Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Definition of the Human Taxonomic Tribe

There was some discussion recently about the classification of fossil humans recently and I mentioned that at one point there was such a thing as "Homo drennani" (which was briefly the name of the Saldhana skullcap, unuversally afterwards seen as the same as the Kabwe skull or "Rhodesian Man" -In the Smithsonian article below I believe this is referred to as "Homo helmi"

April 11, 2012

Four Species of Homo You’ve Never Heard Of

An artist's reconstruction of Homo georgicus. Image courtesy of Wikicommons
While I was doing some research this week, I came across a hominid species I hadn’t heard of before: Homo helmei. The name was first given to a 259,000-year-old partial skull found in Florisbad, South Africa in 1932. The skull resembled early Homo sapiens but possessed many archaic features. Today some researchers think many of the African hominid fossils from around this time should be lumped in the H. helmi species; others call them Homo heidelbergensis, considered by some anthropologists to be the last common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals. And then there are those who don’t really know what to call them.
It turns out I should have known H. helmei. It’s mentioned once in my college human evolution textbook. I even underlined the passage. Still, it’s not a species name that’s frequently used. And it’s just one of several obscure species of Homo that anthropologists don’t universally accept. These unfamiliar members of our genus are often based on a few fossils—sometimes just one—that don’t fit neatly into existing hominid species. Here are a few examples:
Homo gautengensis (lived about 2 million to 820,000 years ago): Earlier this year, Darren Curnoe of the University of New South Wales in Australia announced the possible discovery of a new species of Homo found in China. It wasn’t the first time he had identified a new type of hominid. In 2010, he reanalyzed fossils from the South African caves of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Drimolen and decided that some of the specimens had strangely shaped molar teeth relative to the known South African hominids, such as Australopithecus africanus. He grouped the weird forms into their own species, Homo gautengensis, claiming it was probably the earliest member of the genus Homo.
Homo georgicus (1.8 million years ago): In 1991, anthropologists found the jaw of a hominid in the Caucasus Mountains of Dmanisi, Georgia. The researchers dug up additional hominid fossils as well as stone tools throughout the 1990s. The fossils looked similar to those of Homo erectus. But in 2000, they found an unusual jaw; its size and shape didn’t quite match H. erectus or any other known hominid that lived about 1.8 million years ago. So the team gave the jaw a new name, Homo georgicus. Since then, more bones that might belong to H. georgicus have been unearthed. The researchers speculate that two types of hominids might have lived in Georgia at this time (PDF): H. georgicus and H. erectus (or something closely related to it).
Homo cepranensis (450,000 years ago): Just one fossil, an incomplete skull, represents the species Homo cepranensis. It’s named for Ceprano, Italy, where the fossil was discovered during the construction of a road in 1994. The short, broad, thick skull didn’t quite fit with other hominids of the time, such as H. erectus and H. heidelbergensis, so anthropologists gave it its own name. But the Italian fossil did share some cranial features, like the shape of the brow ridges, with hominids living in Africa a few hundred thousand years ago (about the same time as H. helmei), leading researchers to speculate H. cepranensis was perhaps ancestral to these African forms.
Posted By: Erin Wayman
And we should check this against the standard laundry list:



By rights, this should be a short section. Even in the hands of the more avid splitters currently working on it, the Hominini has never been an overly large clade, and only a single species is still extant. And yet, because of the minor detail that this species happens to be our own, the Hominini continues to receive a great deal of attention.
One side-effect of this high level of interest is that the Hominini have suffered to an extraordinary degree from bad and/or sloppy taxonomy. Almost every species known from more than one fossil individual has accrued a sizeable synonymy, with many available specimens being assigned their own names (both species and genus) at some point, and some single specimens even being assigned multiple names. The tree below attempts some order from the chaos. It presents more of a splitter's perspective on hominin evolution - many species would not be recognised by more conservative workers, some of whom would reduce the genus Homo, for instance, to only three species - Homo habilis, H. erectus and H. sapiens. (Why is Homo neanderthalensis left out?) There is also a considerable degree of debate of how best to treat the paraphyletic series of taxa generally included in the genus Australopithecus (the species between 'Australopithecus' anamensis and Paranthropus robustus in the tree below), with none of the suggested alternatives being really satisfactory.
(see below for synonymy in all cases)

