Meetings that paleoanthropologists gather for on human origins is becoming quite entertaining. Take this meeting for example which revolved around hominin bones found in the mid-1990s at Sima de los Huesos in Spain. Two different dates were assigned to these bones. One assumption consisted of 350,000 year old range then another assumption was taken and the results came out to 530,000 years old.
The second made the bones older than H. Heidelbergensis fossils which were found elsewhere in Europe. This age assumption puts the bones in an evolutionary age where it doesn’t resemble much with the rest. The report in Science goes like this…
“Tattersall concludes that two or more hominin lineages must have existed side by side in Europe for several hundred thousand years before H. sapiens arrived from Africa. One line led to the Neandertals and may have included the Sima fossils; another, rightly called H. heidelbergensis, went extinct while the Neandertals lived on until at least 30,000 years ago.
Tattersall then looked at Arsuaga, who was sitting in the audience waiting to speak next: “My central plea is to the colleagues who assigned the Sima de los Huesos fossils to H. heidelbergensis. They are clearly not Neandertals, but not being a Neandertal does not make them H. heidelbergensis. They need another name.”
A hush fell over the room as Tattersall sat down and Arsuaga got up to speak. To nearly everyone’s surprise, Arsuaga agreed that the Sima de los Huesos skulls looked nothing like other H. heidelbergensis specimens. Nor, he said, do 13 other skulls his team had recently excavated there. “We have always said that we put the Sima hominins under the H. heidelbergensis umbrella for convenience, for practical reasons,” Arsuaga said….”
Jean-Jacques Hublin who wasn’t even at the meeting argues that these bones have some Neanderthal features which came from the story called; the “accretion” model. On the other hand, Balter argues “to scrap the species name H. heidelbergensis and lump all of these fossils, including those from Sima, together as H. neanderthalensis.” This would certain make Neanderthals a morphologically diverse group covering a long span of time but what about Heidelberg Man? Conflict arose with Chris Stringer and Bischoff who defended the date as a “conservative” estimate. The fossils could be even older, he claims, but not younger. Names not important?
“But Tattersall insists that names do matter, even if more of them are required to classify the fossil record. “Species have an independent existence in nature,” he says. “They are the basic actors in the evolutionary play, and if you don’t know who the cast is, you will never understand the plot.”
Oh, Tattersall claims, we must understand with names, “the plot” of the evolutionary story. More controversy with another aspect of this complex story not conducted by the bones, modern humans emerged from Africa 50,000 years ago and displaced the earlier hominins living there. But other observations such as the one in Levant (Israel-Lebanon), where “modern humans apparently lived alongside Neandertals between about 130,000 and 75,000 years ago, as part of what some scientists have called a “failed dispersal.”
Struggling with contrary evidence is evident which made the bones just props for the evolutionary story. To believe in it, you have to suspend reality. Let’s put it this way, there is no further reason to deny calling them all Homo sapiens – human beings.