Re: Lucy's current status -- in the fossil record or out?

Susan S. Chin (
Sat, 28 Dec 1996 01:32:30 GMT (Susan S. Chin) wrote:
: > Homo ergaster, Homo rudolfensis, Homo heidelbergensis.... how valid
: > are these new species designations?

debra mckay ( wrote:
: I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you asking how valid the
: names are? Or are the specimens different enough from other things to
: warrant new names?

Actually both... the validity of the species designations as ergaster,
rudolfensis and heidelbergensis are technically valid, as I understand
it, if these were the species names given to the specimens by the
original discoverers and also the names designated in the original
publication of the finds.... unless the taxon designation is later found
to require modification, as in Ardipithecus ramidus. In any case, my
understanding is that unless an obvious error in taxon designation has
occurred, the original names have priority. So the second part of it
would be how valid is it to later split/lump specimens into different

: I read an article in which Brigit Senut has tried to
: resurrect an old name "Praeanthropus" for A. anamensis--this is pertinent
: to the question because the name is perfectly valid and is available; the
: only question is whether anyone else will agree with her! At any
: rate, once the fossil has been described in a journal, *anyone* can propose
: a name for it.

You've lost me on this one.... if anyone can propose a name for it, what
does this do to the original name given to the fossil, presumably by the
researchers describing it... can't imagine it being very satisfying going
to minute details in describing your fossils...following the rules...only
to have other researchers propose names of their own for your fossils.

: The name _H. heidelbergensis_ was proposed in 1908 for the Mauer mandible

I think what I meant above is that, for the most part, until recently,
the species H. heidelbergensis, though originally named in 1908, has
been referred to as Homo erectus of some type (correct me
if I'm wrong here)... so is there some standard of taxonomic nomenclature
for what we call these fossils, both splitters and lumpers alike.
Or is it a case of "you say erectus I say heidelbergensis"? I hope that
makes my question clearer.

; _H.rudolfensis_ was proposed for the taxon with KNM-ER 1470 as the type
: specimen in 1986 by some obscure Russian paleoanthropologist, so by te
: rules of nomenclature if ER 1470 is separated from _H. habilis_ it is
: _H. rudolfensis_.

Since 1470 was not designated Homo habilis in Leakey's descriptive
paper, does this leave the door open for someone such as the Russian
paleoanthropologist (Valerii Alexeev) to come along and propose a new
species name for it?

I'm starting to think that though there are definite Rules of
Nomenclature for designating hominid taxa... for the most part, it's
starting to sound like a free-for-all...a bit drastic maybe..but it's
getting hard to keep track of who's what, and according to whom.