Hominid Hype, Take 2015 This Time It’s “Homo Naledi”
The discoverers of Homo naledi are calling it an “anatomical mosaic.” That terminology raises a red flag. In the parlance of evolutionary biology, that usually means the fossil is a unique organism that doesn’t fit easily into the standard evolutionary tree. As one technical paper concluded, “the H. naledi skeleton is a unique mosaic previously unknown in the human fossil record.”
Indeed, just four years ago, the hominin Australopithecus sediba—also discovered and promoted by Berger—was the transitional form du jure between the australopithecines and our own genus, Homo. Yet sediba is very different from naledi in some important ways, including the pelvis. If the same researchers now want to advocate Homo naledi as some new “transitional form,” they must radically revise their evolutionary story.
Both sediba and naledi have been called a “human ancestor” in recent years, but evolutionarily speaking, both claims cannot be true. As one news outlet rightly acknowledged: “Each [sediba and naledi] has different sets of australopith-like and human-like traits that can’t be easily reconciled on the same family tree.”
Another major challenge to claims for Homo naledi as a transitional form is the fact that the age of these newly reported fossils is currently completely unknown.
Luskin is one smart fella, so we are guessing that he doesn’t imagine for a minute that human paleontologists will ever be much vexed by requests to clarify the story. All narratives, however contradictory, are of equal value as long as they support the guiding agenda.
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See also: Biochemist Todd Wood on homo Naledi burials
The Little Lady of Flores spoke from the grave. But said what, exactly?
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