Cover image for Extinct humans
Extinct humans
Tattersall, Ian.
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First edition.
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
256 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 27 cm
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"A Peter N. Nevraumont book."
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GN281.4 .T39 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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From the earliest days of their science, paleoanthropologists have shown a propensity to envision the human "family tree" as a straight-line progression from the apelike australopithecines to the enigmatic Homo habilis to the perhaps misapprehended Homo erectus to the famous (or infamous) Neanderthals, culminating in us, Homo sapiens . The problem is that this model is unlike the evolutionary pattern of any other known vertebrate (or any organism, for that matter) which reveals multiple branching and extinctions.Since mid-century it has been evident that in South Africa two species of australopithecines existed at the same time, one of which - a specialized vegetarian - went extinct, leaving no successors. Then fossils were unearthed that demonstrated early members of our genus ( Homo ) existed side by side with australopithecines, complicating the picture still further. Now it is becoming increasingly clear that the Neanderthals were not a direct ancestor to modern humans but were in fact a side branch whose extirpation was at least partially at the hands of our modern human ancestors who invaded Europe 40,000 years ago. And very recent re-dating of several Javanese Homo erectus fossils has cast doubt on the notion that this widespread population was our direct ancestor.In Extinct Humans , Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey Schwartz present convincing evidence that over fifteen different species of humans have existed over the six million-year sojourn of the hominid family, and that many of these species have existed simultaneously. Furthermore, a large number of these were members of our own genus. Who were these different human species? What did they look like? When and where did they evolve? Which are direct ancestors to us and which went extinct, leaving no successors? And, the most profound question of all, why is there only a single human species alive on Earth now? Tattersall and Schwartz explore these questions and many more in Extinct Humans .

Author Notes

Ian Tattersall is Curator, Division of Anthropology, at the American Museum of Natural History.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Stone tools and fossilized jawbones meet complex, reticulated theories from the history of anthropology and evolution in this attractively produced introduction to the vexed world of early hominids. Tattersall and Schwartz (who took many of the book's b&w photos) describe their popularly intended work as the by-product of a continuing paleontological goal: the authors want to describe "the huge variety of human fossils according to a single consistent protocol." The first chapter covers the history of speculation about human origins, from Aristotle's to Goethe's concepts to discovery of the 1856 Feldhofer Grotto Neanderthal fossil, to today's debates about the branching trees of Homo and Australopithecus. Then we're off to the fossils themselves and to the vigorous debates about themÄdebates until recently carried on with too little data and too little reference to norms of nonanthropoid paleontology. Was Robert Broom's Kromdraai hominid (1938) a new genus of proto-humans, Paranthropus? His reasons for saying so wouldn't have held water had he been classifying, say, sea urchins. Skull contours, pelvis shapes, tooth types, climate change and fossil footprints enter into the debates Tattersall (The Fossil Trail; The Last Neanderthal) and Schwartz (Skeleton Keys; Sudden Origins) record. Previous paleoanthropologists, the authors explain, tried too hard to imagine a single line culminating in Homo sapiens. Hominid history ought to look less like a queue than like a treeÄlater chapters explore that tree and its fruits. The authors clearly describe recent discoveries in China; map hypothesized early-human migrations; cover the decline of the Neanderthals; and consider Western Europe's trove of cave paintings and bone flutesÄevidence of practices that characterize, not Neanderthals, but just us. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Paleoanthropologists Tattersall and Schwartz offer a provocative if exasperating survey of the fossil evidence for human evolution, based on direct study of a great proportion of the original material, a task that few paleoanthropologists can claim to have undertaken. Tattersall (American Museum of Natural History) and Schwartz (physical anthropology, Univ. of Pittsburgh) argue that there are far more species, or truly different kinds, of extinct human known to science than have been named or recognized by most of their colleagues. They support this argument through brief references to distinctive characters of anatomical structure that are to be elucidated more fully in a larger work in progress. Few would accept all of their views, but they are capable and experienced researchers: the jury will be out for a long time. Yet that jury includes relatively few scholars, and this is a beautifully illustrated, semipopular book, so what is its intended audience? That question is not directly answered in the brief preface nor in the rather informally written text, which seems to aim at a popular readership. This could be a mid-level work, a good read for the dedicated layperson, or a point of reference for the professional, and it is recommended for all of those readers. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. E. Delson; CUNY Herbert H. Lehman College

Booklist Review

