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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Human evolution: We know little, and with good reason

A friend writes,

This weekend I watched Alien From Earth- a documentary that outlines the consternation that the 'Man of Flores' has caused amongst evolutionary anthropologists. Here is what Nature science editor Henry Gee had to say on the matter ('Evolution of the Gaps' is once again all too evident):
Despite decades of patient work we still know rather little about the evolution of humanity…the remains we have are very scarce and very meager and that means that there are probably lots of different species that existed, lived for hundreds of thousands of years and then became extinct and we know nothing about them…All you need is just one to completely blow apart your well entrenched comfortable idea of the linear progress of evolution.
Basically, it's not clear that the one-metre tall humans who occupied Indonesian island Flores for millennia lived any differently from other ancient humans, so the obsession with classifying them as a different species sounds like just that - an obsession.

See also:

Flores find a clear misfit for human evolution sequence?

The little lady of Flores files

First "hobbits" [an early name for Flores humans], now Pygmies?

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