new hominid

Barry Roth barry_roth at YAHOO.COM
Mon Nov 1 08:40:48 CST 2004

Yes, there is something almost sweetly touching about this scientist's
willingness -- in this day and age -- to describe the by-guess-and-by-gosh,
rather than algorithmic, process by which the taxonomic decision was made.  It
probably reflects about the same process of ratiocination by which most such
decisions have been made throughout the history of biological systematics.

I'm not sure that, like John, I am exactly envious, but I am reminded that even
those of us with a taste for hand-thrown ceramics and one-of-a-kind handcrafted
wood furniture should not apply the same aesthetic to taxonomic judgments.

Barry Roth

--- John Grehan <jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG> wrote:

> I hope there is something far more substantive in the paper itself, but
> the above paragraph seems to indicate a phylogenetic assignment on the
> basis of overall similarity ('balancing act'). The skeleton looked 'more
> like' species currently in Homo so that's where it went. If Homo is not
> monophyletic then that assignment might be problematic so it is
> important as to whether the new fossil shares synapomorphies with Homo
> as a whole if one is to sort out the phylogenetic lineage of hominids.
> There are also various skulls classified as Homo erectus that do not
> conform to the type so that derivation might be problematic also.
> I'm admit be being quite envious that one is allowed to make up new taxa
> in hominid systematics simply as a 'balancing act'. It would make my
> life a whole lot easier if I could do that with insects.
> I'll be interested to see how this all plays out.
> John Grehan

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