Two leading paleoanthropologists probe anew the fossil discoveries and the theories about human origins. Their specialty is engaged in debate. One faction holds that East Africa is the birthplace of humanity. Another, however, inclines to place human origins in South Africa, and its Young Turk is Berger, an American transplanted to the University of Witwatersrand. An enthusiastic and creative guide to his theory, Berger introduces the hominid fossils found in South African caves. These have been less celebrated than those found in the Great Rift Valley, largely because of South Africa's pariah status during the apartheid decades. Consciously challenging his field's orthodoxy and relishing his confrontations with its pooh-bahs, such as Tim White, Berger discusses the anatomy and dating of many of the South African hominid fossils, and he delivers exciting accounts of his personal forays into the field, one of which brought to light human footprints about 120,000 years old. Whether they are Eve's or not, the prints will influence future paleoanthropological debate. Berger's exciting book is to be heavily promoted and should nab all fossil-philes' interest. For clarity, Tattersall has few peers in popular paleoanthropological writing. In collaboration with Schwartz, he solidifies that reputation by explaining why the idea of the one-track, lineal descent of human beings is obsolete and the notion of a "bushy" evolutionary history, like that of other genera, fits the fossil evidence better. Tattersall and Schwartz accent the evidence, and drawings and photographs of critical craniums abound, along with close explanation of anatomical details that distinguish the several recognized hominid groups--Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and our own Homofrom one another. Further distinguishing Homo species are tools, which Tattersall discusses as indicators of the mental life of modern humans' extinct kin. Or were those ancient cousins regarded as enemies and hunted to extinction, as one theory about the Neanderthals runs? Such questions animate this superior overview, a profitable addition to any library. --Gilbert Taylor

Library Journal Review

Tattersall (Becoming Human) and Schwartz (Sudden Origins) have written a clear and detailed overview of fossil hominid evidence and its various interpretations. One consequence of the Great Chain of Being mindset (intensified by the Mayr/Dobzhansky/Simpson new-Darwinian synthesis in terms of mutations and natural selection within dynamic populations) has been the application of a straight-line model to our evolving ancestors over the last few million years. Rejecting this single-linear-sequence hypothesis of hominid evolution, theses two scientists emphasize the very complex species diversity throughout the history of our now-vanished remote ancestors. They focused on the major discoveries and new dates in paleoanthropology, especially fossil evidence representing different African australopiths. Other chapters analyze the morphologies of Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and especially, the Neanderthals and discuss individual variations, interspecies competition, and species extinction. The authors succeed in making their topics both interesting and relevant. With its outstanding illustrations and levelheaded treatment of empirical data, this impressive and indispensable book is a very contribution to modern paleoanthropology. Highly recommended for all science collections. -- H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One [ The Path to Human Evolution ] Almost every week or two, so it seems, there's a piece in the news about a new discovery of a fossil human relative, such as the species Australopithecus garhi from Ethiopia that is currently being touted as the ultimate ancestor of the modern human lineage. Or a new piece of information on an already known human fossil, such as our discovery of previously undescribed features within the nasal cavity of Neanderthals, or the extracting and analyzing of DNA from the fossil bones of the first described Neanderthal skeleton. Perhaps the oddest recent pronouncement was the attribution of the distinctive cranial and skeletal anatomies of Neanderthals to maladies of the thyroid gland producing cretinism. Who knows what stories tomorrow's popular media will bring?     Although we take being bombarded with this kind of information for granted--almost as if we expect it along with our morning coffee--the path followed by human evolutionary scholarship over the past century and more has not been a smooth one. Indeed, it has been fraught with problems from the very beginning--problems that persist as the field doggedly pursues the fleshing-out of our evolutionary past. The influence of the dead hand of tradition can perhaps be seen most dramatically in that many contemporary specialists in human evolution continue--whether they realize it or not--to be influenced by the work of earlier scholars who were not themselves evolutionists. To understand where we are today involves knowing where we were yesterday, so let's begin by looking at the development of ideas about humanity's place in nature. In the Beginning We find the first recorded musings about how the natural world works and how humans might fit into it in the writings of Greek and early Roman scholars. Common to many of these intellectuals was an interest in how the environment might affect how people look and behave. In this pursuit Herodotus (484-425 BC), who is best remembered as the first historian, made comparisons between the skulls of Persian and Egyptian soldiers killed in battle. He was impressed by how easily, so it seemed, the head of a Persian could be cracked in contrast to an Egyptian's. Perhaps, he speculated, this was because Persians were in the habit of wearing felt hats, which made the bone of their skulls thin and brittle. In contrast, Egyptian males had shaved heads throughout their lives. Could it be that their thicker cranial bones derived somehow from the constant exposure of their heads to the sun?     