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Thread: Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray

  1. #1 Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray 
    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray

    "The spectacular fossilised skull of an ancient human ancestor that died nearly two million years ago in central Asia has forced scientists to rethink the story of early human evolution.

    Anthropologists unearthed the skull at a site in Dmanisi, a small town in southern Georgia, where other remains of human ancestors, simple stone tools and long-extinct animals have been dated to 1.8m years old.

    Experts believe the skull is one of the most important fossil finds to date, but it has proved as controversial as it is stunning. Analysis of the skull and other remains at Dmanisi suggests that scientists have been too ready to name separate species of human ancestors in Africa. Many of those species may now have to be wiped from the textbooks.

    The latest fossil is the only intact skull ever found of a human ancestor that lived in the early Pleistocene, when our predecessors first walked out of Africa. The skull adds to a haul of bones recovered from Dmanisi that belong to five individuals, most likely an elderly male, two other adult males, a young female and a juvenile of unknown sex."



    The article suggests that what has been taken as different species of ancient human, might simply all be variations on one, Homo Erectus. Basically, they found a few skulls in a collapsed den in Georgia that are all more or less contemporaneous with each other, but show a lot of variation between them, so much so that it calls into question the classification of things like "H rudolfensis, H gautengensis, H ergaster and possibly H habilis."


    Very interesting indeed.


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  3. #2  
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    Oh goody.

    400 PhD theses, a couple of dozen books. Coming up any time now.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    How can the skulls all be different if they all were in the same place and died at the same time?

    Could it be that there were "guests" when the collapse happened?
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    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    The article suggests that what has been taken as different species of ancient human, might simply all be variations on one, Homo Erectus. Basically, they found a few skulls in a collapsed den in Georgia that are all more or less contemporaneous with each other, but show a lot of variation between them, so much so that it calls into question the classification of things like "H rudolfensis, H gautengensis, H ergaster and possibly H habilis."

    Whatever the findings may imply,
    I predict that at least one creationist is going to use this article to prove that human evolution is a lie.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    Thanks Kalster:

    knowledge seems to move like a worm compressing and expanding, or like companies that merge, then spin off branches, then merge anew
    Leakey knew that his early finds were most likely nothing new, but gave them a new name and got funding to continue the digs

    maybe
    it's just consolidation time

    ......................
    personally, I've often wondered why heidelbergensis has remained undivided into different species
    a million years seems a long time to remain one species
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    How can the skulls all be different if they all were in the same place and died at the same time?

    Could it be that there were "guests" when the collapse happened?
    They think the bodies were dragged into the den to be eaten by a cat and eventually it collapsed. They probably didn't die together, but not more than a few hundred years apart, they say.

    The differences they say is part of natural variation, like the different "races" living today. An Asian skull is quite different from, say, an African or Aborigine skull. There is also quite a variation in the volume of the brain cavity among humans, even within the same "race" and it is not necessarily an indicator of intelligence either. They contend that the variation among Homo Erectus and some other early members of Homo can be adequately explained as a variation within Homo Erectus only.



    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum
    Whatever the findings may imply,
    I predict that at least one creationist is going to use this article to prove that human evolution is a lie.
    No doubt.
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    I find it weird... how big is this chance those different people ended in same hole with couple 100 years in between brought by a cat... it sounds to me more like an movieset...
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackscorp View Post
    I find it weird... how big is this chance those different people ended in same hole with couple 100 years in between brought by a cat... it sounds to me more like an movieset...
    I'd say pretty big. The den was probably a semi-permanent feature during that time, so if you have both big cats and Homo running around there over an extended period of time....
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by blackscorp View Post
    I find it weird... how big is this chance those different people ended in same hole with couple 100 years in between brought by a cat... it sounds to me more like an movieset...
    I'd say pretty big. The den was probably a semi-permanent feature during that time, so if you have both big cats and Homo running around there over an extended period of time....
    then there must be many of such... caves/holes... im not realy into this but I didn't heard of other such holes...
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    i still go with Chris Stringer's take on things : Chris Stringer: Skull 5 team proposes a radical rethink, but there are doubts to be overcome

