you cite -- are irrational
when they question sexual selection driving Irish Elk to extinction?

>> Yes, it likely has some negative impact in some situations,
> Huge antlers would be a negative in nearly every situation except
> for
> the mating situation.

I'm not sure about that. If they can intimidate predators (things that hunt
Irish Elk) or competing species (things that use the same resources as
Irish Elk), then it's not just about mating. Of course, it could be sexual
selection drives the initial process of increased antler size, but that
there are added benefits such as intimidation of predators and competitors.
These should be tested rather than rejected.

>> but it's almost certainly counterbalanced by other traits.
> Yes, and the counterbalance was that
> large antlers
>  looked sexy, otherwise the gene for
> it
>  would not have become dominant in the gene pool.

I meant traits like have behavior, muscles, and skeleton adapted to dealing
with out-sized antlers.

>> humans would be very different from other predators
> Humans were super-predators, and when one of those comes along strategies
to avoid
> predators, although always important, becomes even more important. The
Irish Elk got
> a C in predator avoidance on its Evolutionary report card and that was
good enough
> before the arrival of the super-predator,

Well, the problem with giving them a "C" here is what is that based on? In
evolutionary biology, one way to rank might be to look at actual survival
rates -- not merely assume that the Irish Elk did poorly because, well,
they had big antlers. Heck, how did they stick around for several hundred
thousand years? We'd also have to know just how well they did: have good
estimates on their population sizes, better knowledge on their ecology,
have a good model, etc. to do this right. You're just presuming you know
because, well, they have big antlers.

> but not after. The modern elk must have gotten a A because enough managed
to avoid
> the clutches of the super-predator to form breeding populations.

Well, modern elk are not the Irish Elks' closest relative, so their
survival might not be the best clue, though it might be these smaller
organisms simply bred faster, which might correlate more not with antler
size but overall body size.

>> The huge antlers, were they such a drag on survival, almost certainly
should've killed
>> them off much sooner.
> Not necessarily, survival would depend on a number of things , the sort
of predators in the
> environment that would be encountered would be one of the most important.

It's good to see that you're willing to actually consider that the big
antler organism didn't simply die out soon after its antlers were mature --
either because it couldn't move it's head or because it was immediately
caught in vines whilst the wolves closed in. :)

> A mutant Irish Elk with a gene for smaller antlers would have a longer
life but probably
> not a happier life due to sexual frustration. Such a gene could not
become dominant in
> the gene pool regardless of how beneficial it was to a individual unless
there was a
> second mutant gene, one for feeling that small antlers were more sexy
than big ones,
> and the 2 genes would need to be close together on the same chromosome so
> would usually be inherited together.

Unfortunately, this is speculative. I know some mitochondrial DNA has been
recovered from these organisms, but we'd have to have the whole genome
sequenced to understand what went on here.

> Unfortunately such a chain of lucky mutations never happened to the Irish
Elk's genome
> so it went into a positive feedback loop with females giving birth to
males who would
> have large antlers and females who thought bigger was always better as
far as antlers
> were concerned. And so the only thing that could break the positive
feedback loop was extinction.

Again, speculation. If humans were what wiped them out, it might not have
been the antlers at all, but simply them being big targets no matter how
big the antlers were.

>> how would this explain that species like the Indian peafowl seem to be
doing quite well
>> and are listed as "Least Concern" by conservation authorities?
> The Indian peafowl breeds very easily in captivity and the top
super-predator of the age likes
> them and takes measures to preserve them and even keeps them as pets. I
don't know
> if Paleolithic people liked Irish Elk but I doubt anybody ever tried to
breed one or had a Irish
> Elk as a pet.

I don't think that's why wild peafowl are "Least Concern." Humans today
hunt Indian peafowl as do many other things, from wild dogs to tigers. We
would expect the wild ones to be very rare with only domesticated birds
being the dominant examples. Why is this not so?

