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Fossil Evidence for Early Man?

March 17, 2009

Sahelanthropus tchadensis: a fossil ape. Sahelanthropus may represent a common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees; though most scientists disagree. Evidence supports the fact that S.tchadensis did in fact walk upright, though no-one can be positive. The original placement of this species as a human ancestor but not a chimpanzee ancestor would complicate the picture of human phylogeny. In particular, if Toumaï is a direct human ancestor, then its facial features bring the status of Australopithecus into doubt because its thickened brow ridges were reported to be similar to those of some later fossil hominids (notably Homo erectus), whereas this morphology differs from that observed in all australopithecines, most fossil hominids and extant humans. So which is it, ape, man or missing link?

Orrorin tugenensis is considered to be the second-oldest known hominin ancestor that is possibly related to modern humans and is the only species classified in genus Orrorin. The name was given by the discoverers who found Orrorin fossils in the Tugen Hills of Kenya. By using radiometric dating techniques, the volcanic tuffs and lavas, faunal correlation and magneto-stratigraphy, the strata in which the fossils were found were estimated to date between 6.1 and 5.8 million years ago, during the Miocene. This find is important because it is possibly an early bipedal hominin. The fossils found so far come from at least five individuals. They include a proximal femur, which is insufficient evidence to prove that it was bipedal, though some scholars suggest that Orrorin walked upright; a right humerus shaft, suggestive of tree-climbing skills but not brachiation; and teeth that suggest a diet similar to Paranthropoids. The obturator externus groove on the posterior aspect of the neck of the fossil femur suggests that Orrorin tugenensis moved bipedally. The bunodont, microdont molars and small canines suggest that Orrorin ate mostly fruit and vegetables, with occasional meat. Orrorin was about the size of a modern chimpanzee  With the little fossil evidence there is its hard to believe what is being read into it. Could it be a chimp? If it looks like a chimp, and walks like a chimp and climbs like a chimp, it must be a chimp.

Ardipithecus ramidus A. ramidus was named in September 1994. The first fossil find was dated to 4.4 million years ago based on its interval between two volcanic strata: the basal Gaala Tuff Complex (GATC) and the Daam Aatu Basaltic Tuff (DABT). Subsequent fossil discoveries by Yohannes Haile-Selassie and Giday WoldeGabriel — if identified as A. ramidus — would push the date back as far as 5.8 million years ago. In 1992-1993 a research team headed by Tim White discovered the first A. ramidus fossils — seventeen fragments including skull, mandible, teeth and arm bones — from the Afar Depression in the Middle Awash river valley of Ethiopia. More fragments were recovered in 1994, amounting to 45 percent of the total skeleton. This fossil was originally described as an Australopithecine, but White and his colleagues later published a note in the same journal renaming the fossil under a new genus, Ardipithecus. This fossil is not considered a hominid ancestor by scholars. Because this genus shares several traits with the African great ape genera (genus Pan and genus Gorilla), some consider it to be on the chimpanzee rather than human branch, but most consider it a proto-human because of a likeness in teeth with Australopithecus On the basis of bone sizes, Ardipithecus species are believed to have been about the size of a modern chimpanzee. All this from 17 fragments. You have got to be kidding!

Australopithecus anamensis is a fossil species of Australopithecus. The first fossilized specimen of the species, though not recognized as such at the time, was a single arm bone found in Pliocene strata in the Kanapoi region of East Lake Turkana by a Harvard University research team in 1965. The specimen was tentatively assigned at the time to Australopithecus and dated about four million years old. Little additional information was uncovered until 1987, when Canadian archaeologist Allan Morton (with Harvard University’s Koobi Fora Field School) discovered fragments of a specimen protruding from a partially eroded hillside east of Allia Bay, near Lake Turkana, Kenya. Six years later the London-born Kenyan paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey and archaeologist Alan Walker excavated the Allia Bay site and uncovered several additional fragments of the hominid, including one complete lower jaw bone which closely resembles that of a common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) but whose teeth are much more similar to those of a human. In 1995, Meave Leakey and her associates, taking note of differences between Australopithecus afarensis and the new finds, assigned them to a new species, A. anamensis, deriving its name from the Turkana word anam, meaning “lake”.[1] Leakey determined that this species was independent of any others. It does not represent an intermediate species of any type.Although the excavation team did not find hips, feet or legs, Meave Leakey believes that Australopithecus anamensis often climbed trees. Tree climbing was one behavior retained by early hominins until the appearance of the first Homo species about 2.5 million years ago. A. anamensis shares many traits with Australopithecus afarensis and may well be its direct predecessor. A. anamensis is thought to have lived from 4.1 and 3.9 million years ago. The older specimens were found between two layers of volcanic ash, dated to 4.17 and 4.12 million years, coincidentally when A. afarensis appears in the fossil record. The fossils (twenty one in total) include upper and lower jaws, cranial fragments, and the upper and lower parts of a leg bone (tibia). In addition to this, a fragment of humerus that was found thirty years ago at the same site at Kanapoi has now been assigned to this species.

