Speciation - how do you know?

Tim Edwards and/or Marghie Parsons (tedwards@DialUp.FranceNet.fr)
Fri, 6 Sep 1996 12:36:59 GMT

I spotted an article in Newsweek about a Japanese researcher who wants
to try to fertilize a modern Indian elephant with the frozen sperm of
a woolly mammoth. (Not anthro, I know, but bear with me). How can he
know whether mammoth and elephant are similar enough to produce
fertile offspring? (I suppose, if it works, he will know for sure.)

In paleoanthropology, how do researchers determine that one creature
is not the same species as another? Am I correct in my understanding
that the question is still open vis-a-vis modern humans and
Neanderthals? Is it pretty much accepted that Homo Erectus was a
separate species?

Tim Edwards - interested lay-person