Hippocrates (b. c . 460BC), the acknowledged father of medicine, and Aristotle, that all-around naturalist and philosopher, also subscribed to an environmental explanation for the existence of differences among individuals living in different places and climates. Hippocrates thought that it was a damp and cold climate that made the Scythians of Asia Minor the "ruddy race" he portrayed in his writings. Aristotle (b. 384BC) picked up on this environmental theme and threw in another feature of the Scythians (and, while he was at it, of the neighboring Thracians, as well)--their straight hair--as being caused by the inhospitable climate in which they lived. In contrast to these groups, Aristotle's "Aethiopians" (from the Greek Ethiop , meaning "burned face") had woolly hair and dark, sun-burnt skin.     But Aristotle went further than merely speculating on why humans from different parts of the known world looked or acted differently from one another. As the first comparative anatomist on record, he was interested in trying to find out how the world and life on it fit together. In pursuit of answers to this conundrum, Aristotle came up with a scheme of grouping organisms that not only triumphed in his day but that dominated biological thought for almost two millennia.     As Aristotle saw it, life emerged from the inanimate. From this beginning, he conceived of a hierarchy of life (which has become better known in the Latin of medieval scholars as the Scala Naturae ) that was planted at one end in an inorganic source, such as the sludge on the floor of a swamp, from which it ascended to its other end. Humans sat on the upper rungs of this Scala Naturae . Plants and non-human animal life forms were distributed among the other rungs of this ladder in a hierarchy of increasing complexity that linked the lowly inorganic with humans, the most perfected forms of life on Earth. Aristotle thought that some organisms just popped out of thin air (by spontaneous generation, as this notion would later be called), whereas others emerged from mud or fecal matter. Humans and those animals we call mammals and birds, however, either started out in life as larvae, or developed from eggs.     Although science would have to wait nearly two thousand years until the Swedish botanist Linnaeus (Carl von Linné) (1707-1778) would create the taxonomic group that we refer to as Mammalia (he called them Quadrupedia), Aristotle had succeeded in sorting out many of the fundamental features of this aggregate of animals. Starting at the broadest level, Aristotle identified those animals we call mammals as four-legged animals that both had true blood coursing through their veins and gave birth to live young. Now, he could have included birds in this group, because, as he rightfully acknowledged, birds are technically quadrupedal or four-footed animals. As he would have put it, just like mammals, birds locomote via four "points." And, again like mammals, birds are true blooded. But birds do not give birth to live young. To Aristotle, that meant that birds belong to one group, and mammals to another, within the larger group to which birds and mammals both belong.     In Aristotle's eyes, humans are like mammals and birds in having true blood coursing through their veins. Additionally, humans are similar to mammals because they give birth to live young. Superficially, humans are also like birds in walking only on two legs. In contrast to birds, however, in which the forelimbs are in the form of wings and are the individual's primary means of getting about, the arms and hands of a human are freed of this locomotory obligation. Aristotle thought that humans also differ from birds, and from all mammals for that matter, in the direction in which their knee joint flexes. He mistakenly believed that this joint bends backward in birds and mammals and forward in humans. On the basis of this seemingly profound difference, Aristotle singled out humans from other animals and proclaimed that their bipedalism reflected divinity both in their nature and in their essence. Aristotle's anatomical misconception stayed on the books until the fifteenth century, when Leonardo da Vinci finally pointed out that the joint that Aristotle had mistaken for the knee in birds and non-human mammals was really their ankle joint. That is why the joint Aristotle took to be the knee of a bird bends backward. The real knee of a bird, which, like a humans, bends forward, is hidden under the feathers up against the body. To make his point, Leonardo pictured a human standing on tiptoe. In this pose, the ankle is up and points back, just like Aristotle's birds' "knees."     Thanks to Aristotle--the orientation of the knee joint notwithstanding--bipedalism early on took center stage among the most diagnostic criteria used by comparative anatomists, and later by paleoanthropologists, to distinguish humans from other living animals. To this character Aristotle added the ability to think and reason. As attributes of the large human brain, these features put this organ also at or near the top of the list of features separating humans from the rest of the animal world. Furthermore, these two attributes--bipedalism and braininess--were assumed to be correlated. According to Aristotle, no animal could be bipedal if its body was top-heavy; with a large and heavy trunk and forelimbs, an animal just could not stand. And, he believed, weight just plain interferes with intellect and common sense. Centuries later, philosophers such as Rousseau and Lord Monboddo would wrestle with the question of whether any other animals, particularly among the apes, had the human capacities of intellect and reason. And centuries later again, with the discovery of human fossils, the debate over which feature evolved first--bipedalism or the enlarged, thinking brain--would witness vicious intellectual battles.     