In 2006, a new A. anamensis find was officially announced, extending the range of A. anamensis into north east Ethiopia. These new fossils, sampled from a woodland context, include the largest hominid canine yet recovered and the earliest Australopithecus femur.[2] The find was in an area known as Middle Awash, home to several other more modern Australopithecus finds and only six miles away from the discovery site of Ardipithecus ramidus, the most modern species of Ardipithecus yet discovered. Ardipithecus was a more primitive hominid, considered the next known step below Australopithecus on the evolutionary tree. The A. anamensis find is dated to about 4.2 million years ago, the Ar. ramidus find to 4.4 million years ago, placing only 200,000 years between the two species and filling in yet another blank in the pre-Australopithecus hominid evolutionary timeline Yeah with an infinite number of blanks yet to fill. Chimp!

Kenyanthropus platyops is a 3.5 to 3.2 million year old (Pliocene) extinct hominin species that was discovered in Lake Turkana, Kenya in 1999 by Justus Erus, who was part of Meave Leakey‘s team. [1] The fossil found features a broad flat face with a toe bone that suggests it probably walked upright. Teeth are intermediate between typical human and typical ape forms. Kenyanthropus platyops, which means “Flat faced man of Kenya“, is the only described species in the genus. However, if some paleoanthropologists are correct, Kenyanthropus may not even represent a valid taxon, as the specimen (KNM-WT 40000)[2] is so distorted by matrix-filled cracks that meaningful morphologic characteristics are next to impossible to assess with confidence. It may simply be a specimen of Australopithecus afarensis, which is known from the same time period and geographic area. Other researches speculate that the flatter face position of the rough cranium is similar to KNM ER 1470 “Homo rudolfensis” and suspect it to be closer to the genus Homo, perhaps being a direct ancestor. However the debate has not been concluded and the species remains an enigma. Thirty skull and tooth fragments? A mystery? They don’t have the foggiest idea what this is because they are so busy trying to read all kinds of nonsense into the evidence to support their presupposed theory of Evolution! That much is clear.

Australopithecus africanus was an early hominid, an australopithecine, who lived between 2-3 million years ago in the Pliocene.[2] In common with the older Australopithecus afarensis, A. africanus was slenderly built, or gracile, and was thought to have been a direct ancestor of modern humans. Fossil remains indicate that A. africanus was significantly more like modern humans than A. afarensis, with a more human-like cranium permitting a larger brain and more humanoid facial features. A. africanus has been found at only four sites in southern Africa – Taung (1924), Sterkfontein (1935), Makapansgat (1948) and Gladysvale (1992) Raymond Dart was at Taung near Kimberley, South Africa in 1924 when one of his colleagues spotted a few bone fragments and the cranium on the desk of a lime worker.[3] The skull seemed like an odd ape creature sharing human traits such as eye orbits, teeth, and, most importantly, the hole at the base of the skull over the spinal column (the foramen magnum) indicating a human-like posture. Dart assigned the specimen the name Australopithecus africanus (“southern ape of Africa”). This was the first time the word Australopithecus was assigned to any hominid. Dart claimed that the skull must have been an intermediate species between ape and humans, but his claim about the Taung Child was rejected by the scientific community at the time due to the belief that a large cranial capacity must precede bipedal locomotion,[1] this was exacerbated by the widespread acceptance of the Piltdown Man. Sir Arthur Keith, a fellow anatomist and anthropologist, suggested that the skull belonged to a young ape, most likely from an infant gorilla. Like A. afarensis, A. africanus the South African counterpart was generally similar in many traits, a bipedal hominid with arms slightly larger than the legs (a physical trait also found in chimpanzees). Despite its slightly more human-like cranial features, seen for example in the craniums Mr. Ples and Sts 71, other more primitive features including ape-like curved fingers for tree climbing are also present. Another chimp! Look at the sculpture.

