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Using extant morphological variation to understand fossil
 

Summary: Using extant morphological
variation to understand fossil
relationships: a cautionary tale
Rebecca Rogers Ackermann*
R
ECENT STUDIES OF VARIATION IN LIVING
monkeys, apes, and humans have
produced a number of insights that are
pertinent to how we evaluate relationships
among our fossil human ancestors. Here I
summarize four such insights. I then use a
fossil hominid example to illustrate how our
understanding of variation can alter our inter-
pretation of the past. Results show that our
assessments of the relationships among fossil
hominids can differ depending on which
extant model of variation is used as a variation
`yardstick.' Additionally, our interpretations
of these relationships can be swayed consid-
erably by how we evaluate significance.

  

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

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine