Ed asked in Social ScienceAnthropology · 4 weeks ago

Why is it so difficult for paleoanthropologists to determine how many hominin species and generathey have discovered and ...?

Why is it so difficult for paleoanthropologists to determine how many hominin species and genera they have discovered and how they relate to one another evolutionarily?

4 Answers

Relevance
  • 3 weeks ago

    Some that have occurred to me:

    -External looks do not always coincide with genes: you may look substantially different from your siblings or parents.

    -There aren't enough fossils to determine which specific traits were unique to that putative (sub)species or genera. We only have a few teeth and partial jaws for some extinct groups like the Denisovans. Consequently, it's very difficult to know what they looked like, and if they were a different species from modern humans, Neanderthals, homo erectus and other extinct Asian hominids.

    -What is a species? Sometimes, members of closely related species can have fertile offspring (as in the case of Denisovans/Neanderthals/modern humans). We can't deduce this from the fossil record alone, we need to perform genetic studies.

  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    Fossils are all that we have and they are often fragmentary. A tooth, a fragment of jaw bone or a small piece of leg bone may be all that is available. It is difficult enough to classify animals evern when we have living ones. Many scientists interpret the same data differently. Some see the data as supporting recognition of 1 species but others may see it as evidence that 2 species, or even 2 genera are represented. Neanderthal remains are fairly abundant, but we had no idea whether it is the same species as humans or a different one until quite recently, when mitochondrial DNA was recovered. Even now, some people claim that we interbred with Neanderthals but the evidence is not irrefutable, since there is no Neanderthal Y chromosome or mitochondrial DNA found in any living human being, something we would expect if interbreeding actually took place.

  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    because evolution is very slow

    Also, species is defined as having the ability to have fertile offspring.

    We have no living denisovans or neanderthals to try and make babies with

    plus what graybold said

  • 4 weeks ago

    There are thousands of fossils, mostly fragmentary, often consisting of single bones or isolated teeth with complete skulls and skeletons being extremely rare.

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.