Australopithecus garhi is a gracile australopithecine species whose fossils were discovered in 1996 by a research team led by Ethiopian paleontologist Berhane Asfaw and Tim White, an American paleontologist. The hominin remains were initially believed to be a human ancestor species and the final missing link between the Australopithecus genus and the human genus, Homo. However it is now believed that A. garhi, although more advanced than any other australopithecine, was only a competitor species to the species ancestral to Homo and therefore not a human ancestor. The remains are from the time when there are very few fossil records, between 2.0 and 3.0 million years ago. Tim White was the scientist to find the first of the key A. garhi fossils in 1996 near the village of Bouri, located in the Middle Awash of Ethiopia‘s Afar Depression. The species was confirmed and established as A. garhi on November 20, 1997 by the Ethiopian paleoanthropologist Yohannes Haile-Selassie. Nothing conclusive here.

 

Australopithecus aethiopicus Very little is known about Australopithecus aethiopicus, since so few specimens have been attributed to the species, but the features that are known provide important insights into the possible evolutionary history between the “robust” and “gracile” australopithecines. In general, aethiopicus shows a mixture of both primitive and derived features, and dates to a time that makes it a significant addition into the hominid phylogenetic tree. The first specimen attributed to this species group is an edentulous mandible (Omo 18) found in southern Ethiopia, west of the Omo River, in 1967. The specimen was discovered by a French expedition led by Camille Arambourg and Yves Coppens. This 2.5 million-year-old mandible was placed into a new species by its discoverers, who named the species Paraustralopithecus aethiopicus. They believed that the specimen deserved a new species designation because its v-shaped jaw (among other features) distinguished it from the robust australopithecus forms known in the area. Generally, the discovery and designation was ignored by the majority of paleoanthropologists.  Not until the Black Skull discovery was there much interest in the specimen, but once KNM-WT 17000 was discovered, interest was renewed in the Omo mandible. The genus name was dropped in favor of the more traditional Australopithecus designation, but Arambourg and Coppens’ species designation of aethiopicus was taken as the species name. This species designation is still debated. Why? Because they have eyes and are too blind to see.

Australopithecus robustus The species Australopithecus robustus was first discovered and named by the eminent Dr. Robert Broom. Broom made a habit of buying fossil remains from a lime quarry worker, and on a particular visit on June 8, 1938, Broom bought a maxillary fragment containing a first molar. The shape and the size of the molar convinced Broom that this was a different species than A. africanus (Broom’s transvaalensis), and upon further investigation, found that the specimen had been found by a young boy who worked in the cave as a guide on Sundays. Broom searched for the boy (Gert Terblanche) and found him at school. Broom lectured the boy’s class on the cave sites of the area, and was then led to the place of the specimen’s discovery, Kromdraai. Broom found several more cranial and mandibular fragments associated with the original maxillary specimen, and this partial cranium (TM 1517) became the type specimen for A. robustus. The A. robustus remains generally are from three sites: Swartkrans, Dreimulen, and Kromdraai (with the aforementioned Sterkfontein specimen possibly included.) By far the largest of these sites is Swartkrans. One of the major problems with these South African sites is dating, but generally, robustus remains can be safely placed from 2.0-1.0 myr, and possibly even earlier. The dating of these sites is crucial to understanding the phylogeny of the robust australopithecines, but for now, the dates are somewhat in question. An understanding of the characteristics of robustus can best be seen by comparing them to an earlier specie (africanus) and a penecontemporary one (boisei).The robustus crania are many, but fragmentary, with a known cranial capacity for just one individual specimen, SK 1585, an endocast with a 530 cc capacity. There is evidence of significant expansion over africanus, with an estimated 15% average increase in brain size over africanus. The sexual dimorphism level of about 20% seems to be basically unchanged. In his analysis of SK 1585, R. Holloway concluded that robustus shows a general trend towards a more modern brain – similar to that of boisei – over that of africanus. Behold the Orangutan!

