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Phenotypic traits of primate hybrids: Recognizing admixture in the fossil record


  • Rebecca Rogers Ackermann

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    • Rebecca Rogers Ackermann is an Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology, University ofCape Town, South Africa. Her primary research focuses on the relationship between evolutionary process and morphological variation in human evolution.


For many years, the likelihood that hybridization occurred in human evolution has been debated. Tattersall and Schwartz pointed out one of the core problems with resolving this debate, namely “that nobody has any idea what a Neanderthal/modern human hybrid might look like in theory, and few have dared to suggest in practice that any particular known fossil represents such a hybrid.”1:7117 Moreover, while molecular data is proving increasingly useful for characterising hybrid zones, the utility of the phenotype for this purpose is not clear.2 Here I address these issues, discussing both theoretical and empirically-derived expectations for what hybrid morphology looks like, with an emphasis on the skeleton of hybrid primates, and consideration of the hominin fossil record.