Indeed, the early twentieth-century Piltdown forgery, which put together a modern human skull with an apelike jaw, was evidently concocted as a direct counter to the Homo erectus fossils found in Java at the end of the nineteenth century that consisted of a modern human-looking femur and a "pithecoid" skull cap. The Javanese specimens seemed to suggest that bipedalism evolved first, whereas the fraud--despite the absence of the rest of the skeleton--was taken as demonstrating the possession of a large brain prior to the conversion of the rest of the body from ape to human. We'll never really know the reasons for the Piltdown forgery, as we'll never really know who fabricated it. But a reasonable speculation is that it would have ensured England's place as yielding the world's oldest fossil human. And, because its skull looked more human than "Java Man," and because it had housed a large brain, "Piltdown Man" could more readily be embraced as a possible human ancestor. Add to this the prevailing bias that the West was civilized and the rest of the world was not, and it is not difficult to understand how the large-brained Piltdown Man could be an easy sell.     As you might well expect, scholarly interest in the emergence of "civilized" humans has had a long and also checkered history. For instance, the Greeks and early Romans wrestled with questions about the origin of their particular state of civilization. One scenario held that the history of civilization paralleled the life cycle of an individual. The best and healthiest days are in one's youth, after which one declines into old age and then death. Likewise, the heyday of healthy and vigorous human civilization had occurred in the good old days of yesteryear. Since then, everything had gone to pot, with civilization degenerating and falling into moral decay and decrepitude. Pompeii, where streets were lined with brothels, and Rome, with couples fornicating on the steps of the Senate, come to mind as examples. The alternative view of the history of human civilization was much more optimistic. It held that in the beginning, everyday life had been more primitive and simpler than today's. Over a long period of time, humans developed technology. As technology improved, so, too, did the human condition, which eventually resulted in the high level of civilization enjoyed by the Greeks and Romans. True or not, the image of Rome's place at the top of the world's greatest cities did much to inspire the Caesars' legions as they conquered most of the Mediterranean world and lands beyond the Mediterranean. The overall theme of this view of civilization was that there was a continuum of progress from primitive to advanced humans.     Of these two themes, the general idea of degeneration would be co-opted and reconfigured into their depiction of the origin of human races by eighteenth-century naturalists such as the Comte de Buffon and by the father of physical anthropology (and also, we suggest, paleoanthropology), Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. These scholars claimed that the longest continuous record of "high" civilization was to be found in Asia, and concluded that Asia was where humans must have originated. From there, humans migrated west, to the Caucasus Mountains. The Caucasians (that is, those immigrants who stayed in the region of the Caucasus) and those others who migrated into Africa became the "white" and "black" races, respectively, through a process of degeneration from the original stock. It is interesting that, in their speculations on the demise of the Neanderthals, archeologists and physical anthropologists of the twentieth century have kept alive the notion of an invasion from the East of an overpowering, more sophisticated "race" of humans.     But it would be the theme of progress that would later pervade evolutionary thought. On a grand level, the acceptance of the reality of evolution at first had little impact on perceptions of how life was arranged. The comparative anatomists and taxonomists of the Dark Ages had kept alive Aristotle's Scala Naturae by infusing it with a Christian creation motif. This produced a taxonomic hierarchy of life's forms with humans being the closest to the image of a divine creator. This arrangement of life from the supposedly lowest to highest became known as the Great Chain of Being. When evolutionary ideas were eventually infused into paleontology, the Great Chain of Being was itself transformed into an evolutionary succession of life, from the simplest to the most complex. Among vertebrates, for example, the evolutionary succession was supposed to be from fish to amphibians, to reptiles, and thence to mammals.     On a more individual level, it is noteworthy that Charles Darwin devoted the first volume of The Descent of Man entirely to a discussion of how progression had played out in human evolution. Incorporating countless comments on how primitive humans differed physically and intellectually from those more civilized, Darwin spent chapter after chapter in this work detailing how one could follow the transformation of humans from something apelike in body and mind, through the "savages" and "barbaric" humans, to the most sophisticated of the "races," the Europeans. It is not surprising that this vision of evolutionary progress was not derived from study of the fossil record. For, by 1871, when The Descent was published, little more than the original Neanderthal skull from the Feldhofer Grotto in Germany had been presented to the scientific world in publication. Thus Darwin essentially followed the precedent of the Great Chain of Being in perceiving the ascendancy of humans through a sequence of living forms that went from monkeys to apes, to the most primitive and uncivilized humans, and on up to the most advanced and civilized humans. Having established to his satisfaction that one could trace such a transformation series through living apes and humans, Darwin could turn this horizontal comparison ninety degrees and imbue it with the element of evolutionary and geological time. But there were few fossils known that could support his contention. The only potential candidates for such a human-ape ancestor were from deposits in France and were no more than a few broken jaws--which didn't help at all. Nevertheless, Darwin speculated with supreme assuredness that, were the fossils known, a similar evolutionary transformation--from monkey through ape to primitive and then civilized human--would certainly be played out.     