Australopithecus boisei: First discovered by anthropologist Mary Leakey in July 1959 at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, the well-preserved cranium OH 5 (nicknamed “Nutcracker Man“) was dated to 1.75 million years old and had characteristics distinctive of the robust australopithecines. Mary and her husband Louis Leakey classified the specimen as Zinjanthropus boisei: “Zinj” for the medieval East African region of Zanj, “anthropus” meaning ape or ape-human, and “boisei” for Charles Boise (the anthropologists team’s funder at the time). Paranthropus boisei (as the species was eventually categorized) proved to be a treasure especially when the anthropologists’ son Richard Leakey considered it to be the first hominin species to use stone tools. Another skull was unearthed in 1969 by Richard at Koobi Fora near the Lake Turkana region. The brain volume is quite small, about 500 and 550 cm³, not much larger in comparison to Australopithecus afarensis and Australopithecus africanus. It had a skull highly specialized for heavy chewing and several traits seen in modern day gorillas. P. boisei inhabited savannah woodland territories. Males weighed 68 kg (150 lb) and stood 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in) tall, while females weighed 45 kg (99 lb) and stood 1.05 m (3 ft 5 in) tall. The average adult males were much larger than females (sexual dimorphism), as was the case in virtually all australopithecine species. The back molar teeth were relatively large, with an area over twice as great as is found in modern humans.[1] The species is sometimes referred to as “Nutcracker Man” because it has the biggest, flattest cheek teeth and the thickest enamel of any known hominin.  In 1993, A. Amzaye found fossils of P. boisei at Konso, Ethiopia. The partial skull’s designation is KGA10-525 and is dated to 1.4 million years old. It is the biggest skull specimen ever found of P. boisei. It has been claimed as the only remains of the species found in Ethiopia; all others have been in other parts of Eastern Africa. The oldest specimen of P. boisei was found in Omo, Ethiopia and dates to 2.3 million years old classified as (L. 74a-21) while the youngest speciemen from Olduvai Gorge dates 1.2 million years old classified as OH 3 and OH 38. See above.

Homo habilis (pronounced /ˈhoʊmoʊ ˈhæbəlɪs/) (“handy man”, “skillful person”) is a species of the genus Homo, which lived from approximately 2.5 million to at least 1.6 million years ago at the beginning of the Pleistocene.[1] The definition of this species is credited to both Mary and Louis Leakey, who found fossils in Tanzania, East Africa, between 1962 and 1964.[2] Homo habilis is arguably the first species of the Homo genus to appear. In its appearance and morphology, H. habilis was the least similar to modern humans of all species to be placed in the genus Homo (except possibly Homo rudolfensis). Homo habilis was short and had disproportionately long arms compared to modern humans; however, it had a reduction in the protrusion in the face. It is thought to have descended from a species of australopithecine hominid. Its immediate ancestor may have been the more massive and ape-like Homo rudolfensis. Homo habilis had a cranial capacity slightly less than half of the size of modern humans. Despite the ape-like morphology of the bodies, H. habilis remains are often accompanied by primitive stone tools (e.g. Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania and Lake Turkana, Kenya). Homo habilis has often been thought to be the ancestor of the lankier and more sophisticated Homo ergaster, which in turn gave rise to the more human-appearing species, Homo erectus. Debates continue over whether H. habilis is a direct human ancestor, and whether all of the known fossils are properly attributed to the species. However, in 2007, new findings suggest that the two species coexisted and may be separate lineages from a common ancestor instead of H. erectus being descended from H. habilis  One set of fossil remains (OH 62), discovered by Donald Johanson and Tim White in Olduvai Gorge in 1986, included the important upper and lower limbs. An older (1963) finding from the Olduvai site found by N. Mbuika had included a lower jaw fragment, teeth and upper mandible possibly from a female dating 1.7 million years old. The remains from 3 skeletons stacked on top of each other[4] demonstrated australopithecine-like body with a more human-like face and smaller teeth. Compared to australopithecines, H. habilis’s brain capacity of 590 and 650 cm³ was on average 50% larger than australopithecines, but considerably smaller than the 1350 to 1450 cm³ range of modern Homo sapiens. These hominins were smaller than modern humans, on average standing no more than 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in) tall. The small size and rather primitive attributes have led some experts (Richard Leakey among them) to propose excluding H. habilis from the genus Homo, and renaming as “Australopithecus habilis“. The sculpture reveals a chimp which has been ‘humanized’ while the size reveals a chimp.