I'm not sure about the prehistoric status of Indian peafowl, though if what
you believe were true we should expect them to have been very rare -- big
tails made them easy targets, according to you -- and only being plentiful
today because humans took a liking to them. Yet peafowl overall seem to
have had a wider range before humans, including Southeastern Europe.

>> I do think the antler loss and regrowth issue [which you mention in the
snipped portion]
>> though might tell you that Irish Elk males might not always be hauling
around huge
>> antlers, so even if the cost of growing them is high, there's that they
would also have
>> periods when they lost them
> And in every species of deer the yearly time of maximum antler size
corresponds to the
> time of peak fertility of the female. if antlers were not the result of
sexual selection how
> do you explain that? Coincidence?

Note that my view here is not that antlers were not the result of sexual
selection, but that having large antlers might not have been the cause of
the Irish Elk going extinct.

>> The main contending theories are ones that are neutral on antler size it
seems. I don't
>> think this is foolish in any way.
> It's good to have a open mind, but not so open all your brains fall out.

So you believe those experts in the field of evolutionary biology offering
these alternative explanations are simply fools whose brains have fallen

>> Humans would be distance hunters with projectile weapons.
> It doesn't matter if the hunting is close or distant, a stationary target
is always going to be
> easier to hit than a moving target, and a elk with ridiculously large
antlers is going to be
> moving slower than a elk with smaller antlers, and if the ground isn't
open and free from all
> obstructions MUCH slower.

It matters when hunting an animal that might severely or lethally injure an
attacker. It also matters when then predator is intimidated because of
larger size or big antlers from attacking.

>> though humans also seemed to have little problem hunting other animals
> Humans must had had problems
> hunting a species of deer with smaller antlers because those elk are
still around today,
> it's just the Irish Elk that's dead.

Well, a big problem for humans with deer would be that most of these live
in forested environments, where it's far easier to hide than on open
grassland or tundra. Also, having a faster productive cycle can make a huge

>> no evidence that makes us select the model of a runaway sexual selection
>> them off over things like habitat loss, inter-species competition, or
hunting by humans.
> Modern elk faced these same problems and must have found them to be less
than lethal,
> but the exact same problems stumped the Irish Elk. Something must be
different. What
> is the most conspicuous difference between the Irish Elk and the modern

Well, for one, they're not as closely related to begin with. But modern elk
species and the more closely related (to Irish Elk) deer species are all a
lot smaller in body size than Irish Elk. That's a "conspicuous difference,"
no? No doubt, that would allow them to eke out an existence over a broader

>> My guess here is it was a big animal with lots of meat and material for
use, making
>> it a better target. Plus, simply being larger
>> [...]
> The modern elk has about as much meat on it as a Irish Elk had, and yet
one went extinct and one did not. Why?

Which species of modern elk? All the only I've read of were much smaller
than the Irish Elk. The Irish Elk is listed as a megafauna for a reason --
not because it's merely as big as a modern elk or deer -- save for having
huge headgear. (There is one modern elk that reaches similar size: the
Roosevelt Elk. And it had to be reintroduced because? Because it was going
extinct in its natural range. I wonder why...:)

>>> But we do have direct field observations
>>> of physics, enough to know that a 9 foot wide 90 pound anchor on top of
>>>  a head is going to severely limit the movement of an animal,
>>> especially the movement of the
>>> most important part of the animal, the head.
>>>  It is just not viable to maintain
>>> that the resulting huge increase in angular momentum of the head (never
>>> mind the fact that the antlers would also hit things
>>> and further restrict
>>> movement) would be beneficial to a species.
>> Yet from this one would expect the winterkills to go the opposite way,
> In every species of deer I would expect large bodied individuals to do
better in the winter than small bodied individuals especially if it's a
very cold winter, and they had a lot of those during the Ice Age.

Now consider that. Consider that smaller antlered examples were also found
in the winterkills as cited in that paper. Seems like big antlers weren't
such a burden that Irish Elk simply died. In fact, it makes more sense
given that the species lasted so long. If lugging around huge antlers
really were such an impediment to overall survival, then I think it would
be more reasonable to expect this to be a very small short lived population
that evolved them.


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