The origin of modern anatomy: By speciation or intraspecific evolution?

Authors

  • Günter Bräuer

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    1. Department of Human Biology, University of Hamburg, Allende-Platz 2, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
    • Department of Human Biology, University of Hamburg, Allende-Platz 2, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
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    • Günter Bräuer is a professor of biological anthropology at the Department of Human Biology, University of Hamburg, Germany. As a paleoanthropologist, he carried out many studies of Pleistocene hominin fossils in Africa, China, Indonesia, and Europe. He is a major proponent of the Out-of-Africa model of modern human origins. His research also has contributed to the problem of taxonomic diversity in African and Asian Homo erectus.


Abstract

“Speciation remains the special case, the less frequent and more elusive phenomenon, often arising by default” (p 164).1

Over the last thirty years, great progress has been made regarding our understanding of Homo sapiens evolution in Africa and, in particular, the origin of anatomically modern humans. However, in the mid-1970s, the whole process of Homo sapiens evolution in Africa was unclear and confusing. At that time it was widely assumed that very archaic-looking hominins, also called the “Rhodesioids,” which included the specimens from Kabwe (Zambia), Saldanha (South Africa), and Eyasi (Tanzania), were spread over wide parts of the continent as recently as 30,000 or 40,000 years ago. Yet, at the same time, there were also indications from the Omo Kibish skeletal remains (Ethiopia) and the Border Cave specimens (South Africa) that anatomically modern humans had already been present somewhat earlier than 100,000 years B.P.2, 3 Thus, it was puzzling how such early moderns could fit in with the presence of very archaic humans still existing in Eastern and Southern Africa only 30,000 years ago.

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