[Taxacom] New classification of Hominidae (incl. the "hobbit")

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Thu Apr 30 18:14:56 CDT 2009

> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Kenneth Kinman

> Dear All,
>        Well, if everyone agrees with John Grehan that my
> classifications are "pretty worthless", then maybe I should just stop.
> But I wouldn't post them if I didn't believe they would provide a useful
> new viewpoint (at least for some workers) compared to other available
> classifications. 

Recognized - I just happened to express my disagreement in fairly strong terms.

As for Sahelanthropus and Ardipithecus, simply
> referring to my primate classification (which I reposted here last week)
> shows that I place those two genera (as well as Orrorin) within Family
> Pongidae as immediate outgroups to Family Hominidae. But I guess John
> thinks that classification was "pretty worthless" as well. 

In my opinion its worthless if the phylogenetic rationale is not included. What evidence is there that suggests they are more closely related to hominids (australopiths/Homo) than anything else?

As for
> Kenyanthropus platyops, some workers think it is simply a synonym of
> Australopithecus afarensis. I include it because others think that it
> could be a valid species even closer to something like Australopithecus
> africanus or A. garhi. Either way, Kenyanthropus would make
> Australopithecus paraphyletic (and in my opinion, unnecessarily so).
> Just do a google search for Kenyanthropus, and you can easily find
> relevant literature and discussions.

But again you make a choice, and the phylogenetic basis for that choice should be included with the classification - then it would not be worthless.

>         As for the "hobbit" (floresiensis), whether it's
> assignment was originally for propaganda purposes (or not) does not mean
> an assignment to Homo is thus automatically wrong. Therefore, to label
> my provisional assignment as "nonsensical" is itself totally
> nonsensical. 

It is nonsensical if the original reason was nonsensical and there has since been no phylogenetic rationale for placing it in the genus Homo.

If John wants to express his opinion that floresiensis is
> closer to Homo habilis or some part of genus Australopithecus, he is
> welcome to do so.  But offhand, I recall no evidence that those
> earlier-evolving taxa ever left Africa, whereas Homo erectus georgicus
> is obviously in Eurasia. 

But there is no evidence that 'Homo erectus georgicus' left Africa either. 

And as I noted, early members of Homo erectus
> (sensu lato) had relatively small brains (which wouldn't have had to
> shrink much to become the size of the hobbit's brain). It makes sense to
> me, and I am not alone in thinking so. If John thinks this idea has no
> substance, then maybe he should present his own alternative placement.

Perhaps - if I get time.

>            -------Ken Kinman
> P.S. In summary, I do think the classifications I post here are
> worthwhile even if they usually don't go into detail what I based them
> on. These are not published, so they shouldn't be simply judged as
> "alchemy" just because some people are accustomed to being spoonfed all
> the details and literature. The internet makes it pretty easy to find
> relevant literature and discussions if you're really interested enough
> to take the time to explore it.

But if the elements of evidence used in a particular classification are not explicit then one is just left guessing.

John Grehan

> ----------------------------------------------
> John Grehan wrote:
> While I understand Ken's desire to make a classification of everything,
> the postings such as the one below would seem to be pretty worthless
> because they lack information on how they were arrived at. And there is
> no way of knowing what particular fossil fragments the names are
> supposed to represent (very problematic as they are sometimes
> incompatible or dissociated fragments). They are just a list of names.
> It seems to be putting the cart before the horse. Why should recognizing
> Kenyanthropus necessarily make australopiths paraphyletic? I'm not aware
> that Kenyanthropus has any demonstratable relationship other than
> possibly being a member of a human-orangutan clade and possibly a
> hominid.
> As for 'Homo' floresiensis, any such taxonomic placement would be
> nonsensical. Its original placement in Homo was for propaganda purposes
> only (as publicly admitted by one of the authors), and certainly was not
> demonstrated in the original paper, or any since. As for linking it with
> H. erectus - one can have an opinion but not one that has any substance.
> At least the list did not include Sahalanthropus or Ardipithecus -
> equally nonsensical hominids.
> John Grehan
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