The idea that the human condition arose from the primitive, savage, and wild--portrayed by whichever "race" or fossil qualified as representing the lowest human condition--was not novel with Darwin. There is a long history of such formations, which are epitomized in the writings of the Roman philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus ( c. 99-55BC), more widely known just by his middle name. Compared with the puny Romans of his day, Lucretius' first humans were larger and had harder and stronger bodies. Unlike Romans, who depended on the comforts of civilization, these first humans--although lacking both fire and clothing--could endure any kind of environmental circumstance. Like other animals, they traveled in bands and, depending on the weather, either slept on the ground, in thickets, or in caves. They could eat anything without consequence and rarely fell ill. How much more similar to nineteenth- and early twentieth-century reconstructions of the life of early humans--not to mention modern cartoon strips such as Alley Oop--could Lucretius' account have been? In and Out of the Dark Ages Although the ideas of degeneration and progress in Greek and early Roman natural philosophy might seem naive to us today, they arose from within a tradition that honored scientific investigation, questioning, and individuality of thought. This was the world of Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Herodotus, among others. In this world there was also an appreciation of humans being as much a part of nature as other animals, and, like them, being subject to the whims of their surroundings, environmental or, in the case of humans, also cultural. But both the idea that nature somehow played a role in the development of each organism's attributes and a generally healthy scientific attitude toward gathering data from the real world just for the sake of learning about it were squelched by the rise of Christianity in the first and second centuries A.D. Inquiry within the confines of a monolithic church could only proceed through the acts of prayer and revelation. Personal experience and direct observation no longer counted in the assessment of what should have been a scientific problem. In fact, inquirers were often burned at the stake or drawn and quartered as a heretics and infidels. With the resulting demise of unfettered inquiry, the biblical story of creation came to be supported by the oddest of supposed forms of proof. For instance, around the turn of the seventh century, Isadore, Bishop of Seville, noted that the Latin word for man, "homo," could be derived from the Latin word "humus." Because "humus" refers to the organic part of soil, Isadore argued, there must be truth to the story of the creation of Adam from dust as presented in the Old Testament in the Book of Genesis.     Although the naturalists of the Dark Ages were intellectually stymied, their search for evidence of the work of a divine creator did fuel the desire to clarify the details of the Great Chain of Being. To be sure, the Chain was nothing more than a translation of Aristotle's Scala Naturae in which organisms were lined up from the simple to the complex. But its demonstration became the task of the comparative anatomists of the emergent Renaissance--such as the German Konrad von Gesner, the Englishman Edward Wotton, and the Italian Caesalpinus of Arezzo, all of the mid-sixteenth century--who expressed the results of their labors in taxonomies or classifications. The common desire of these naturalists was to elucidate the supposed natural order of creation for which, of course, there could be only one scheme. And they did so through the search for organisms that would close in the gaps of, and provide the missing links in, the Great Chain. For if, according to doctrine, all life forms that could have been created had been created, then discovering them was ultimately achievable. Despite this common goal, the classifications that these scholars generated as demonstration of the divine arrangement of life were often as different from one another as the taxonomists themselves. Not only was there no coordinated or agreed-upon system of classification, there was no clear sense of what the basic unit of nature was. The idea of the species, which would ultimately be seen as the basic unit of nature, was to be long in its gestation.     There was a profound consequence of trying to pigeonhole the organic world into a taxonomy demonstrating a continuum from the most primitive to the most advanced in perfection: how did one deal with the human end of the classification? In the context of a Great Chain of Being, there had to be some humans that were closer to the "brutes" than were others. And because it was necessary for a taxonomist to provide in his classification the transition or link between the apes and the rest of humanity, various human groups were put forward as being the most primitive, or brutish, of living humans. Favorites among some early taxonomists were the Hottentots or "Bushmen" (the Kalahari San), then known in Europe by little more than rumor. Even in the nineteenth century, such rationalists as Thomas Henry Huxley and Charles Darwin had their favorite "savage." For Huxley, it was the Australian Aborigine, and for Darwin, the Tierra del Fuegian. [Figure 1] From such supposedly transitional forms--the most brutish of humans--the taxonomists proceeded to line up the races as they perceived them, leading, of course, to the pinnacle of perfection, white Europeans, with males, of course,--at the top. Some taxonomists even segregated males and females hierarchically within each perceived non-European race.     