Comparisons of Early Pleistocene Skulls from East Africa and the Georgian Caucasus: Evidence Bearing on the Origin and Systematics of Genus Homo

  • G. Philip Rightmire
  • David Lordkipanidze
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)

A half century ago, when there were fewer fossils (and not so many paleoanthropologists), characterizing the genus Homo was relatively straightforward. In addition to modern humans, Neanderthals could be included, along with other archaics such as Broken Hill (now Kabwe) from Zambia and the Ngandong assemblage from Java. Also, it was becoming clear that Atlanthropus from northern Africa, and Pithecanthropus and Sinanthropus from eastern Asia, should be lumped into this same taxon. Phillip Tobias (2009) has noted that the situation changed rather dramatically in 1964, with the naming of Homo habilis. Accommodating the newly discovered Olduvai remains in Homo required expanding the existing defi nition of the genus. This trend has continued.

Along with the traditional emphasis on morphology of skulls, teeth, and postcranial bones, investigators have added criteria relating to energetics and diet, tool-making, and the ability to communicate using spoken language. Recently, issues of life history and the timing of development have been raised as well. Bernard Wood (2009) has reminded us that some of these characters help in exploring phylogeny (Homo as a clade) and others assist in assessing the grade status of individual species.


Species morphology variation Homo habilis Homo rudolfensis Homo erectus Dmanisi human evolution 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Philip Rightmire
    • 1
  • David Lordkipanidze
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Peabody MuseumHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Georgian National MuseumTbilisiRepublic of Georgia

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