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Where does the human species discovered in the DRAP fit in the tree of human evolution, and maybe it was even a side branch?

A day after the initial publication, comments begin to arrive, criticizing, among other things, the fact that the article has not yet been peer-reviewed, and that it will take years to assess the age of the skeletons.

Throwing corpses into an isolated room in a cave, to protect them from scavengers, is probably the first burial custom. Illustration ART BY JON FOSTER. SOURCE: LEE BERGER, WITS
Throwing corpses into an isolated room in a cave, to protect them from scavengers, is probably the first burial custom. Illustration ART BY JON FOSTER. SOURCE: LEE BERGER, WITS


Modern humans, or Homo sapiens, are now the only species in the human genus (homo in Latin), however, until about a hundred thousand years ago, several other species belonging to the genus Homo lived. Together with modern man, these extinct species, which are our direct ancestors and relatives, are collectively referred to as hominins.

The extended human family or hominins includes several interesting types, but what is interesting about the new discovery is the large number of individuals whose remains were discovered, which is an achievement in itself, since as mentioned they belong to 15 different people, and that too from only one square meter inside the cave. However, it is the combination of primitive and advanced features that caused excitement in the world of science.

One of the advanced features is the one that contributed to today's scientists a veritable gold mine - the possibility that it was a deliberate burial after they threw the bodies into a pit that ended up in the isolated room, so isolated and with almost no evidence of other animal bones, provides the only explanation available to science as to how so many arrived Skeletons to a dark and inaccessible spot.

What convinced the scientists that it was a new species belonging to the human genus (Homo) were the long legs and human feet, which indicated that the creature walked upright and had no difficulty migrating long distances. This feature led the scientist behind this task, Lee Berger from the University of Witwatersrand (or Wits for short) to include it in the genus Homo and he even proposed the name Homo naldi (See details in the first report on the discovery).

Why is Lucy not a person and Naldi is?

In 1974, a female hominin skeleton was discovered - named Lucy. This discovery proved for the first time that human-like species existed in the past that were not human enough to be included in the human genus. The oldest and most ape-like hominins that have been discovered have been given their own genus - Arpedipitcus, and there is still a debate in the scientific community as to whether they walked upright or not. Lucy was classified under the genus Australopithecus mainly because she showed adaptations to life both in trees and on the ground.

Lucy and her fellow Australopithecus lived 3-4 million years ago, shortly before the genus Homo entered the scene. At the height of the transition, a third type of not exactly human comes into play. The members of the Paranthropus group are defined by their large teeth and jaws which allowed them to eat a wide variety of food types.

According to its characteristics, Homo Naldi is indeed a good candidate to be the first Homo species, but we won't know for sure until they perform the chemical analysis needed to determine their age. On the one hand they have a small brain and in fact most of the upper part is quite primitive when the arms are adapted to climbing trees and relying on the hands to hang on to the tree and the fingers are curved and suitable for curling around the branches and on the other hand legs that could hardly be distinguished from those of modern humans.

This combination of modern and primitive features shows that the fact that Homo naldi is on the tree of human evolution exactly at the seam of the transition between Ostlopithecus like Lucy and the genus Homo - like us, has already been proven, but it is still not clear where it stands in relation to other hominins of the genus Homo. BBC Science Correspondent in Johannesburg Pallab Ghosh compiled the list outlining the chronology of human evolution with the help of experts. Apparently he lived before or at the same time as the first human species so far - Homo habilis.


The updated tree of human evolution

  • ardipithecus ramidus (4.4 million years ago) - the fossils of this species were discovered in Ethiopia in the nineties. The hip pelvis showed adaptations for both tree climbing and upright walking.
  • Australopithecus afarensis Australopithecus afarensis (2.9-3.9 million years ago). The chassis of the famous Lucy belongs to this species close to man. So far fossils of this species have been discovered only in East Africa, some of the skeletal features indicated that Afarensis walked upright, but they spent more time on trees.
  • Homo habilis (Lived 2.8-1.5 million years ago) This relative of man had a larger skull and smaller teeth than Australopithecus or older species, but retained primitive features such as long arms.
  • Homo Naldi (Its age is unknown but according to the characteristics it may be about 3 million years old) - the newly discovered species had small, modern looking teeth, human legs but primitive fingers and a smaller brain box.
  • Homo erectus (lived from 1.9 million years ago, it is not known when it became extinct) - this species had a modern body structure that is almost difficult to distinguish from ours, but it had a smaller brain than a modern human, and this in addition to its primitive face.
  • Neanderthal man (from 200 years ago to about 40 years ago) - the pendulum is constantly moving between being part of the human race or a side group, right now the balance is leaning towards the second option. They inhabited western Eurasia before our species left Africa. They were shorter and more muscular than modern humans but had slightly larger brains.
    Homo sapiens (from 200 years ago until it became extinct) - modern humans evolved in Africa from a previous species that was named Homo heidelbergensis. A small group of Homo sapiens left Africa 60 years ago and settled the rest of the world, everywhere replacing other human species, while exhibiting a tiny amount of interbreeding.

And maybe it's even a side branch?

Since the revelation of the discovery yesterday, scientists have set out to cool the spirits, and some of them have questioned whether it is a game changer, as Berger suggests, or an evolutionary quirk. Some even accused him of chasing headlines and playing with the media. They point out that in addition to the lack of data on the age of the findings, the findings have not yet been peer-reviewed. This is no wonder, especially in light of the story that is increasingly turning out to be a farce of the "Homo Fluorescence" - the hobbits who were allegedly discovered in Indonesia several years ago, and the current hypothesis is that this is a modern woman who fell ill in a rare bone disease.

Everyone agrees on at least one thing - that the scientists detailed their findings and allowed everyone to examine them.

The New York Times quoted human evolutionist William Harcourt Smith of Lyman College who criticized the classification of the new species as part of the genus Homo, to which we also belong. "It will take them years to determine the age of these skeletons. The most important thing now is to try to exhaust DNA samples from the fossils. "Since the bones are in the primary egg, it is possible that they may also betray the DNA secrets, so we should try to examine this direction as well. Once we have the genetic message of these pats, we can really begin to shed light on these creatures, because you can't argue with DNA."


Another criticism was of Berger's decisive assertion regarding the centrality of South Africa in human evolution. Most of the findings so far have come from the Great African Basin (Ethiopia, Kenya and their surroundings), and only a minority from South Africa, which may have received immigrants from the north at different times.


More of the topic in Hayadan:

4 תגובות

  1. The more we discover, the less we understand. They will look for the missing link in vain. The modern man is the product of deliberate manipulation of one of these species. The book of Genesis speaks of this unequivocally. Today when we ourselves in the 21st century engage in genetic engineering and reproduction and artificial insemination, we refuse to recognize this. Gentlemen, get out of the box. Let a man be created in our image and likeness and he will lack but a little of us. Said the astronauts who are called Pay attention to the plural of God. The act of creating a person from bone marrow is also mentioned in the form of the creation of a farm. And so on .

  2. All of them are a combination of many. The East is a division of the gay who raped and conquered the extinct lands
    The extinct didn't disappear it just integrated and slowly generation after generation and changes in nature lead to me and you being the same species only mine has a part of a certain species included you but you have something that didn't include me

  3. Unlike what is written above,
    It is not clear to us to this day whether the Indonesian species was a separate subspecies, or had a genetic disease.
    Any attempt to show a connection between him and a modern genetic disease has failed.

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