Thursday, February 24, 2011

Biological Anthropologists Raise Red Flag on Early Human Origins Claim

Anthropologists are calling for more analysis before concluding animal remains dating back 7 million years are actually human remains. This report is very important because it addresses the scientific need for parsimony in explaining theory. Early human and primates share similar homoplasy or morphology and can therefore be difficult to definitively claim the fossils are or are not human. Claiming the fossils are human is extremely tempting, because there are very few fossils dating back this far that are human, making any finding very sexy and important to the career of the individual responsible for the finding.

"We are not saying that these fossils are definitively not early human ancestors," said co-author Terry Harrison, a professor in NYU's Department of Anthropology and director of its Center for the Study of human origins. "But their status has been presumed rather than adequately demonstrated, and there are a number of alternative interpretations that are possible. We believe that it is just as likely or more likely that they are fossil apes situated close to the ancestry of the living great ape and humans."

Read more about it here.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, but I'm not sure I understand the clear difference between humans and our primate ancestors as far as fossils. If early, primitive humans were extremely similar to non-human primates, what exactly can distinguish them, if anything, physically from one another?

    I know the article mentioned the canine teeth and a skeleton adapted to walking on two legs, but wouldn't these things have evolved extremely slowly over long spans of time? Basically what I'm asking is where, if anywhere, can you draw a distinct line between human and non-human primates just by the physical evidence we have to examine?