    some of the african fossils may be part of a high-variability H.erectus, but to state that all fossils from that period fall in that category we need more evidence - we need a few more complete H.habilis fossils, preferably something like the first family
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    i still go with Chris Stringer's take on things : Chris Stringer: Skull 5 team proposes a radical rethink, but there are doubts to be overcome

    some of the african fossils may be part of a high-variability H.erectus, but to state that all fossils from that period fall in that category we need more evidence - we need a few more complete H.habilis fossils, preferably something like the first family
    Yep, definitely not definite.

    Lee Berger, who discovered A Sediba, certainly doesn't think so. Even scientists can get overzealous.
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    As an interesting side note on this, several years ago I was part of a group of University of Washington paleontology students that held a lunch with a group of students from the Paleoanthropology dept. One of hte questions that was brought up to the paleoanth students was why no morphometric/large group studies had been performed on homonid fossils as is very common on paleontology. The reply was that it wasnt a common practice in anthropology and so they generally didn't use it.
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    that's one of the things that gets me with paleoanthropology : you find a group of skeletal remains in more or less the same place and time, and rather than taking the default position that this is more likely to be individuals belonging to a single population, very often you see particular specimens being split off as a separate species for the sole reason of being a bit of an outlier

    it doesn't happen too often (if at all) that social primates live in multi-species groupings (vervets maybe ?)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    The article suggests that what has been taken as different species of ancient human, might simply all be variations on one, Homo Erectus. Basically, they found a few skulls in a collapsed den in Georgia that are all more or less contemporaneous with each other, but show a lot of variation between them, so much so that it calls into question the classification of things like "H rudolfensis, H gautengensis, H ergaster and possibly H habilis."

    Whatever the findings may imply,
    I predict that at least one creationist is going to use this article to prove that human evolution is a lie.
    Have already seen it on my Facebook...

    I'll also add they conveniently ignored the fact that the article they used to "disprove" evolution still had the skull listed as 2 million years old, lol.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackscorp View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by blackscorp View Post
    I find it weird... how big is this chance those different people ended in same hole with couple 100 years in between brought by a cat... it sounds to me more like an movieset...
    I'd say pretty big. The den was probably a semi-permanent feature during that time, so if you have both big cats and Homo running around there over an extended period of time....
    then there must be many of such... caves/holes... im not realy into this but I didn't heard of other such holes...
    I think with palaeontology one always has to keep firmly in mind that we only find a tiny, tiny proportion of the material that was laid down at the time. It seems to me remarkable that we find the number of specimens that we do, given the weathering and movement of the Earth's crust that takes place over the timescales involved. Maybe, now that one such case has found, palaeontologists will find a way to make more directed searches in future, to find more of them. But maybe not.
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    It seems to me remarkable that we find the number of specimens that we do, given the weathering and movement of the Earth's crust that takes place over the timescales involved. Maybe, now that one such case has found, palaeontologists will find a way to make more directed searches in future, to find more of them. But maybe not.
    Me too. I look at all the stuff in the Ediacaran hills and I wonder. What about all those similar, or completely different, fossils a few hundred/ thousand kms away. They have probably finished up sliding under a modern sea rather than rising up from the ancient seabed and eventually slipped into a subduction zone. At which point they're lost forever, melted and mixed in with all those other rocks.
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    but wasn't homo habilis very small, compared to homo erectus at the least?

    I would remain sceptical, but I think our understanding of human evolution won't shift much until we determine how we became behaviourally modern, how the Neanderthals became extinct and did they or earlier homo genus species have language, what was the split species between our line and the chimpanzees' line, and did art and culture as we know it predate homo sapiens. Kind of like how predicting earthquakes is to geology, this IMO are the holy grails of paleoanthropology.

    Though if some scientists in Antarctica find a homo erectus skeleton there, that would really shit things up hehe..
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