Although documenting the Great Chain of Being may have been the motivating force behind the works of these early taxonomists, the implications of such a Chain were not also uniformly shared. For some taxonomists the simple, straightforward biblical creation story encompassed all life. For humans this meant that, no matter how many different races a taxonomist carved out, they all shared the same history. They were all, according to this "monogenetic" interpretation, descendants of Adam. So far, perhaps, so good. But there was a dangerous and less attractive side. The flip side of monogenesis was polygenesis; and from the polygenists' point of view, the differences between races were simply too great for all to be traceable to the same Adam. Different races, therefore, had to have arisen from different Adams.     As late as the early nineteenth century, and still in the pursuit of the Great Chain, one taxonomist, Jean Baptiste Bory St. Vincent, went so far as to recognize fifteen species of human, which he sorted into two subgenera within the genus Homo . Clearly, this is pushing the envelope of such a presumed hierarchy in nature. Even Darwin, who used the device of a transition from identifiably primitive to civilized "man" in The Descent of Man , was committed to the membership of all humans in the same species. One cannot but wonder if a latent resurgence of belief in polygenesis has not been unconsciously behind the tendency among post-World War II paleoanthropologists to keep the number of extinct hominid species to a minimum. For, by grouping ourselves and such wildly different hominids as Neanderthals and a host of other fossil humans in the same species, the differences between groups of living humans become even further diminished by comparison.     To explain further how some early taxonomists dealt with humans, one easy way in which the differences between "us" and "them" (the rest of the organic world) could be highlighted was by not classifying humans at all--despite the agreement of virtually all taxonomists that humans were anatomically similar to the other animals that Linnaeus would eventually classify in Primates. This is precisely what the sixteenth-century Swiss comparative anatomist and taxonomist, Konrad von Gesner, did. He specifically excluded humans from his comparisons and classification. Fortunately, at least for the history of taxonomy as a discipline, Gesner did attempt to bring some order to the art of classification. He proposed the rank of genus, which he used as the base level of a classification denoting the links of the Great Chain of Being. A century and a half later, the Swedish botanist and taxonomist Linnaeus would take Gesner's genus and put it together with the species that the seventeenth-century English zoologist and comparative anatomist, John Ray, had proposed as an even more basic unit of classification. And in what would be his most radical move in the same work, his Systema Naturae , Linnaeus would place humans not only in their own genus and species, Homo sapiens , he would place them in an order together with other animals.     But it was not easy getting to the point where Linnaeus could steel himself against the calumny of his colleagues and the church by classifying humans with other animals. First there had to be a scientific recognition that humans were even like other animals. In 1632, Joannes Jonstonus took the taxonomic bull by the horns and discussed humans simply in comparison with other animals. But even this was pushing the limit of what was considered acceptable. So Jonstonus stopped there, refraining from classifying humans with other animals. He kept them by themselves, as would be expected of a view of creation in which humans were ultimately regarded as being inextricably different from other forms of life. When all else was considered, humans would seemingly always have to be set apart from the rest of the animal world because of their ability to reason and in their possession of language. Alas, revelation, not personal observation, still governed the pursuit of organismic science. Still, by this point humans were at least more visibly part of the general concern of taxonomists.     Although John Ray is acknowledged today as father of the science of systematic zoology, even he could not break free of the stranglehold of the Great Chain of Being. The place of humans as closest to their creator continued to dominate Ray's conceptions no matter how clear it was becoming that, anatomically at least, humans were like other animals--especially the apes and monkeys. By virtue of their ability to reason and their possession of language, humans would, for Ray, always be apart from their near look-alikes, monkeys and apes. It is thus something of an odd irony that Ray was the first taxonomist to recognize formally in his classification the great similarities between humans and that subset of other animals we now refer to as primates. He did so by introducing the term Anthropomorpha, which means "man shaped." But, no matter how anthropomorphic apes and monkeys obviously were, they were fated to be classified apart from humans.     