Further to the recent Homo naledi find in South Africa, just some stuff to think about:
Some people wrote to ask, why Berger and his colleagues published their Homo
neledi findings in an open access journal (eLIFE) rather than a staider one like Nature or Science. Well, we are not mind readers, so … one problem noted might be undated fossils.
Anyway, their story is getting air via National Geographic (“Artist Gurche spent some 700 hours reconstructing the head from bone scans, using bear fur for hair”). And the concern is no surprise as Lee Berger is an NG explorer in residence. And he is no stranger to controversy with colleagues:
Paleoanthropologists often take years, sometimes decades, to publish their work. Ron Clarke has famously spent the last 18 years excavating and describing a fossil known as Little Foot, which was found in the same area of South Africa as A. sediba and H. naledi.
In contrast, it took Berger just three years to excavate the A. sediba bones and publish 13 papers in the journal Science. For many of Berger’s peers like Carol Ward, director of anatomical sciences at the University of Missouri, that breakneck pace resulted in sloppy work. “I’m working on a fossil from Kenya, and I wanted to compare it to sediba,” she says. “In one set of papers, they have one set of measurements, and in another set of papers it might be different.” Ward adds. “There were inconsistencies. It was hastily done, and I think the quality suffered.” More.
Again, we dunno.
But we should note these things when we hear the blonde bimbo on Airhead-TV spouting about how it “changes everything we know” about human evolution. Until next week’s news lineup.
See also: Human ancestor claims driven by politics? This stuff recalls Dmanisi, which of course got silted over. That’s the thing; it always gets silted over. The whole field would otherwise largely collapse.
Why we should hire fewer bimbos to address this stuff.
Meanwhile, some more good links here.
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