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New book on climate and human evolution

I hope this works and WordPress doesn’t strip out the HTML code [later note: It did]. This looks like an interesting book, although its evolutionary tree is a bit old fashioned, almost Haeckelian.

11 Comments

  1. Wes Wes

    Interesting. You don’t really see diagrams that take the “tree” metaphor so far any more. I wonder if they just did this for purely nostalgic reasons.

    The pdf ought to make for good spring break reading…….Ah, who am I kidding. I’ll have more work during spring break than I do when school is in session. :-/

  2. It’s been suggested previously that climate/vegetation played an important role in human evolution, but our time interval precision has been too fluffy to provide anything definitive.

    It is certainly reasonable to assume a role for climate and vegetation (the increase in grass over trees for example) but the reality is that it’s probably a mess of factors interacting at various levels. Biology is meesy like that.

  3. Not quite as clunky as the weird spinal cord that ran with Ardipithecus last year.

    But, similar in a way with all of that fake data and chart junk. I blame g.g. simpson. Just kidding. No I’m not. Yeah, I am.

    • John Wilkins John Wilkins

      No you’re not.

  4. Paul Armstrong Paul Armstrong

    are there really data supporting those side branches that went extinct? I count three each on the bonobo and chimpanzee branches in the pleistocene, and numerous others throughout.

    • Wes Wes

      No direct data as far as I know, but evolutionary theory predicts that there would be such branches. Their particular placement is just arbitrary, as far as I can tell.

      The only extinct side branch on the chart supported by data, that I know of, is paranthropus.

  5. Chris' Wills Chris' Wills

    Is there are problem with this style of depicting evolving species?

    I realise that we shouldn’t read it as ascent to some pre-planned outcome or with progress.

    However, it is accurate in respect of time and putative branching isn’t it?

    Is it considered old fashion and not now done because some fear people may see it as ascent?

    • Paul Armstrong Paul Armstrong

      the short side branches that imply extinctions are probably not accurate or based on real fossil data, but as Wes said, the theory predicts extinctions, so it appears those branches were added arbitrarily to show that. I don’t think this tree necessarily implies some kind of directional progress though.

      • Chris' Wills Chris' Wills

        Thanks Paul,

        It was the comment made by our host although its evolutionary tree is a bit old fashioned, almost Haeckelian. , as well as the note by Wes You don’t really see diagrams that take the “tree” metaphor so far any more. I wonder if they just did this for purely nostalgic reasons. that had me somewhat at a loss and wondering what is wrong with the diagram, if anything.

        • I can’t see very much wrong with your tree – but JW was *probably* hoping for a few more indications of “horizontal” gene transfer.

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