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Before the Neanderthals: Hominid Evolution in Middle Pleistocene Europe

  • Ian Tattersall
Chapter
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)

Abstract

Hublin’s (1998) influential “accretion model” essentially places all Middle Pleistocene European fossils in a single variable lineage culminating in Homo neanderthalensis. In this contribution I briefly examine the morphological justification (1) for regarding Homo neanderthalensis as a fully individuated Late Pleistocene entity, and (2) for the coexistence not of one but for two hominid clades (at least) in Europe during the Middle Pleistocene. One of those clades is entirely endemic to Europe and includes, along with the Neanderthals, hominids such as those from Steinheim, Reilingen and the Sima de los Huesos at Atapuerca. The other, broadly contemporaneous with it, shows none of the cranial synapomorphies of this “Neanderthal clade.” Instead, it unites forms such as Mauer, Arago and Petralona with a cosmopolitan group of fossils that includes Kabwe and Bodo in Africa, and Dali and Jinniushan in China. It is to this group that the nomen Homo heidelbergensis applies; and as long as the Neanderthal-related Sima de los Huesos specimens continue to be misguidedly attributed to Homo heidelbergensis, major confusion will reign in European Middle Pleistocene hominid systematics.

Keywords

Hominidae Evolution Homo neanderthalensis Homo heidelbergensis “Accretion model” 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am most grateful to the organizers of the “150 Years of Neanderthal Discoveries” meeting for the privilege of attending this stimulating and historic event, and to Silvana Condemi and Gerd-C. Weniger for their invitation to contribute to this volume of proceedings. Thanks also to Eric Delson, and to Gary Sawyer and Ken Mowbray for the illustration.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of AnthropologyAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

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