Surprised? (Maybe you need the public guardian for your affairs if you are.)
Here’s the abstract of the article you must pay for:
Almost 300 years ago, Linnaeus defined our genus Homo (and its species Homo sapiens) with the noncommittal words nosce te ipsum (know thyself) (1). Since then, fossil and molecular biology studies have provided insights into its evolution, yet the boundaries of both the species and the genus remain as fuzzy as ever, new fossils having been rather haphazardly assigned to species of Homo, with minimal attention to details of morphology.
Here’s the lowdown for free:
The limits of our genus Homo have long been controversial. One problem is that evolutionary biologists sometimes try to shoehorn un-human-like fossils into Homo in order to make it appear that ape-like and human-like creatures are kin. It’s a classic case of scientists letting their evolutionary bias direct taxonomy.
What’s less common is to see evolutionary paleoanthropologists admitting this has happened. Now in a recent article in Science, “Defining the genus Homo,” Jeffrey H. Schwartz and Ian Tattersall explain that Homo habilis (literally, “handy man”) was originally placed within Homo because researchers wanted an old species that apparently made tools: …
Elsewhere Tattersall has critiqued the entire species Homo habilis by calling it “a wastebasket taxon, little more than a convenient recipient for a motley assortment of hominin fossils.” He has called it “a rather heterogeneous assemblage, and it is probable that more than one hominid species is represented.” Paleoanthropologists Daniel E. Lieberman, David R. Pilbeam, and Richard W. Wrangham likewise co-write that “fossils attributed to H. habilis are poorly associated with inadequate and fragmentary postcrania.” In an article titled “Who Was Homo habilis — and Was It Really Homo?” in Science, Ann Gibbons notes that “researchers labeled a number of diverse, fragmentary fossils from East Africa and South Africa ‘H. habilis,’ making the taxon a ‘grab bag… a Homo waste bin,’ says paleoanthropologist Chris Ruff of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.” More.
Why? Because … Darwin!
Now, peasants shuddup. Okay?
Jeffrey H. Schwartz? Name rings a bell: He was speaking honestly as far back as 2006, and has apparently survived. For now.
This stuff recalls Dmanisi, which of course got silted over. That’s the thing; it always gets silted over.
It must be silted over because the whole field would otherwise largely collapse. And then what would pop science and Darwin lobby textbook writers do?
See also: Why it all has to be this big a mess
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