Homo georgicus is a species of hominin that was suggested in 2002 to describe fossil skulls and jaws found in Dmanisi, Georgia in 1999 and 2001, which seem intermediate between Homo habilis and H. erectus.[1] A partial skeleton was discovered in 2001. The fossils are about 1.8 million years old. The remains were first discovered in 1991 by Georgian scientist, David Lordkipanidze, accompanied by an international team which unearthed the hominin remains. Implements and animal bones were found alongside the ancient hominin remains. At first, scientists thought they had found mandibles and skulls belonging to Homo ergaster, but size differences led them to consider erecting a new species, Homo georgicus, which would be the descendant of Homo habilis and ancestor of Asian Homo erectus.  This one was little and the skull doesn’t look different than regular human skulls. Could it be a little kid?

Homo erectus (Latin: upright man) is an extinct species of the genus Homo, believed to have been the first hominin to leave Africa. H. erectus originally migrated from Africa during the Early Pleistocene, possibly as a result of the operation of the Saharan pump, around 2.0 million years ago, and dispersed throughout most of the Old World. Fossilized remains 1.8 and 1.0 million years old have been found in Africa (e.g., Lake Turkana[1] and Olduvai Gorge), Europe (Georgia, Spain), Indonesia (e.g., Sangiran and Trinil), Vietnam, and China (e.g., Shaanxi). Homo erectus has fairly derived morphological features and a larger cranial capacity than that of Homo habilis, although new finds from Dmanisi in the Republic of Georgia show distinctively small crania. The forehead (frontal bone) is less sloping and the teeth are smaller (quantification of these differences is difficult, however; see below). Homo erectus had a brain size that expanded with time (850 in the earliest to 1100 cm³ in the latest Javan examples)[6] the latter which overlaps with modern humans. These early hominines stood about 1.79 m (5 ft 10+12 in), Except for the stretching out of the face which is not in character with the skull, looks human to me.

Homo ergaster[1] is an extinct hominin species (or subspecies, according to some authorities) which lived throughout eastern and southern Africa between 1.9 to 1.4 million years ago with the advent of the lower Pleistocene and the cooling of the global climate. H. ergaster is sometimes categorized as a subspecies of Homo erectus. H. ergaster may be distinguished from H. erectus by its thinner skull bones and lack of an obvious sulcus. Derived features include reduced sexual dimorphism; a smaller, more orthognathic (straight jawed) face; a smaller dental arcade; and a larger (700 and 850 cm³) cranial capacity. It is estimated that H. ergaster stood at 1.9 metres (6.2 ft) tall. Remains have been found in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa. And I’m sure that there is just no way that these could be Africans!

