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Re: Club Homo

    Hehehe, this should be a simple question, but delve into matters of
hominid taxonomy and you'll be needing a couple of Nurofen before you know
it. There are *that* many names out there.... See
psida/Eutheria/Primates/Hominoidea/Hominidae.htm and the links from that to
get an idea of what I mean, and believe me, Mikko doesn't have *half* of the
available names.
    The Nature 'news and views' article has a pretty good tree
full/4311043a_fs.html if you can get to it), showing the more likely species
and how long they lived for, but not all of them are definite.
    It helps to divide the genus _Homo_ into three grades, which are at
least easily recognisable. These are the _habilis_ grade, the _erectus_
grade, and the _sapiens_ grade. These grades may or may not be equivalent to
the matching species (probably not).
    Habilis grade (which I suspect may be earlier than you were asking about
anyway, sorry) is pretty poorly known, and only a couple of species have
been named from it as far as I know, _Homo habilis_ and _H. rudolfensis_.
According to whom you ask, these are early _Homo_, late _Australopithecus_,
exactly-average-time _Kenyanthropus_, the same species as each other, the
same species as different species, sexual dimorphs, tool users, not tool
users - to paraphrase a saying about Jewish law, there's more theories about
this grade than there are people to write the theories. _Australopithecus
garhi_ and _Kenyanthropus platyops_ may also fall into this grade, or they
may not.
    Erectus grade is better known, and actually was around for a heck of a
lot longer than the _sapiens_ grade so far (even discounting their later,
relictual survival on Flores). This grade contains, at least, _Homo
ergaster_, _H. erectus_, _H. cepranensis_ and now _H. floresiensis_. _Homo
georgicus_ may be intermediate between the _habilis_ and _erectus_ grades.
_Homo cepranensis_ is a recently described species from Europe - personally,
I expect that'll it'll get sunk under _H. ergaster_, as there's not a lot of
difference. There's also about fifty other names that have been applied to
specimens in the past, as it used to be that every new specimen got a name,
and to be honest, that hasn't changed much.
    Whether or not _Homo erectus_ and _Homo ergaster_ are separate species
is tricky. There don't seem to be any proper universal characters that
separate the two, and I think that this is more a matter of different
species concepts (biological vs. phylogenetic) than different species. The
_erectus_ grade arose in Africa, spread across southern Asia and into the
very southern edge of Europe, before the _sapiens_ grade arose from within
it in Africa to spread out again and probably replace it elsewhere. So, if
the two are regarded as separate species, _Homo ergaster_ represents the
African stem population that _H. erectus_ and the _sapiens_ grade are
derived from, while _H. erectus_ represents the Asian population that
descended from the African and went extinct without descendants (except the
remnant _H. floresiensis_). In the same way, _Homo cepranensis_ would
probably represent the European derivative population.
    Finally, the _sapiens_ grade. This includes _Homo heidelbergensis_, _H.
neanderthalensis_ and _H. sapiens_. _Homo antecessor_ may be an early member
of this grade. There's even more names running around for this one than
there are for the _erectus_ grade. _Homo heidelbergensis_ is a particularly
bad name, seeming to be something of a catch-all these days for the
'neanderthaloid' grade of humans that gave rise to the later two species.
The Nature article referenced before lists _Homo helmei_ as the ancestor of
_Homo sapiens_ - this is not a commonly used species, often lumped in with
_heidelbergensis_. There's also _Homo sapiens idaltu_, an early form of our
own species.
    So that's a brief and inadequate introduction to _Homo_ taxonomy, and
sorry such a simple question required such a complicated answer. Don't blame
me - blame the Leakeys and von Koenigswald.


        Christopher Taylor

On 28/10/04 7:57 pm, "Daniel Bensen" <dbensen@bowdoin.edu> wrote:

> So, what Hominids could conceivably have lived with and around H.
> sapiens?  
> By my count, we have (not necessarily at the same time)
> H. neanderthalis
> H. hidelbergensis...maybe?
> H. erectus (of how many types...there seem to be quite a lot)
> H. floresiensis
> H. sapiens
> Are there any I missed or should have included?
> (the time I'm looking it is about...what...20,000 years ago?  )
> Thanks
> Dan