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Re: 'Toumaï' - Man or Gorilla?



>>From the standpoint of someone who was trained as a physical
anthropologist,
>this is exactly the kind of healthy exchange you expect to see when this
>kind of discovery is made.  As with newly discovered dinosaurs, the
>phylogenetic relationships of a new species like this will take time to be
>understood, if they ever are.  My first reaction on looking at the
>illustrations in the Nature article was to say, "Hmmm...  Looks like a
chimp
>to me."  However, if you are indeed looking at a possible common ancestor,
>you expect to see shared morphological features.
>
Agreed, such as that illustration in the book "Apeman" or something like
that, an image is presented of an animal that is an approximate view of how
the supposed ancestral genus of both lineages looked like: very apelike in
shape with long arms, but with the possibility to walk upright for a time.
You just simply can't expect that an ancestral human looked exactly like us,
we have already plenty of material to prove this (all the various species of
Australopithecus, Homo erectus, Homo antecessor). For an humanoid it already
looked similair enough for me with the flattened face, quite the opposite in
what we see in Pan, Australopithecus garhi has an even more forwardly
projecting upper jaw and we still consider that a valid genus of early man
and not an ape.
>
>I think this is a major step forward, and whether it ends up being a pongid
>or a hominid, it will shed light on what was going on in a time period that
>was, until very recently, a foggy grey void.
>
The main problem in this discussion probably is that we just didn't expect
to find an ape/ man that was so like us so far back. Not untill recently we
have begun to see that are earliest ancestors are much older than the
earlier supposed 4,4 milion years ago. A find of an man-like ape/ ape-like
man with an age of approximately 7 milion years old is like when
Archaeopteryx was found, it pushed back bird evolution milions of years back
than earlier thought. And these finds will keep popping up and maybe we are
never sure when the split occured in our evolution when one lineage evolved
in Pan and allies and the other in us, but this recent find surely is
pushing the limits. Important is that some articulated postcranial material
must be found for Sahelanthropus before scientist can say with certainty
where this interesting new genus should be placed on our evolutionary tree.
>
Rutger Jansma