Homo antecessor is an extinct hominin and a potential distinct species dating from 1.2 million to 800,000 years ago, that was discovered by Eudald Carbonell, J. L. Arsuaga and J. M. Bermúdez de Castro. H. antecessor is one of the earliest known hominins in Europe. Many anthropologists believe that H. antecessor is either the same species or a direct antecedent to Homo heidelbergensis, who inhabited Europe from 600,000 to 250,000 years ago in the Pleistocene. The best-preserved fossil is a maxilla which belonged to a 10-year-old individual found in Spain. Based on palaeomagnetic measurements, it is thought to be older than 780-857 ka (Falguères et al., 1999:351). The average brain was 1000 cm³ in volume. In 1994 and 1995, 80 fossils of six individuals that may have belonged to the species were found in Atapuerca. At the site were numerous examples of cuts where the flesh had been flensed from the bones, which indicates that H. antecessor could have practised cannibalism Homo antecessor was about 1.6-1.8 m (5½-6) feet tall, and males weighed roughly 90 kg (200 pounds). Their brain sizes were roughly 1000-1150 cm³, smaller than the 1350 cm³ average of modern humans. Due to its scarcity, very little more is known about the physiology of H. antecessor, yet it was likely to have been more robust than H. heidelbergensis. According to Juan Luis Arsuaga, one of the co-directors of the excavation in Burgos, H. antecessor might have been right-handed, a trait that makes him different from the apes. The hypothesis is based on tomography techniques. Arsuaga also claims that the frequency range of audition is similar to H. sapiens’ which makes him believe that H. antecessor used a symbolic language and was able to reason.[2] Arsuaga’s team is currently pursuing a DNA map of H. antecessor after elucidating that of a bear that lived in northern Spain some 500,000 years ago. And they got all this from two pieces of a face. Talk about reading into the text. Whoa!

Homo heidelbergensis (“Heidelberg Man”) is an extinct species of the genus Homo which may be the direct ancestor of Homo neanderthalensis in Europe. The best evidence found for these hominins date between 600,000 and 400,000 years ago. H. heidelbergensis stone tool technology was considerably close to that of the Acheulean tools used by Homo erectus. Both H. antecessor and H. heidelbergensis are likely descended from the morphologically very similar Homo ergaster from Africa. But because H. heidelbergensis had a larger brain-case with a typical cranial average of modern humans and had more advanced tools and had more behavior, it has been given a separate species classification. The species was 1.8 meters tall on average, and more muscular than modern humans. Really?

In theory recent findings in Atapuerca also suggest that H. heidelbergensis may have been the first species of the Homo genus to bury their dead, but that is contested at this time. Some experts believe that H. heidelbergensis, like its descendant H. Neanderthalensis acquired a primitive form of language. No forms of art or sophisticated artifacts other than stone tools have been uncovered, although red ochre, a mineral that can be used to create a red pigment which is useful as a paint, has been found at Terra Amata excavations in the south of France. There’s a whole lot of speculation going on here!

Homo neanderthalensis The beginning of paleoanthropology as a scientific discipline began on an August day in 1856. On that day the specimen that was to become known as Neanderthal 1 was discovered in the Feldhofer grotto, in the Neander Valley, Germany. The material was found in a limestone quarry near the city of Düsseldorf. The material recovered consisted of a skull cap, two femora, the three right arm bones, two of the left arm bones, part of the left ilium, and fragments of a scapula and ribs. These fossils were recovered by the quarry workers and set aside to be given to a local teacher and amateur naturalist, Johann Karl Fuhlrott. Fuhlrott suspected that these bones represented unique pieces of the human past, and left the description of the material to anatomist Hermann Schaaffhausen. The find was announced jointly in 1857, two years before Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. While this find was the beginning of paleoanthropology, it was also the beginning of a long debate that is just a vigorous today as it was a hundred years ago. German scientist R. Virchow claimed that it was the skeleton of a diseased Cossack cavalryman, with thick browridges developed from constantly furrowing his brow in pain. Even when the validity of remains attributed to Neanderthal were no longer in such question, the description of Neanderthals was still full of controversy. M. Boule and H. Vallois were the most prominent of those who believed that Neanderthals had no place in modern ancestry. These two supported the idea that Neanderthals were more apelike than human, were of simian intelligence, and walked in an apelike gait. These perceptions were based on both the misinterpretation of the La Chapelle-aux-Saints specimen as typic of the species (this species was an older individual with chronic arthritis throughout its body), and on the prejudices of these researchers, who refused to accept any evidence that related Neanderthals closely to modern Europeans. You know, I could dig up bones and piece them together any way I wanted; put longer arms on a short body, a bigger head. Fakery is easy. Truth is hard!

