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Thread: My classification of genus Homo

  1. #11
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    Question: Is the partial skull of Homo sapiens helmei complete enough to recognize it as a formal subspecies, or is it best regarded as a synonym?

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  3. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kinman View Post
    I have been struggling with the scientific classification of genus Homo for decades, especially what should be reduced to subspecies instead of full species. I have recognized only three species for quite some time, but I wonder if there are more major subspecies that should be added to those that I recognize below. Suggestions would be welcome.
    Below is my present classification with symbols to the left showing their cladistic (or sometimes paraphyletic) relationships. The alphanumeric coding is cladistic (showing the cladistic order in which they split off). the underlined _a_ indicates that it is an exgroup from the taxon just above it, making that taxon paraphyletic (indicated by the % symbol following it).

    1 Homo habilis%

    1 H. h. rudolfensis

    2A H. h. habilis

    2B H. h. floresiensis ("hobbit")

    3 {{H. erectus + H. sapiens}} (exgroup marker)



    _a_ Homo erectus%

    1 H. e. georgicus

    2 H. e. ergaster

    3 H. e. erectus%

    _a_ {{Homo sapiens}} (exgroup marker)



    _a_ Homo sapiens

    1A H. s. antecessor

    1B H. s. cepranensis

    2 H. s. heidelbergensis%

    _a_ H. s. neanderthalensis

    3 H. s. rhodesiensis

    4 H. s. idaltu

    5 H. s. sapiens

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Ceprano skull was recently re-reconstructed and found to be in the Heidelberg variance.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14437-2

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  5. #13
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    Thank you, epoch. That paper makes a very good case with its new information. I shall therefore change cepranensis from a subspecies to a synonym of H. s. heidelbergensis.

  6. #14
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    Dear All,
    I have removed H. s. cepranensis as a subspecies, and it is now listed as a synonym of H. s. heidelbergensis. This is based on a 2017 research paper in Nature (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14437-2).
    More importantly, I have finally decided where to temporarily place Homo naledi (named in 2015). I obviously do not believe that it merits full species status, and was even a bit tempted to place it as a synonym of either Homo erectus georgicus or of Homo erectus ergaster.
    However, the 2017 discovery that it was so unexpectedly young (roughly 250,000 years old), and yet has some very primitive features (mixed with some advanced features), would make it unwise to synonymize at this time. From the original paper: "This species combines a humanlike body size and stature with an australopith-sized brain; features of the shoulder and hand apparently well-suited for climbing with humanlike hand and wrist adaptations for manipulation; australopith-like hip mechanics with humanlike terrestrial adaptations of the foot and lower limb; small dentition with primitive dental proportions."
    Therefore, I am (at least temporarily) placing naledi as a subspecies between H. e. georgicus and H. e. ergaster. Unless its primitive features display a very unusual mixture of reversals, Homo erectus naledi probably has a fairly lengthy unknown lineage that would take it back to the time of georgicus and ergaster. I suppose some might even argue that it might even belong in Homo habilis. Should be interesting to see what additional material might show, especially if such material dates to a much earlier time. It could shake things up even more than it has already.
    -------------Ken Kinman

    1 Homo habilis%

    1 H. h. rudolfensis

    2A H. h. habilis

    2B H. h. floresiensis ("hobbit")

    3 {{H. erectus + H. sapiens}} (exgroup marker)



    _a_ Homo erectus%

    1 H. e. georgicus

    ? H. e. naledi

    2 H. e. ergaster

    3 H. e. erectus%

    _a_ {{Homo sapiens}} (exgroup marker)



    _a_ Homo sapiens

    1 H. s. antecessor

    2 H. s. heidelbergensis% (incl. cepranensis)

    _a_ H. s. neanderthalensis

    3 H. s. rhodesiensis

    4 H. s. idaltu

    5 H. s. sapiens

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

  7. #15
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    Decided not to recognize helmei as a formal subspecies. Not enough material to be that useful.

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    Here is a classification of Australopithecus that I proposed some years showing Australopithecus garhi as the sister taxon of genus Homo. I don't know if I would still show the same sister group relationship today, but I will look into it soon.

    1 Australopithecus%
    1 A. anamensis
    2 A. afarensis
    ? A. platyops
    3 A. aethiopicus
    _a_ A. boisei
    B A. robustus
    4 A. africanus
    ? A. sediba
    5 A. garhi
    6 {{Homo}}

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     Jeffrey (09-02-2019)

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    What is the verdict on whether Homo Erectus had languge ?

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    Where would some ancient Homo sapiens fossils fit in that classification, including Djebel Irhoud (Morocco, 300,000 years) and Apidima 1 (Greece, 210,000 years)? I suppose the Skhul/Qafzeh specimens (Israel, 90,000 years) would be considered Homo sapiens. Then we have that some species like the Denisovans show traces of hybridization with more divergent ones (possibly Asian H. erectus).

    The thing is that groups like Neanderthals, erectus, heidelbergensis, antecessors, rhodesiensis and modern humans are considered to be separate species because their morphology differs a lot (especially in the skull and face), but is that enough considering they could have fertile offspring?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milkyway View Post
    Where would some ancient Homo sapiens fossils fit in that classification, including Djebel Irhoud (Morocco, 300,000 years) and Apidima 1 (Greece, 210,000 years)? I suppose the Skhul/Qafzeh specimens (Israel, 90,000 years) would be considered Homo sapiens. Then we have that some species like the Denisovans show traces of hybridization with more divergent ones (possibly Asian H. erectus).

    The thing is that groups like Neanderthals, erectus, heidelbergensis, antecessors, rhodesiensis and modern humans are considered to be separate species because their morphology differs a lot (especially in the skull and face), but is that enough considering they could have fertile offspring?
    I am not sure that the possibility of fertile offspring is enough to classify as within a species. Bison and cattle can breed and produce fertile offspring https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beefalo but are in different genera. Wolves, coyotes, and red wolves can all interbreed and do when population bottlenecks occur. I imagine the same happened when H sapiens and H denisova or H neanderthalis interbred. It was likely “either interbreed or don’t breed at all” in many of those situations or possibly non-consensual.

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  15. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by RP48 View Post
    I am not sure that the possibility of fertile offspring is enough to classify as within a species. Bison and cattle can breed and produce fertile offspring https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beefalo but are in different genera. Wolves, coyotes, and red wolves can all interbreed and do when population bottlenecks occur. I imagine the same happened when H sapiens and H denisova or H neanderthalis interbred. It was likely “either interbreed or don’t breed at all” in many of those situations or possibly non-consensual.
    You're right, there are different criteria to define what's a species. That's also the case of dogs and wolves (they can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, but they're often classified as different species because they differ a lot in their habitat and lifestyle). In the case of neanderthals/denisovans/modern humans we can only speculate, although they were all hunter-gatherers, so from a cultural point of view the differences were likely smaller than those between any modern hunter-gatherer tribe and somebody from an urban area.

    There's also the possibility that neanderthals/denisovans couldn't talk like us, so maybe that was a strong barrier. However, we have examples of contact between different cultures where male colonizers raped the native women, and they likely couldn't understand each other (the case of European men vs. Native American and Aboriginal Australian women).

    I think that there isn't enough information to answer the question of whether these three hominids were different species or not. However, I've found examples comparing neanderthals and modern humans to donkeys and horses, or lions and tigers, when we know that the latter have been separated for several millions of years (and their generation time is much shorter than that of humans).

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