<==Hominini [Australopithecina, Australopithecinae, Praeanthropinae]
   |--Sahelanthropus Brunet, Guy et al. 2002
   |    `--*S. tchadensis Brunet, Guy et al. 2002
   `--+--Ardipithecus White, Suwa & Asfaw 1995
      |    |--*A. ramidus (White, Suwa & Asfaw 1994) [=Australopithecus ramidus]
      |    `--A. kadabba Haile-Selassie 2001 [=A. ramidus kadabba]
      `--+--Orrorin Senut, Pickford et al. 2001
         |    `--*O. tugenensis Senut, Pickford et al. 2001 [=Praeanthropus tugenensis]
         `--+--‘Australopithecus’ anamensis Leakey, Feibel et al. 1995 
                    [=Praeanthropus anamensis]
            `--+--Praeanthropus Senyürek 1955
               |    |--P. afarensis (Johanson in Hinrichson 1978) (nom. cons.) 
               |    `--P. bahrelghazali Brunet et al. 1996[=Australopithecus bahrelghazali]
               `--+--‘Australopithecus’ garhi Asfaw, White et al. 1999
                        [=Praeanthropus garhi]
                  `--+--Australopithecus Dart 1925 [incl. Plesianthropus Broom 1938]
                     |    `--*A. africanus Dart 1925 
                     `--+--+--Kenyanthropus Leakey et al. 2001
                        |  |    `--*K. platyops Leakey et al. 2001 [=Homo platyops]
                        |  `--Paranthropus Broom 1938          
                        |       |--+--P. aethiopicus(Arambourg & Coppens)                   
                        |       |  `--P. boisei (Leakey 1959) 
                        |       `--+--P. crassidens Broom 1949[=Australopithecus crassidens]
                        |          `--P. robustus Broom 1938 [=Australopithecus robustus]
                        `--Homo Linnaeus 1758 (see below for synonymy)
                             |  i. s.: H. dubius Koenigswald 1950 [=Pithecanthropus dubius]
                             |         H. kanamensis Leakey 1935
                             |         H. modjokertensis von Koenigswald 1936
                                           [=Pithecanthropus modjokertensis]
                             |         H. palaeojavanicus Weidenreich 1944
                                          [=Meganthropus palaeojavanicus]
                             |--H. habilis Leakey, Tobias & Napier 1964 
                             |--H. floresiensis Brown, et al. 2004
                             `--+--H. rudolfensis (Alexeev 1986) 
                                `--+--H. ergaster Groves & Mazák 1975 [=H. erectus ergaster]
                                   |--H. georgicus Gabounia, de Lumley et al. 2002
                                   `--+-----H. erectus (Dubois 1892)
                                        |       |--H. e. erectus
                                      |       `--H. e. wushanensis
                                      `--+--H. antecessor Bermúdez de Castro,Arsuaga etal. 
                                         |--H. cepranensis Mallegni, Carnieri et al. 2003
                                         |--H. mauritanicus (Arambourg 1954) 
                                         `--+--H. heidelbergensis Schoetensack 1908 
                                            `--+--H. neanderthalensis King 1864 
                                               `--+--H. rhodesiensis Woodward 1921 
                                                  `--H. sapiens Linnaeus 1758 
                                                       |--H. s. sapiens
                                                       ?--H. s. idaltu White, Asfaw etal. 
                                                       ?--H. s. narmadensis Sonakia 1982 
