[Taxacom] hominid evidence

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Mon Jul 6 21:38:54 CDT 2009

Richard Zander wrote: 
Question: do the known ancestors (or blind alley representatives of
ancestors) of humans have the features of chimps/gorillas, or of
orangutans? This may support the idea that chimps and gorillas are
connected by a short molecular branch, not presently resolvable.     
Hi Richard, 
       Ah, there's the rub. The term "features" can
include characters which are informative (synapomorphies as well as some
plesiomorphies) and not informative or even disinformative (such as many
convergences). When it comes to great ape phylogeny, it is particularly
difficult to tell which is which. Not only are many of the pertinent
fossils extremely incomplete, but there are other complicating factors,
such as sexual dimorphism. 
       Quite frankly it is still a big fat mess, and one
which I believe total genomes hold the best hope for leading to a
preliminary solution.  That will then lead us to a better understanding
of what "features" upon which we should concentrate.  Anyway, I just
wonder if a recent book ("The Human Lineage" by Cartmill, Smith, and
Brown, 2009) might offer some pertinent information on such
morphological data.  I haven't seen this book myself, so can only
speculate, but perhaps two of its chapters ("People as Primates" and
"The Bipedal Ape") could provide some useful information.  But like all
articles and books on great ape phylogeny, it can be difficult to
separate the wheat from the chaff.  Anyway, below is a link to some
information on the book "The Human Lineage": 


                       Ken Kinman

More information about the Taxacom mailing list