, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 241-252

An investigation into the usefulness of a cladistic approach to the study of the origin of anatomically modern humans

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Cladistic analyses for the study of hominid evolution become very common during the last two decades, but little attention has been given to the appropriateness of the approach to studies being undertaken. This paper discusses how cladistic analyses have been used in studies of late Middle and Upper Pleicostocene hominids without due consideration of the problems inherent within the approach. It is concluded that in studies of the origin of anatomicaly modern humans a strict cladistic approach is inappropriate because it takes too narrow a view (presence/absence) of morphology, and in doing so does not allow for morphological variation. A phenetic approach which is interested in overall morphological similarity based on many characters and attempts to sample the total morphological variability evident within a sample would seem a more appropriate approach in such studies.