Macroevolution pp 345-376 | Cite as

Macroevolution in and Around the Hominin Clade

Part of the Interdisciplinary Evolution Research book series (IDER, volume 2)


In this review, we discuss the criteria for recognizing species and genera within the fossil record in general, and within the hominin clade in particular. We review the grade concept, suggest how taxa within the hominin clade can be divided into grades, and define the grade categories. We discuss the difficulties with studying macroevolution in the hominin clade but suggest that at least one trait, brain size, may provide insight into the tempo and mode of evolution. We also review evidence suggesting that stasis is the dominant signal in two early hominin taxa that have substantial and well-dated fossil records. We discuss the role of evolutionary forces in forming macroevolutionary patterns and find that while natural selection appears to be the dominant force, some well-known interspecific and intraspecific differences in hominins may have been the result of random genetic drift. Lastly, we suggest that homoplasy makes generating reliable hypotheses about relationships among early hominins more difficult than most researchers are willing to admit.


Clade Grade Hominin Macroevolution Mode Selection Tempo 



BW was supported by the GW Provost and the GW Signature Program, and MG by the GW Signature Program.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Advanced Study of Hominid PaleobiologyGeorge Washington UniversityWashington D.C.USA

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