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Human Variation - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Human Variation
A set of ancient skulls have raised the question of diversity in the human family tree.  It could be that these are normal variations within a single species.  People are arguing about precisely that.  It's possible; collies and pugs look quite different.

Apparently nobody has thought to raise the other  possibility: a community of several species living together or perhaps members of a circumannular species/subspecies ring.  And you know what?  That really would be an outlier, because the rest of humanity is downright xenophobic.  Imagine if we had ancestors who somehow managed to get along.  That would take prehistoric fiction to a whole new level.  What would humanity look like without the meme, "It's okay to kill people if you don't like them" ...?

I'm thinking that would get them kicked off the family tree.  You, out of the gene pool!  Go sit with the bonobos.

Anyhow, I'd look for markers of family ties among skeletons found close to each other, and look for cultural or technological markers across distant finds.  Homo ergaster  had a pretty sophisticated hand-axe but didn't seem to adapt it once invented nor share it around much.  Other folks seemed to develop their own different tools.  So artifacts can give important clues.

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Current Mood: curious curious

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Comments
msminlr From: msminlr Date: October 18th, 2013 12:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Totally OT for human evolution, but I thought you might be interested in this article; may even know something about the subject already.

http://clonehenge.com/2013/10/17/the-henge-on-a-hill-off-longhollow-road-its-a-mystery/
fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 19th, 2013 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks to a genetic bottleneck thousands of years ago, which left maybe 10,000 people worldwide, the modern homo sapiens is very much inbred. There is more genetic difference between a collie and a Labrador than there is between black people and white people.

I'm thinking that would get them kicked off the family tree. You, out of the gene pool! Go sit with the bonobos.

Why punish the poor bonobos? They're the hippy sex addicts of the pan line.

Personally, I think "Homo sapiens sapiens" is extremely inaccurate and conceited a name. I prefer "Nudipan narrans," which means "Naked, story-telling ape."

As to human species living in harmony, aside from the obvious of cro-magnon and Neanderthal interbreeding to make European whites... there's some of that going on in "Darwin's Children" (the sequel to "Darwin's Radio"), including a scene where several different human species were found living together back in the distant past.

Also, I find scifi stories depicting two or more native sentient species peacefully coexisting (more or less) to be rare and interesting. One reason why I'm glad there are three (or four, if you include the symbionts) sentient species coexisting peacefully (more or less) on Traipah. I also loved the Xindi, in "Enterprise." That planet had FIVE sentient species of greatly different kinds living together: primates, arboreals, reptilians, insectoids, and aquatics. (Six at one time, but the avians died out.)

Edited at 2013-10-19 12:23 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 19th, 2013 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>Personally, I think "Homo sapiens sapiens" is extremely inaccurate and conceited a name. I prefer "Nudipan narrans," which means "Naked, story-telling ape."<<

*laugh* I like that one.

>> there's some of that going on in "Darwin's Children" (the sequel to "Darwin's Radio"), <<

Yes, that was cool, although much of the series was about interspecies conflict.

>> That planet had FIVE sentient species of greatly different kinds living together: primates, arboreals, reptilians, insectoids, and aquatics. (Six at one time, but the avians died out.) <<

That's what I loved about Dinotopia too.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 19th, 2013 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmmm....
Juat thinking out loud here but perhaps those stone axes were more of a ceremonial tool rather than an every-day tool?
These people may have had all sorts of tools which they used every day and in lots of different ways which just didn't survive for us to find.

We are still a long way from being a smoothly homogenous species even today. Most people would be amazed to see how much variation there is amongst modern peoples' skeletons alone, much less all the visual differences between the different races of modern humanity. I think chances are good that ancient humanity had just as many visual differences between them as we do and perhaps more which didn't survive along with the bones.

The true evidence for us having evolved from the hybridization of several different human subspecies shows up in the genetics concerned with our blood and its many blood groupings (i.e.: ABO blood grouping, Lewis grouping, Rh factor, American Indian/Asian factor, etc.).
I strongly suspect that blood group incompatibility is one of the main causes of early spontaneous abortions (the sort where the mother thinks her period has simply arrived late).
After all, two species don't have to look different from each other to be separate species. Genetic incompatibility alone is enough to make them separate.
:)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 20th, 2013 12:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> Just thinking out loud here but perhaps those stone axes were more of a ceremonial tool rather than an every-day tool? <<

Possible, but it seems to be an everyday, all-purpose tool.

>> These people may have had all sorts of tools which they used every day and in lots of different ways which just didn't survive for us to find. <<

Also likely.

>>After all, two species don't have to look different from each other to be separate species. Genetic incompatibility alone is enough to make them separate.<<

Those are all excellent points.

Actually, this matches something I was thinking: it's possible to have a cluster of subspecies, some of which can interbreed and others not. The circumannual pattern seems most common but there are others.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: October 20th, 2013 06:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

"Actually, this matches something I was thinking: it's possible to have a cluster of subspecies, some of which can interbreed and others not. The circumannual pattern seems most common but there are others."

I agree.
:)
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