From J. R. Miller at More Than Cake:
Inspired by Darwin, the Dutch anatomist Eugene Dubois set sail in 1891 for Indonesia in search of the missing link between humans and apes. On the island of Java, he discovered a tooth, a femur bone, and a skull with a low forehead and enlarged brow which came to be called “Java Man.”
Dubois immediately assumed—in the tradition of many men before him—that these non-Europon features were indicative of the non-human ancestor to Homo sapiens. Based on later fossil finds this “missing link” was classified as a pre-human species Homo erectus (upright man). In the book, Contested Bones, authors Rupe and Sanford (R&S) make the case that based on the phenotypical distinctives of skull shape and brain size, paleoanthropologist Splitters like Dubois have improperly classified the bones of Homo erectus as coming from an extinct transitional form between Australopithecus and modern humans. R&S detail four problems Splitters like Dubois face if they wish to deny Homo erectus falls within the taxon of Homo sapiens.
The lack of agreement among paleo-experts on which skulls to include in the group Homo erectus illustrate the problem of classifying these fossils as a distinct species. Some experts recognize that certain specimens currently classified as Homo erectus could easily be classified as Homo sapiens if they had only been found in another location. …
#3–The Culture Bias Problem
A bias toward European cultures as superior has led many paleoanthropologists to conclude Homo erectus lacked human intelligence. However, the evidence of extensive cultural inventory demonstrates that this prejudicial assumption is wrong. …
However, the problem for evolutionary theorists gets worse because recent evidence shows that Homo erectus had a large cultural inventory greater than the Tasmanians. Homo erectus were capable of all of the following (Rupe, 72):
Boat-building and sailing
Language and reasoning
Bone and stone tools
Kinship and family structures
The evidence is clear from cultural inventory that Homo erectus was human and it is, in part, a cultural bias that prevents ND Splitters from recognizing their humanity.. More.
Discussion of this problem usually turns on: Okay, so Darwin was a racist, like almost all upper-class British men of his time. So what? Can’t you people just get over it? That was a long time ago, you know! Why not worry about racism today?
We can’t just get over it in this case because racist assumptions are embedded in the very classification of some anatomically human fossils. That makes it racism today.
Not only that but, let go long enough, this sort of thing becomes immune to fresh attacks of contrary evidence. Pop science writers repeat what paleontologists say. So no, we will keep talking about it as long as these types of implicit assumptions continue to be made, contra evidence.
See also: Was Neanderthal man fully human? The role racism played in assessing the evidence. (J. R. Miller)
6 Replies to “Do racial assumptions prevent recognizing Homo erectus as fully human?”
So it’s because of racism that Homo erectus aren’t classified with Homo sapiens?
Well, if we’re going to classify them as fully human, then we should include early Homo representatives as well, such as H. habilus, as H. habilus is barely any different than many H. erectus remains (and the two are much closer than erectus is to Homo sapiens).
Recent discoveries also suggest that early Homo, and perhaps even the more advanced Australopithecines should be grouped together. In fact, remains at Dmanisi have been discovered that seem to represent a single species – and yet have features of both australopithecines and early Homo, and had the fossils been found separately elsewhere, some would be classified as H. erectus, others as H. habilus, and others as Australopithecines.
So obviously we can’t leave the australopithecines out.
Many ID proponents believe that the Australopithecines, like Lucy, are just apes, so therefore it would make sense to classify apes as Homo sapiens… unless we’re racist.
The habilis species is complex and there is disagreement among the experts about whether some of the fossils in this group are perhaps composite constructions made up of bones and parts from different species.
According to some earlier versions of the human evolutionary tree, habilis was at one time advanced as the link between Australopithecus and man. However, this theory has been increasingly discarded of recent times. Some specialists have re-labelled it from homo.habilis to australopithecus.habilis.
“This association (of H.habilis being in the human genus and with tool making) has subsequently proven highly dubious.” – “Defining the genus Homo”, Schwartz and Tattersail, Science 28 August 2015: Vol. 349 no. 6251 pp. 931-932.
Well, it wouldn’t be a good candidate as a “link” unless it were debated as to which group it fits into.
But, yes, thanks for bringing that up. I’ve mentioned here the fact that habilis is sometimes groups with Australopithecines myself (and, conversely, sometimes afarensis is grouped with Homo).
A good argument, indeed, could be made for moving habilis in with the Australopithecines, and, yet, the Dmanisi discovery probably solidifies habilis as being Homo (and perhaps even being Homo erectus). And as I mention above, this is a big problem for those that see one group as “fully ape” and the other as “fully human”.
“Skull suggests three early human species were one”
The fossil evidence for human evolution, like the rest of the fossil record, is far more discontinuous than Darwinists falsely portray it to be.
BA77 @ 4: “The fossil evidence for human evolution, like the rest of the fossil record, is far more discontinuous than Darwinists falsely portray it to be.”
True indeed. I am happy to be alive during this time of enlightenment where people no longer fear to challenge the Darwinist cult.