Re: so H sapiens evolved from H. erectus?

Susan S. Chin (
Sat, 9 Nov 1996 17:50:39 GMT

Robert Gotschall ( wrote:
: >
: > daniel hwang ( wrote:
: > : given our extreme similarity to the Chimpanzee, i wouldn't be
: > : surprised if we are fully interfertile with H. erectus.

: Susan S. Chin wrote:
: > the two species are separated by *time* as well. That in itself is an
: > isolating mechanism, which as far as I'm aware, constitutes basis for
: > calling them distinct species.

As a qualifier, what I was getting at (or trying to it seems) is species
in themselves are NOT "defined" solely by the ability to interbreed
successfully. There are other criteria that have to be considered:
behavioral, morphological, ecological, and TEMPORAL differences in terms
of when and where these species existed. So it's really not all that
interesting, in my opinion, to speculate *whether* a modern human and
Homo erectus are interfertile. Now if we were to find a frozen Homo
erectus male individual ("Paleolithic Ice Man!") complete with frozen,
nicely preserved sperm, hmmm.. that might be pretty interesting. But

: I have been puzzling over this post for days. It seems obvious that
: however closely we're related to chimps, we are much more closely
: related to H.e.

: Since it is unlikely any modern human ever met an H.e., we are
: technically separate species. I wonder, given our inherent
: chronological bias, just how important that distinction is.
: I suspect we are more closely related then most are willing to admit. A
: better understanding of our ancestors can only improve our understanding
: of ourselves.

Again, as a student of paleoanthro, I would have to say it is not at all
a technicality that we're separate species. We're separate species
because H.s.s. and H.e. are obviously distinct in many ways (as stated
above). Nobody has doubted that we are closely related to H.erectus, not
in this newsgroup anyway. Whether we could successfully interbreed with
Homo erectus is irrelevant to this relationship. For some reason, we all
seem to get hung up over the sex part of species definitions.
Reproduction is one aspect of a species, but lets not forget all the
isolating mechanisms which exist in nature that effectively bar
populations and organisms from reproducing with other populations.