Re: homo species

Harry Erwin (
Thu, 06 Jul 1995 20:26:08 -0400

In article <3tftsa$>, Howard Wiseman
<> wrote:

> Hello everyone,
> I have been heartened to see a recent increase in serious posts in this
> group discussing things other than the AAH. So I thought I'd throw out
> some topics I (a strict amateur)
> am interested in to try to get some more discussion.
> It seems to me that the lumping/splitting pendulum has definitely swung
> back the other way (i.e. towards splitting) this past decade. Some people
> are now talking about many homo species (instead of just habilis,
> erectus, sapiens). These include (please correct me if I'm wrong because
> I'm writing from memory here)
> h. rudolfensis = KNMER1470 and related big-brained finds
> h. sp. = KNMER1813 (small brain but small teeth)
> h. habilis = original Olduvai finds (moderate brains)
> h. ergaster = KNMER3883, 3733, "turkana boy" etc.
> h. erectus = asian "erectus" only - java and china
> h. heidelbergensis = european and post-ergaster african "erectus"
> (Olduvai?, Broken
> Hill?), maybe later asian as well
> (Solo?, China?)
> h. neanderthalensis = european and west asian only
> h. sapiens = african from 120 kYA, then over the rest of the world
> Any comments?

If you want to see a splitter, read Groves! My database tells me we're
dealing with perhaps four Homo species (habilis, rudolfensis, erectus, and

> What is the relation between these groups, and the
> australopithecus/paranthropus species?

A. africanus approaches H. habilis.

> Should any (eg rudolfensis) not be homo?

Some of the lumpers believe the Pan species should be Homo species...

> Where does KNMER1805 fit in?

It seems to be close to KNMER 1813.

> What about the very early (c. 1.8 MYA) "erectus" from Georgia and java?

If early H. erectus was the first hominid with a wanderlust, finding it in
Georgia and Java at that date is not really a reach.

> Is this likely to be a conclusive list, or might other species be claimed?

Others will be claimed.

> Is this list likely to be completely overturned as we discover more
> fossils? If so, should we give up naming fossil homonids indefinitely?

We've probably identified about half the ones that will eventually be on
the list (based on 1 MYr/species and perhaps 3 simultaneously present at
any given time until H. erectus emerged).

> Hoping to get some lively arguments,
> Howard Wiseman.

Thanks for not posting flame bait.

Harry Erwin
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PhD student in comp neurosci: "Glitches happen" & "Meaning is emotional"