Re: Is Homo Habilis well represented?

Jim Foley (
25 Jul 1995 18:24:37 GMT

In article <3usl7o$>,
Hideo Gump <> wrote:

> I am curious about the step or steps between the Piths and Homo Erectus.
>well represented is Homo Habilis represented in the fossil record?
>Is this a real species? Are there
>other possible views besides orthidoxy reguarding this stage in human
>Ideas and discussion are appreciated. Thank You
> Hideo ;-B

The following are often claimed to belong to Homo habilis: OH 7, OH 13,
OH 24, OH 62, ER 1470. Other fossils such as ER 1813 or ER 1805 are
sometimes put into habilis, or termed "habilines", a vague term which
seems to be used to cover a wide range of fossils with brain sizes
between 500 and 800 cc that are not obviously australopithecine.

Leakey and Lewin say, in "Origins Rediscovered", that of the few dozen
or so fossils variously put into habilis, at least half of them probably
don't belong there. The trouble is, no two anthropologists pick the
same 50%.

Take the three fossils OH 7, 1470 and 1813. I think almost every
conceivable combination of 1, 2, or 3 species for these three specimens
has been proposed at one time or another. Classification is a mess
because there are so few specimens, most of them are not very complete,
there is almost no firmly identified post-cranial material, and when
you add OH 62 and 1805 into the mix above, there is a *lot* of
morphological diversity. I think it's safe to say there's probably at
least two different species in there, but it's almost impossible to sort
out what they are without further evidence.

A recent relevant article is:

Wood B.A.: Origin and evolution of the genus Homo. Nature 355:783-790,
1992. (review article on the taxonomy of Homo habilis)

Jim (Chris) Foley,
Assoc. Prof. of Omphalic Envy Research interest:
Department of Anthropology Primitive hominids
University of Ediacara (Australopithecus creationistii)