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News and Views Variation in Neandertals: a response to Harvati (2003)
 

Summary: News and Views
Variation in Neandertals: a response to Harvati (2003)
Rebecca Rogers Ackermann*
Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Received 13 August 2004; accepted 8 October 2004
Scientists who study the past work within
a uniformitarianist paradigm, so that our inter-
pretations of patterns seen in the past are informed
by our understanding of patterns in the present. In
biological disciplines, for which systemic change,
feedback mechanisms, and organismal adaptation
are the norm, such an assumption of constancy
through time is necessarily problematic. Therefore,
we need to be careful about how we frame
questions and design our methods for understand-
ing the past, and clear about their weaknesses.
This is especially true when our questions consider
morphological variation over evolutionary time, as
by definition neither is constant; without variation
there is no evolution, while evolutionary change

  

Source: Ackermann, Rebecca Rogers - Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine