Discovery of Homo naledi demonstrates need to revise the Homo genus

The Human Evolution Blog

2015 has been a very exciting year for Paleoanthropology. No doubt the pinnacle was the discovery of a brand-new hominin species Homo naledi, a bombastic revelation met with great and appropriate fanfare in the popular press. But H. naledi is not the only revision that is afoot in our understanding of the way that the Homo genus developed over the past few million years.

Mold by John Girche. Photo by Mark Thiessen (C) National Geographic Mold by John Girche. Photo by Mark Thiessen (C) National Geographic

The father of taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus, like most people of his day (and our own), saw humans as so unique that no other species were fit to share our genus. In 1758, he gave this genus the name Homo using the Latin for man, of course. Because Linnaeus preceded Darwin by a century, he did not appreciate the universal shared ancestry of life on earth. Accordingly, the hierarchical grouping of species into larger…

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