Re: homo species

Howard Wiseman (
12 Jul 1995 21:12:35 GMT

Thanks for replies so far in this thread. It seems there really is not
enough data to unambiguously idenitfy homo species and relations before
1.5 MYA.

In article
<> Ralph
L Holloway, writes:
> There are still some holdouts amongst us older paleoanthropologists
>that regard the differences between neandertals and modern Homo sapiens
>as a matter of subspecific ("racial") variation rather at the level of
>between-species variation. The original poster might be interested to
>know that this is one of the 'pendular" problems in palaeoanthropology,
>and that the pendulum is shifting toward the "splitting" end of the
>spectrum. -Having studied the brain endocats of Neandertals, I still
>cannot understand anything about the morphology that would lead me to
>believe they were a different species than ourselves. As for the rest of
>the morphology, I would expect differences as between Bushmen and
>Australian aborigines, or Eskimos and Ituri forrest Pygmies, etc, to be
>about of the same dimensionality.

On this subject, why is it that Australian aborigines possess very thick
crania, large teeth (I have read exceeding Neandertals in robustness in
some features)? I am of course not suggesting that they belong to a
different species: that is manifestly false. In the multiregional
hypothesis the explanation would be that their ancestors in S.E. Asia
were very robust cranially compared to contemporaneous humans (as seems
to be the case). But what about in the out-of-Africa scheme? Is it
necessary to invoke hybridization with the more primitive people of S.E.
Asia? And what about New Guineans? I understood that they do not display
the same level of robustness, yet they probably arrived in Greater
Australia at the same time as the Aust. aborigines. Also, does anyone
have any comments on the range of variation in Aust fossil homo, from
very primitive looking Talgai cranium, to crania and skeletons more
slender than those of present aborigines. How much support is there for 2
migrations into Australia by quite different peoples?

> I particularly don't buy into the position, now seemingly ascendent
>that Neandertal behavior was so static and moribund (without innovation)
>that they were a different species, and a dopey one at that. It's a
>cultural bias, no doubt, on my part, that I tend to regard stability as
>"good" and "change" as not necessarily 'adaptive'. I am willing to admit

What about the lack of art by Neandertals, compared with Cro-Magnon?

>this is partly a function of my own age...(grin). One thing about
>palaeoanthropology, you can take a position, currently unpopular, and
>expect to see your position become popular with time. Until the damn
>things are discovered frozen in blocks of ice, and we can test the DNA
>and perhaps experiment with the frozen sperm and eggs, we simply won't
>ever know for sure. Ditto with language origins, sexual behavior, etc.,

I thought that Australian scientists were finding genetic material from
blood on bones and stones tens of thousands of years old. Is there any
effort being made to look for Neandertal genetic material?