Hominid Diversity and ‘Ancestor’ Myths

Homo, H. sapiens, and Other Taxa from a Phylocladistic Viewpoint
Chapter
Part of the Biosemiotics book series (BSEM, volume 6)

Abstract

Many of the ‘myths’ of direct ancestors of ‘all hominids’ or of Homo or of H. sapiens and age of these ‘ancestors’ are shown to be ‘false’ or based on poor character analyses and/or suboptimal classifications and/or inconsequent choices of names of taxa. Ernst Mayr’s devastating influence since 1950 on naming fossil hominids and therefore on comprehending their diversity is obvious. Recently, that is since mid 1990s, many more new taxa of fossil hominids have been found and named, and this has produced a much better appreciation of the prehistoric diversity, and has questioned and put into doubt, if not outright refuted, many of the traditional, often too simplified and adaptationistic scenarios (or ‘just-so stories’) about human evolution as evidenced by ‘direct fossil ancestors’. The most famous of these, ‘Lucy’, is here named Afaranthropus (n. gen.) antiquus (Ferguson, 1984).

Keywords

Sister Group Modern Human Crown Group African Language Last Common Ancestor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thanks to the organisers for two very pleasant and in formative meetings in Copenhagen, and to the editors and publisher for their patience. Thanks also to the late Bjarne Westergaard, with whom I used to discuss lots of these problems with primate and hominid evolution and classifications, and cladistic methods and philosophy in general, he was a rich source of information – and thanks to his family who after his incomprehensible and unreasonable death in 2008 transferred his huge primate library to me and to the Natural History Museum (SNM). Further thanks to drs. Chris Stringer and Peter Andrews, Museum of Natural History, London, for discussions on hominids and phylogenetic systematics, and to Drs Ian Tattersal and Eric Delson with whom I enjoyed studying the many original fossil hominids from all over the world at the famous ‘Ancestors’ meeting in American Museum of Natural History in New York almost 30 year ago. I am grateful to my institute for workspace and fascilities as well as for support some years ago to journeys to symposia, where some of these ideas on hominids and cladistic classifications were presented e.g. in Oxford 2003.

Supplementary material

271958_1_En_9_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.3 mb)
Caption of the data object (PDF: 1.30 MB).

