How many Biological Species of Hominids

The Woodstock of Evolution -- The World Summit on Evolution (ScientificAmerican.com): U.C. Berkeley paleoanthropologist Timothy White said, 'A glance at the extant fossil record looks like Gould was right. There are at least two dozen fossil species in six million years of hominid evolution. However, says White, the bush is not so bushy. 'Name diversity does not equal biological diversity.' The problem lies in the difference between 'lumpers' and 'splitters' in species classification. The academic pressures to publish extraordinary new discoveries dictates that if you want to get your fossil find published in Science or Nature, and you want the cover illustration, you cannot conclude that your fossil is yet another Australopithicus africanus, for example. For such purposes, it's better come up with an interpretation indicating that this new find you are revealing for the first time to the world is the most spectacular discovery of the last century and that it promises to overturn hominid phylogeny and send everyone back to the drawing board to reconfigure the human evolutionary tree. Training a more skeptical eye on many of these fossils, however, shows that many, if not most of these fossils belong in already well-established categories. White concludes that the specimen labeled Kenyanthropus platyops, for example, is very fragmented and is most likely just another Australopithicus africanus.

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