Dating your Ancestors is Complicated: The Strange Case of Homo Naledi

34 minutes

On this episode, Adam and Ryan dive into the complexities of our ever  evolving human family. How we understand our ancient ancestors,  cousins, and ape family has the potential to impact our understanding of  what it means to be human and how we are still changing. The new and  exciting data we dive into this episode is all about Homo Naledi,  perhaps the most recent addition to our family. As of the day we  recorded this episode, April 25th, the first concrete date range for the  species was publicized (but stay tuned for further developments).  Rather than being very early (that is more ancient) and dating to the  time of the earliest Homo Erectus specimens as originally hypothesized  (some 2 million years ago), it now appears that Naledi was potentially a  contemporary of the earliest Homo Sapiens (that’s us) ranging from 200  to 300 thousand years ago. This means we need to re-evaluate our genus  once again and think about the complexities of dating our ancestors.

Quick definitions:

  • Species – a group of living organisms consisting of similar  individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding; Homo,  Australopicus
  • Genus – one step below species on the taxonomic system: A. afarensis (Lucy), H. sapiens (us), H. neandertal, H. naledi

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