Re: Hominid Family Tree

William Baird (
12 Oct 1995 20:44:45 GMT

In article <45hv48$> Alex Duncan <> writes:

>Phylogenies give the impression that we know things that we really don't.
> We're better off sticking to cladograms.

*nods* Understandable. It is

>But, here are some problems w/ yours (from the top down).
>Cro-Magnons ARE modern H. sapiens. There is no need to distinguish them
>as a separate OTU.

I was under teh impression thhat we were separate subspecies, but it's
quite possible that what I understood was flat wrong...;)

>H. rudolfensis is a name that has most recently been applied to the
>larger habiline species. In comparison to H. erectus/ergaster, H.
>rudolfensis is primitive, and should be in a position closer to the base
>of the Homo section of the phylogeny.

Misunderstanding on my part.

>The supposed morphological differences between H. erectus and H. ergaster
>do not stand up to close examination. They should probably be subsumed
>into a single taxon.

*nods* Absorbed.

>Your tree would have the split between H. sapiens & H. neanderthalensis
>occuring about 1.6 Myr ago. It more likely occured about 400 kyr ago.

The reason I did that was due to the idea that the H. Erectus and H.
Ergaster differences might have continued (Ergaster, IIRC, as supposed to
be a less "robust" form of Erectus) and I thought, almost certainly
wrongly, that the H. sapiens was a continuation of that. Ditto for the
robustness of Erectus and Neanderthalensis.

>The robust australopithecines almost certainly form a clade. This clade
>may or may not include A. africanus, depending on who you talk to.

Robust A.'s are claded now. I was under the impression, when I created
the original tree, that H habilis and A Robustus were both decended of
Africanus...with the older find of Robustus (which I now recall being
posted here) it seems that I was mistaken

>A. afarensis shows derived features that may link it to other
>australopithecines, and exclude it from a place at the base of the Homo
>clade. Probably the safest thing to do w/ A. afarensis is place it as a
>sister taxon to all later hominids.

Do they have a hunch/clue/whatever as to where or how Homo and
Australopithecus are related? (i.e. is H descended of A or are they
sisters? Or....?)

>There is virtually no data yet available for A. anamensis, so placing it
>at as an ancestor for later hominids is pure speculation. It is
>certainly a sister taxon, but I can't imagine saying more about it than
>that, yet.

Understandable. I jumped the gun.

>The black skull belongs in the taxon A. aethiopicus.


>Alex Duncan

New and updated.....


*Version 1.1*
modifications made with the suggestions of Alex Duncan.

Homo Neandertalis Homo Sapiens Sapiens
| |
| |
archaic Homo Sapiens
Homo Erectus/Ergaster
Homo Rudolfensis
Homo Habilis*
A. Africanus** A. Boisei
| A. Robustus |
| | |
| | |
A. Afarensis | | A. Aethiopicus
| ? | |
| | |

Aridpithecus Ramidus Australopithecus Anamensis
| |
| |
? Pan Gorilla
| | |
| | +-------+
+----------+ |
Common Ancestor |
| |

* May be reclassified as multiple species as it appears there was an 'explosive
radiation' at that point.

** Sorry if that this is confusing, but the ancestry of A. Africanus is in still
up in teh air and if it has decendents as well is still up in the air. A.
Africanus *MAY* be the ancestor of may not too. :) A. Afarensis
may be its ancestor and it may not too....ditto for A. Afarensis being Homo's
ancestor. One thing is certain(IMO; *waits for that to be slapped down*),
though; that A Africanus couldn't have made the Laetoli (?sp?) foot prints based
on the Steinfork fossils.

Questions? Comments?

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