Re: Neanderthals' Noses Blow Scientists Away

Susan S. Chin (
Fri, 4 Oct 1996 07:06:41 GMT

Nick Maclaren ( wrote:
: In article <>,
: Don Staples <> wrote:
: >
: >Species identification needs more precision than the limited factor of
: >singular observations. I beleave that there are enough racial
: >differences in modern man to allow destinction by race from skeletal
: >structure, but all HS.

: Yes, there are. It is trivial to separate most populations and often
: easy to distinguish even individual skeletons. In fact, I am 90%
: certain that you can separate mainly celtic groups from mainly
: germanic ones on the basis of the skulls alone! The same is true for
: many geographical variants of other mammals.

This brings up the question of the amount of morphological variability
that can be accomodated into one species. Homo sapiens sapiens today
displays a wide range of morphological differences often expressed
in terms of race or geographical variants.

But is it safe to assume that ancestral hominid species would have similiar
levels of variation? I don't think so, and as the fossil record shows,
they don't. The level of morphological variability observed in H.s.s. is
likely unique to our species and a result of greater geographical
dispersal than our predecessors, thus the opportunity to develop
recognizable regional differences....

I'm not saying anyone here is doing this, comparing Homo sapiens sapiens
variability with fossil taxa, but it is something often seen in discussions
of species. But is it valid. And do morphological differences always
mean or imply the "same" thing. There obviously aren't any clear
answers that I know of here. Just wanted to see what interested and possibly
better informed parties think about this.