Perhaps it was because of his weddedness to the doctrine of the Great Chain of Being that Ray took that one step that no other taxonomist had done previously. He went below Gesner's genus to the level of the species, a term he coined to designate the most fundamental units of life. Until Ray, even Gesner's genus was at best only a vague referent to a collection of specimens that might not even constitute a real group in nature. But Ray's species, derived as it was from the Latin word referring to a particular "kind" of something, was meant to identify true groups of individuals. Here, then, was a way to reflect the most fundamental acts of creation, to identify the kinds of animals that a divine creator had placed on the face of the earth. Species, not odd collections of organisms or single individuals displaying pathological conditions, were the real and fundamental units of nature. Although he eventually broke intellectual ranks with the taxonomists who were enslaved by the Great Chain of Being, Linnaeus would draw both on Ray's species and Gesner's genus to create the basic elements of the classification system we still use today.     A botanist by training, Linnaeus, like all good taxonomists, embraced and feverishly studied all specimens that came his way--from the inorganic to the organic, animal as well as plant. In 1735, at the ripe old age of twenty-five, this Swede became the first taxonomist formally to put humans and other animals in the same group. In the first edition of his major work, Systema Naturae , he placed humans in a group whose name he borrowed from Ray--Anthropomorpha. It was not until the tenth edition of the Systema , which was published in 1758, that Linnaeus replaced Anthropomorpha with the name Primates, the "chiefs of creation."     The broad impact of Linnaeus' work on taxonomy in general came, however, from his recruitment of Gesner's genus and Ray's species into formal usage. Under Linnaeus' scheme, every individual organism had to be assigned to a species, and every species had to be assigned in turn to a genus. The attractiveness of this formulation, and probably a major reason for its rapid and wide adoption, lay in Linnaeus' demand that each species and each genus be defined on the basis of at least one tangible feature or trait. Until Ray introduced the concept of the species and Linnaeus formalized its usage, taxonomists were not bound by any common rules. But, under Linnaeus's scheme, the description of each species conveyed the details that made that particular organism distinct from all others.     If there were some number of species that appeared to have some features in common that suggested that they, in turn, constituted a natural group, then they were placed together in the genus, which was defined on the features that these species shared that were not specific to each as a species. The genus was then defined on the basis of a next higher order of information. Linnaeus did this with what he thought consitituted different species of humanlike animals, including the orangutan, which he lumped with our own species in the genus Homo . And if it appeared that several genera (the plural of genus) shared certain features, then they would be grouped into a higher taxonomic rank, which would be defined on the basis of this still higher order of information. What were you supposed to do if a species appeared to stand alone? According to Linnaeus, it still had to have a genus name, but, in this case, the genus and species shared the same definition. But if a genus came to subsume more than one species, its definition was based on those unique features common to all of its species.     By following Linnaeus' rules of classification, taxonomists could know the criterion or criteria that another taxonomist had used in creating, for example, a new genus or new species. They would also then be able to decide if an unclassified specimen should be allocated to a known genus or species or if it deserved to be distinguished in its own, new species or a new genus and species. In the Systema of 1758, Linnaeus' Order Primates came to embrace the genera Homo, Simia , and Lemur . The genus Lemur subsumed the "lower" primates and Simia included monkeys but not apes because the two apes that were then known to science, the orangutan of southeast Asia and the chimpanzee of central Africa, were classified as species of Homo . Although Linnaeus labored to define each genus and its species by at least one anatomical feature that seemed to be distinctive of it, he did not do so for Homo. Homo was simply defined by the phrase Nosce te ipsum , know thyself. Apparently, if. Linnaeus had been totally free of the religious and political shackles of his day, he probably would not have created a separate genus for humans. As he admitted in a letter to a colleague, he did not believe that any feature of note separated Homo from Simia . He did so only to minimize the amount of opprobrium he would attract with his brazen act of classifying humans in a group with other animals. Although the phrase Nosce te ipsum may have been useful advice in a philosophical sense, it was to be of no help whatsoever when it came to dealing with the fossil record. Putting Humans into Evolution and Fossils into Human Evolution Although evidence has always existed of the presence of different kinds of past humans, its significance was long in being recognized and was misinterpreted well into the Renaissance. For instance, large megalithic structures, such as Stonehenge, were thought to have been the work of giants of superhuman strength who had once roamed the face of Earth. Stone artifacts, which were exposed along river banks or uncovered when fields were plowed or foundations for roads or houses were dug, were interpreted in one of two ways: either they came from the heavens (the smaller projectile points and arrowheads often being referred to as "elf arrows" and the larger implements as "thunderstones") or they were formed in the bowels of Earth, just like any rock or stone. Konrad von Gesner coined the term ceraunia for such objects. Not only would ceraunia come to embrace a cornucopia of geological objects, it would subsume all excavated hard objects. Thus, ceraunia come to include stone artifacts that had been modified by humans, as well as fossils, which are bones and teeth that become rocklike through the process of mineralization. For centuries fossils, stone tools, and everything else geological were often illustrated in the same plates by one scientist or another who lumped them all together as "things that had been dug up."     