*Australopithecus africanus Dart 1925 [=Homo africanus; incl. A. prometheus Dart 1948, A. transvaalensis Broom 1936, *Plesianthropus transvaalensis]
Homo Linnaeus 1758 [incl. Africanthropus Dreyer 1935, Atlanthropus Arambourg 1954, Cyphanthropus Pycraft 1928, Meganthropus, Paleoanthropus Kohl-Larsen & Reck 1936, Pithecanthropus Dubois 1894, Protanthropus Haeckel 1895, Sinanthropus Black 1927, Tchadanthropus Coppens 1965, Telanthropus Broom & Robinson 1949]
Homo erectus (Dubois 1892) [=Anthropopithecus erectus, Pithecanthropus erectus; incl. Sinanthropus lantianensis Woo 1964, Homo leakeyi Clarke 1990 non Paterson 1940, H. erectus leakeyi, H. (Proanthropus) louisleakeyi Kretzoi 1984, Sinanthropus officinalis von Koenigswald 1953, H. erectus olduvaiensis Tobias 1968 (n. n.), S. pekinensis Black 1927, H. erectus pekinensis, H. (Javanthropus) soloensis Oppenoorth 1932, H. erectus soloensis]
Homo habilis Leakey, Tobias & Napier 1964 [=Australopithecus habilis]
Homo heidelbergensis Schoetensack 1908 [incl. *Paleoanthropus njarensis Kohl-Larsen & Reck 1936, Homo saldanensis Drennan 1953]
Homo mauritanicus (Arambourg 1954) [=Atlanthropus mauritanicus, H. erectus mauritanicus]
Homo neanderthalensis King 1864 [=H. sapiens neanderthalensis; incl. H. breladensis Marett 1911, H. calpicus Keith 1911, H. primigenius Schaaffhausen 1880, H. transprimigenius Forrer 1908]
Homo rhodesiensis Woodward 1921 [=*Cyphanthropus rhodesiensis, H. sapiens rhodesiensis; incl. Africanthropus njarascensis Weinert 1939]
Homo rudolfensis (Alexeev 1986) [=Pithecanthropus rudolfensis, Australopithecus rudolfensis, Kenyanthropus rudolfensis]
Homo sapiens Linnaeus 1758 [incl. H. aethiopicus Bory de St. Vincent 1825, H. sapiens afer Linnaeus 1758, Telanthropus capensis Broom & Robinson 1949, H. erectus capensis, H. sapiens capensis, H. (Africanthropus) helmei Dreyer 1935, H. leakeyi Paterson 1940, H. spelaeus Lapouge 1899, Tchadanthropus uxoris Coppens 1965]
Homo sapiens narmadensis Sonakia 1982 [=H. erectus narmadensis]
Paranthropus Broom 1938 [incl. Paraustralopithecus Arambourg & Coppens 1967, Zinjanthropus Leakey 1959]
Paranthropus aethiopicus (Arambourg & Coppens 1968) [=*Paraustralopithecus aethiopicus, Australopithecus aethiopicus; incl. A. walkeri Ferguson 1989]
Paranthropus boisei (Leakey 1959) [=*Zinjanthropus boisei, Australopithecus boisei]
Praeanthropus afarensis (Johanson in Hinrichson 1978) (nom. cons.) [=Australopithecus afarensis, A. africanus afarensis; incl. A. africanus aethiopicus Tobias 1980 non Paraustralopithecus aethiopicus Arambourg & Coppens 1968, Homo aethiopicus (Tobias) non Bory de St. Vincent 1825, Meganthropus africanus Weinert 1950 (nom. rej.), *Praeanthropus africanus, H. antiquus Ferguson 1984, Australopithecus antiquus, H. antiquus praegens Ferguson 1989]
* Type species of generic name indicated


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  1. hey Dale i wanted to contact one of your readers about a possibly very interesting sounding map but i cant figure out how to do that

  2. You can use the comments as a message board of sorts but its pretty hit-or-miss. You would then post the message ou would want that person to see in the comments section where you hope the other person would see it. And in the event of any difficulties I would be acting as a go-between if I was receiving messages from both of you but you didn't have each other's email addresses.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.


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