Discovering the evolution of any set of living creatures is a complex and highly detailed task for scientists, and theories and approaches that may differ over time can indeed alter the fossil record. But paleoanthropologist and Stony Brook University professor Carrie S. Mongle, Ph.D., and her co-authors urge investigators to exercise caution in their findings. They provide researchers studying the evolutionary past of ancient hominids (a group that includes humans and our immediate fossil ancestors) with an important and fundamental message in a recent paper published in Nature ecology and evolution. That is, the conclusions drawn from evolutionary models are only as good as the data on which they are based.
In “Modeling Hominin Evolution Requires Accurate Hominin Data,” the authors expand on a response to a previous research paper that made major claims about when the genus Homo appeared on the planet. basis of fossil dates. The team, however, proved that many of the fossil dates in the study were wrong, and they provided data to correct those errors.
“It has become increasingly common in our field for researchers to come up with a ‘new and exciting’ synthesis of evolutionary events that a given group of scientists believe is shaking up our understanding of human evolution,” says Professor Mongle. assistant in the Department of Anthropology and Turkana. Basin Institute. “Our article is intended to draw attention to the fact that we cannot make major assertions based on fragmentary compilations of the fossil record and questionable data from the literature. We also offer a set of carefully limited geochronological data that researchers can use for future studies.”
Mongle and his co-authors found that by reanalyzing the original study with corrected fossil dates, the estimated timing of species divergences differed by up to 300,000 years from previously reported estimates. This is important because these estimates are often used to correlate evolutionary transitions with ancient environments and climate change. When estimates are so wrong, it can completely change scientists’ interpretations of the evolutionary factors that made us human.
Mongle and his co-authors make the case for evolutionary scientists to develop future studies of total evidence when studying human evolution. They conclude that it is “critical to recognize that no algorithm replaces careful comparative anatomy and meticulously constrained geochronology when it comes to interpreting evolutionary trends from the fossil record.”
New analysis suggests increasing body size did not play role in origins of genus Homo
Carrie S. Mongle et al, Modeling hominin evolution requires accurate hominin data, Nature ecology and evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-022-01791-2
Provided by Stony Brook University
Quote: Getting the fossil record right on human evolution (2022, July 11) retrieved July 12, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-07-fossil-human-evolution.html
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