Friday, 29 May 2015
Australopithecus deyiremeda: The Evidence for Lucy’s Relative Is Trifling
There’s not much evidence for the latest hominin – a few teeth and two tiny pieces of the mandible or jawbone. But the earliest reports touted the find as a new human ancestor.
Found in Ethiopia, it already has its own species name Australopithecus deyiremeda although some experts are a bit more cautious, as the diversity within a species can be considerable.
Au. Deyiremeda is thought to be closely related to Au. Afarensis (a.k.a. Lucy) that many evolutionists revere as their grand-grand-grand etc. mother – or something like that. The assumed dates for both southern apes are almost identical, just over 3 million years.
Warning of the danger of extrapolating a bit too much from the evidence, Mark Twain wrote: “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”
It might not be a bad idea to spare a few thoughts on some of the past announcements concerning our assumed ancestors. The evidence for Nebraska Man consisted of a single tooth.
Moreover, perhaps science journalists should keep in mind what J. Shreeve wrote in Discover magazine in 1990: ”Everybody knows fossils are fickle; bones will sing any song you want to hear.”
Callaway, Ewen. 2015. New species of early human discovered near fossil of ‘Lucy’ Nature news (27 May).