Homo floresiensis (“Flores Man”, nicknamed Hobbit) is a possible species in the genus Homo, remarkable for its small body and brain and for its survival until relatively recent times. It was named after the Indonesian island of Flores on which the remains were found.[1][2] One largely complete subfossil skeleton (named LB1, because it was the first specimen found in the Liang Bua cave) and a complete jawbone from a second individual (LB2),[3] dated at 18,000 years old, were discovered in deposits in Liang Bua Cave on Flores in 2003. Parts of seven other individuals (LB3–LB9; the most complete is LB6), all diminutive, have been recovered as well as similarly small stone tools from horizons ranging from 94,000 to 13,000 years ago.[4] Descriptions of the remains were first published in October 2004.[1][2] To date, the only complete cranium is that of LB1.The discoverers (anthropologists Peter Brown, Michael Morwood and their colleagues) have argued that a variety of features, both primitive and derived, identified the skeleton of LB1 as that of a new species of hominin, H. floresiensis.[1][2] They argued that it lived contemporaneously with modern humans (Homo sapiens) on Flores.Doubts that the remains constitute a new species were soon voiced by the Indonesian anthropologist Teuku Jacob, who suggested that the skull of LB1 was a microcephalic modern human. A controversy developed, leading to the publication of a number of studies which supported or rejected claims for species status. In March 2005 scientists who published details of the brain of Flores Man in Science supported species status.[5] Several researchers, including one scientist who worked on the initial study, have disputed the 2005 study, supporting the conclusion that the skull is microcephalic.[6][7] The original discoverers have argued against these interpretations and maintain that H. floresiensis is a distinct species.[4][8] This is supported by a recent study published by paleoneurologist Dean Falk and his colleagues that disputes the possibility of microcephaly.[9] They compared the H. floresiensis brain to ten microcephalic brains, and revealed distinct differences that have so far gone unanswered by critics. In addition, a 2007 study of carpal bones of H. floresiensis found similarities to those of a chimpanzee or early hominin such as Australopithecus and significant differences from the bones of modern humans.[10] Studies of the bones and joints of the arm and shoulder have also suggested that H. floresiensis was more similar to early humans and apes than modern humans.[11][12] However, critics of the claim to species status continue to suggest alternative explanations. One recent hypothesis is that the individuals were born without a functioning thyroid, resulting from a type of endemic cretinism (myxoedematous, ME).[13] This idea has been dismissed by members of the original discovery team as based on a misinterpretation of the data.

After viewing all this stuff and seeing the ‘artistic depictions’ as well as the sculpture renderings let me tell you something; I have seen chimps and orangutans and stretched out features on skulls as well the ‘Could have, Might have been, Possibly may have…etc. This along with the ‘we don’t really know and the Carl Saganistic “Millions and Millions of years. Really: I’d like to see some real evidence for ‘early man’ rather than all of this. Yes there are skeletons and pieces of bones and really cool Latin names and such but wow, talk about reading into the evidence to make your case. I would never, could never speculate like this with a straight face and a clear conscience.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. wintermute permalink
    March 18, 2009 12:49 pm

    So, you look at a couple of paragraphs of summary of where the consensus currently stands from Wikipedia, and because that summary doesn’t go into the technical details of how we know what we know, you feel qualified to declare that it must be wrong. One long list of “yeah, right!” and “these are all fakes!” is not very convincing.

    For example, here are 550 papers on H. antecessor, which you dismiss with “And they got all this from two pieces of a face”, despite the fact that your own text indicates that one single find consisted of 80 fossils from 6 individuals.

    There are 1,500 papers on H. heidelbergensis, which you think rates no more than a “really?” I rebut you with a “yes, really.” Check and mate.

    Each of the other species has a similar amount of research backing it up. If you want to know how we come to the conclusions we have, don’t complain that Wikipedia doesn’t include every detail of the research, but instead go and look at the published literature. It’s not exactly hard to find, you know.

    If you aren’t prepared to honestly engage with the scientific research, why are you even bothering with this series? If you can’t be bothered to learn what you’re talking about, then you’re certainly not going to convince those people who do have some inking of the subject, are you?

    I have to say, at least in your previous post, where you were cribbing from more creative creationists, the attacks were better thought out and more likely to convince than the simple “Oh yeah?” that seems to be the limit of what you can manage on your own. You should probably leave this to people who can pretend that they know what they’re talking about.

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