The odd thing is that, by the sixteenth century, Europeans were aware of the existence of humans elsewhere in the world who actually used stone instead of metal tools. However, only the sixteenth-century Italian Renaissance scholar Michele Mercati made the proper connection. Before the end of that century, he had suggested that people in the past had also made stone tools, and that such implements were represented among the ceraunia that were being discovered. Unfortunately, Mercati's treatise, although possibly read by some of his contemporaries while in manuscript, was not published until the eighteenth century. Thus the class of ceraunia began to unravel only in the second half of the seventeenth century, with the demonstration by the Danish geologist and anatomist Nicholaus Steno that the structure of rocks that were identical with clams and mussels or shark's teeth were not rocks at all. Instead, Steno explained, these objects had the detailed features of the shells of living clams and mussels or sharks teeth precisely because they were the remains of living organisms that were simply contained in rocks as they formed. [Figure 2]     With the realization that there had actually been ancient organisms whose remains had been incorporated into the rock record, you might think that the stage had been set for the acceptance of human antiquity. And indeed, in 1686, the English natural historian Robert Plot became the first to publish a work on the manufacture of stone tools by earlier humans. He even illustrated stone tools in the same plates as seventeenth-century implements, toys, sculpture, and monuments. There was now no turning back. Stone tools from the past had become an accepted reality.     But there was a downside to this recognition. Another English natural historian, John Woodward, had emphatically stated in 1728 that if you made stone tools, you were not only technologically unsophisticated, you were nothing more than a barbarian and savage. Stone tools that were dug up in the fields had to have been made by earlier humans, who, of course, had been barbaric and savage compared with eighteenth-century Englishmen. But the course of human history had been away from the barbaric to the civilized, away from stone tools to the advanced technology of metallurgy. Truly civilized humans of the eighteenth century had followed this path of progress. The consequence of adhering to this simple-minded chain of thought, however, was that if you were to find any living humans who still made stone tools, they had to be savages. And, unfortunately, western European explorers had discovered many groups of people who still used stone and other non-metal tools. If you belonged to a western society, this simple dichotomy--metal-tool use equals civilized, non-metal tool use equals savage--gave justification to conquest and subjugation. If you were the "other," you were out of luck. As we saw, even Charles Darwin was not exempt from these temptations.     Despite scientists' acknowledgment of the reality of fossils and stone tools, and of the implications from stone tools uncovered in the fields that there had been earlier primitive humans, only non-human animals were allowed by Scripture to be older than the general time of the Great Flood. This was because, if you followed the sequence of creation, nonhuman animals preceded humans. Because animals still inhabited Earth, obviously fossils of now extinct animals not only represented the historical sequence of creation, they also reflected the reality of the biblical flood that had killed off those unfortunate enough not to be saved by Noah. Humans, however, had been created last and in the image of God. Since the period of the Great Flood began with Adam and Eve, humans--primitive or not--would not have existed earlier in time. Thus, in 1857, when Schaaffhausen and Fuhlrott became the first to publish on a fossil human, the evident antiquity of this important specimen--the famous Feldhofer Grotto Neanderthal--was far from universally accepted. [Figure 3] (Continues...) Copyright © 2000 Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey H. Schwartz. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 8
Chapter 1 The Path to Human Evolutionp. 13
In the Beginning
In and Out of the Dark Ages
Putting Humans into Evolution and Fossils into Human Evolution
The Evolutionary Synthesis: Exempting Humans from Natural Selection
Defining Homo
Blumenbach's Legacy
Chapter 2 Evolution Todayp. 43
Chapter 3 Early Bipeds: African Originsp. 55
Forever Australopithecus
The New Era
Not Another Australopith! And Another?
The Age of Discovery
The Making of the Hominid
Arboreal Bipeds?
Earlier Ancestors?
What to Do with Australopiths?
Chapter 4 The Mysterious Homo habilisp. 105
East Turkana
The Transvaal
Back to Olduvai
Unraveling Homo habilis
The Influence of Climate
Early Toolmakers
Chapter 5 The Emergence of the Modern Bodyp. 125
East Side Story
When East Meets Far East
Another East African Homo erectus?
A Glimpse at the Life History of the Nariokotome Youth
Will the Real Homo erectus Please Stand Up?
Chapter 6 Homo ergaster and Homo erectus: The Great Diasporap. 147
Java Man
Peking Man
The Cave of Zhoukoudian
New Discoveries
Surprise Dates
Ngandong Revisited
The Invasion of Europe
Multiple Departures?
Chapter 7 Neanderthals and Human Extinctionsp. 173
The Neanderthals
Neanderthal Anatomy
The Ice Age Environment in Europe and Western Asia
Neanderthal Technology
Neanderthal Lifestyles
Neanderthal Economies
Neanderthal Burial and Symbolic Behaviors
Neanderthal Extinction
Chapter 8 And Then there Was Onep. 223
Out of Africa
African Eve
The Levant
The First Modern Europeans
Becoming Human
Further Readingp. 249
Indexp. 252