Early Homo and the role of the genus in paleoanthropology

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2018 Jan;165 Suppl 65:72-89. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.23387.


The history of the discovery of early fossils attributed to the genus Homo has been contentious, with scholars disagreeing over the generic assignment of fossils proposed as members of our genus. In this manuscript I review the history of discovery and debate over early Homo and evaluate the various taxonomic hypotheses for the genus. To get a sense of how hominin taxonomy compares to taxonomic practice outside paleoanthropology, I compare the diversity of Homo to genera in other vertebrate clades. Finally, I propose a taxonomic model that hews closely to current models for hominin phylogeny and is consistent with taxonomic practice across evolutionary biology.

Keywords: early Homo; genus; taxonomy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Female
  • Fossils
  • Hominidae / classification*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paleontology / methods*
  • Phylogeny