References

  1. A large number of references especially concerning the reconstruction of the phylogenetic tree from Bonde and Westergaard (2004) are not repeated here, but are available on the homepage of the publisher (http://extras.springer.com) as well as on NB’s homepage (http://www.Institut.Geografi.Geologi.ku.dk/emeritus/Niels.Bonde) as link to a pdf. A long list with the remaining literature is also placed with a link on the homepage.
  2. Anderson, I. (1983). Who made the Laetoli footprints? New Scientist, May 12, 1983, 373.Google Scholar
  3. Berger, L. R., de Ruiter, D. J., et al. (2010). Australopithecus sediba: A new species of Homo-like australopith from South Africa. Science, 328, 195–204.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bonde, N. (1977). Cladistic classification as applied to vertebrates. In M. K. Hecht, et al. (Eds.), Major patterns invertebrate evolution (pp. 741–804). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  5. Bonde, N. (1984a). Functional anatomy and reconstruction of phylogeny. In E. Buffetaut, et al. (Eds.), Actes du Symposium Paléontologique Georges Cuvier, Montbeliard, France 1982 (pp. 11–26). Imprim. Commune Montbéliard.Google Scholar
  6. Bonde, N. (1989). Erectus and neanderthalensis as species or subspecies of Homo, with a model of speciations in hominiods. In G. Giacobini (Ed.), Hominidae. Proceedings of the 2nd international congress of human paleontology (pp. 205–208). Milan: Jaca Book.Google Scholar
  7. Bonde, N. (2001). L’éspéce et la dimension du temps. Biosystema, vol. 19. Systématique et Paléontologie –2001, 29–62.Google Scholar
  8. Bonde, N., & Hoeg, J. T. (2008). Bjarne Westergaard, 25.05.1948–29.01.2008. Da.Naturhist.Foren., Yearbook 2007/2008, pp. 83–88.Google Scholar
  9. Bonde, N., & Westergaard, B. (2004). Progress in hominid classification: Cladistic approaches. Micselanea a E. Aguirre, lll, Paleoantropologia, pp. 36–57. Zona Arquelogica, Num. 4, (Museo Arquelogico Regional).Google Scholar
  10. Brown, P., Sutikna, T., et al. (2004). A new small bodied hominin from the Late Pleistocene of Flores, Indonesia. Nature, 431, 1055–1061.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carroll, R. (1987). Vertebrate paleontology and evolution (pp. 277–285). New York: W.H. Freeman and Co.Google Scholar
  12. Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., et al. (1989). Reconstruction of human evolution: Bringing together genetic, archaeological and linguistic data. PNAS USA, 85, 602–606.Google Scholar
  13. Cherfas, J. (1983). Trees made man upright. New Scientist, 97(1341), 172–178.Google Scholar
  14. Coon, C. (1962). The origin of races. London: J. Cape.Google Scholar
  15. Day, M. (1965). Guide to fossil man (4th ed., 1986). New York: Cassell.Google Scholar
  16. Feyerabend, P. (1975). Against methods. London: Methuens.Google Scholar
  17. Foley, R. (1987). Another unique species. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Gibbons, A. (2009). Ardipithecus ramidus: The view from Afar. Science, 326, 41–43.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Groves, C. P. (1991). A theory of human and primate evolution. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Haile-Selassie, Y. (2001). Late Miocene hominids from the Middle Awash, Etiopia. Nature, 412, 178–181.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Johanson, D., & Edey, M. (1990). Lucy, the beginnings of humankind. London: Granada.Google Scholar
  22. Johanson, D., & Edgar, B. (1996). From Lucy to language. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.Google Scholar
  23. Jungers, W., & Baab, K. (2009). The geometri of hobbits: Homo floresiensis and human evolution. Significance. DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-9713.2009.00389.Google Scholar
  24. Krause, J., Qiaomei, F., et al. (2010). The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Sibiria. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08976.Google Scholar
  25. Leakey, L. B. S., Tobias, P., & Napier, J. (1964). A new species of the genus Homo from Olduvai Gorge. Nature, 202, 5–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Leakey, R., & Walker, A. (1976). Australopithecus, Homo erectus and the single species hypothesis. Nature, 261, 572–574.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pettitt, P., & Niskanen, M. (2005). Neanderetals in Susiluola Cave, Finland, during the last interglacial period. Fennoscandia Archaeologica, XXII, 79–87.Google Scholar
  28. Romer, A. S. (1966). Vertebrate paleontology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Schmid, P. (1983). A reconstruction of the skeleton of A.L. 288-1 (Hadar) and its consequences. Folia Primatol, 40, 283–306PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Senut, B., & Tardieu, C. (1985). Functional aspects of Plio-Pleistocene hominid limb bones: Implications for taxonomy and phylogeny. In E. Delson (Ed.), Ancestors: The hard evidence (pp. 193–201). New York: A.R. Liss.Google Scholar
  31. Stern, J. T., & Susman, R. L. (1983). The locomotor anatomy of Australopithecus afarensis, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 60, 279–317.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stopa, R. (1973). Hominization. Journal of Human Evolution, 2, 371–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Stopa, R. (1979). Clicks, their form, function and their transformtion or how our ancestors were gesticulating, clicking and crying. Acta Scient. & Litterar. 561, Universitas Iagellonica., Krakow.Google Scholar
  34. Stringer, C., & Gamble, C. (1993). In search of the Neanderthals. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  35. Stringer, C., & McKie, R. (1996). African exodus. The origin of modern humanity. London: Cape.Google Scholar
  36. Tattersal, I. (1995). The fossil trail. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Tobias, P. V. (1967). The cranium and maxillary dentition of Australopithecus (Zinjanthropus) boisei. Olduvai Gorge 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Vekua, A., Lordkipanidze, D., et al. (2002). A new skull of early Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia. Science, 297, 85–89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Vigilant, L., Stoneking, M., et al. (1991). African populations and the evolution of human mitochondrial DNA. Science, 253, 1503–1507.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wells, S. (2002). The journey of a man. A genetic odyssey. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  41. White, T., Asfaw, B., et al. (2009). Ardipithecus ramidus and paleobiology of early hominids. Science, 326, 75–86.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. White, T. D., Suwa, G., & Asfaw, B. (1994). Australopithecus ramidus, a new species of early hominid from Aramia, Ethiopia. Nature, 371, 306–312.Google Scholar
  43. White, T. D., Suwa, G., & Asfaw, B. (1995). Australopithecus ramidus, a new species of early hominid from Aramia, Ethiopia. Nature, 375, 88.Google Scholar
  44. Wolpoff, M. H. (1980). Paleoanthropology. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geography & GeologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Fur MuseumFurDenmark

Personalised recommendations