hominid classification

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Aug 9 10:06:54 CDT 2004

     Reading your questions, I think you would be happier with the classification I presented in March 2001 (on the Dinosaur Mailing List):

    If Ardipithecus is closer to Pan, then I would simply alter the traditional classification as follows:
      1   Pongo
      2   Gorilla
      3A  Ardipithecus
      3B  Pan
      4   {{Hominidae}}
      1   Orrorin
      2   Australopithecus
     _a_  Homo


      HOWEVER, a lot has happened in the past three years, and I am now a lot more skeptical about the lability of enamel thickness (as well as the evidence for bipedality in the scanty material of Orrorin).  I don't know if more material for Orrorin has come to light, but there certainly is a lot more Ardipithecus material that will be described in the next few years.  Evidence from other body areas should help clarify the potential problem of parallelism in enamel thickness (and perhaps bipedality as well).

      If Orrorin and/or Ardipithecus get thrown in with Australopithecus, so be it.  I doubt that will be necessary.   But I will NOT accept a chopping up of Australopithecus due to paraphylophobia.  And by the way, a paraphyletic Australopithecus needs no synapomorphies since it is not a clade.  (Australopithecus + Homo) is presumably a clade and DOES require synapomorphies.  The additional Ardipithecus material will allow more complete cladistic analysis and will probably answer a lot of questions.  But this would still not justify cladifying Australopithecus, EVEN in the exceedingly unlikely event that 100% complete fossils of various hominids were found.  Cladistic analysis is one thing, but translating cladograms into cladifications (not classifications) is a separate issue (namely whether paraphylophobia will continue to destabilize systematics).
       ------ Ken Kinman
P.S.  I am really trying to keep an open mind about the orangutan-human relationship, but I haven't found any molecular evidence supporting it (and I have tried) and you still have not presented any either.  Attacking the chimp-human molecular evidence won't get the job done.  You have to find some molecular support or your morphological data will just be dismissed.

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