Re: Hominid Family Tree

Alex Duncan (
12 Oct 1995 02:39:04 GMT

In article <45hds3$i3d@bubba.NMSU.Edu> William Baird,

>Okay, I got sick of the AAT posts in here and got to playing around with
>ascii and thought I'd put together a family tree. If there are some
>glaring mistakes, please inform.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

The black skull belongs in the taxon A. aethiopicus.

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086