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How many “types of human” “coexisted with our ancestors”?


Cutting-edge techniques, we are told, get us closer to the truth:

It’s well-established that modern humans mingled with Neanderthals and Denisovans. DNA convincingly shows the three lineages interbred in every combo: modern human/Neanderthal, modern human/Denisovan and Neanderthal/Denisovan. And if anthropologists’ interpretations are correct, we also shared the planet with Homo floresiensis, H. naledi and H. luzonensis as well as perhaps some late-surviving H. erectus. Fossils of Homo sapiens and these species overlap in time, but were geographically separated by vast distances. It’s unclear if our ancestors actually set eyes on them. Lastly, genetic patterns suggest a few more lineages in the mix (here, here), which have not yet been linked to physical fossils. For now, they’re known as ghost populations.

That brings us to seven or more types of humans since the dawn of our species, some 300,000 years ago. As a matter of convention, I refer to all Homo species as humans.

Bridget Alex, “Just How Many Extinct Types of Human Did Our Ancestors Meet?” at Discover Magazine

“As a matter of convention, I refer to all Homo species as humans.” What a great idea! We love it!

But what if these “Homo species” were never sharply differentiated groups? Cutting edge techniques might turn up many more such “species”/groups in the near future, comprising a sort of “United Nations” of deceased cultures.

What will that do to Darwinian anthropology? The Descent of Man?

See also: Was Neanderthal man fully human? The role racism played in assessing the evidence

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