Monday, September 03, 2007

Paleoanthropology update Human Family Tree Now a Tangled, Messy Bush
For anthropology students 30 years ago, learning human evolution was a breeze. It went from Australopithecus to Homo habilis to Homo erectus to various Homo sapiens. It was a straight shot that one could learn in a few minutes late at night while cramming for an exam.

But in the late 1970s, we entered a golden age of human fossil discoveries that has repeatedly punched holes in the naive idea that our evolution would be that clear, clean, and straight.

Like most animals, humans have a checkered past, and our family album is now full of side branches and dead ends. And it's populated with creatures, such as the little people (Homo floresiensis) of Flores Island in Indonesia, that we could never have imagined in our wildest dreams.

Not much new there.