ANTH 451 Species and Species Concepts in Human Paleontology

The number of proposed fossil hominid/hominin species has mushroomed in recent years yet the recognition of species in the human fossil record remains a daunting task. However, in order to reconstruct the phylogenetic (ancestor-descendent) relationships among humans, our ancestors, and close collateral relatives, we must group hominin fossils into meaningful taxonomic categories, ones that likely reflect truly monophyletic (shared common ancestor) descent patterns. This course explores different evolutionary species concepts and their applicability to human paleontology. Current approaches to the reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships are then discussed, and the taxonomic status of hominin species is assessed.