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Homo heidelbergensis

Buck, LT Homo heidelbergensis. In: Vonk, J and Shackelford, T, (eds.) Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-55064-0 (Accepted)

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The taxonomy and phylogeny of Homo heidelbergensis is much debated (for a review see Stringer 2012), so much so that this period in human evolution has been dubbed the “muddle in the Middle [Pleistocene].” There is little agreement on which specimens should be included in H. heidelbergensis (that is to say, the group of specimens which constitute what is known as its “hypodigm”), nor even whether it constitutes a valid species at all. Many Middle Pleistocene hominins (taxa more closely related to H. sapiens than to chimpanzees) share primitive features with earlier species, such as H. erectus, but also share derived traits with later Pleistocene specimens such as H. sapiens and Neanderthals (e.g., Rightmire 2013). This mosaic morphology has led researchers to group them together as a single Afro-European species designation: H. heidelbergensis. Some have also suggested that additional Asian Middle Pleistocene fossils may extend the range of H. heidelbergensis (e.g., Stringer 2012). One reason for the great interest in H. heidelbergensis is that the Middle Pleistocene is the epoch during which the H. sapiens lineage split from our sister taxa, the Neanderthals and Denisovans, and H. heidelbergensis has long been considered a possible last common ancestor (LCA) for these two lineages (Buck and Stringer 2014; Mounier et al. 2009; Rightmire 2008; Stringer 2012). Knowing the identity of the LCA would allow us to see which differences between our own species and Neanderthals are derived in which lineage, enabling us to better understand our own evolution and that of our closest relatives.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Q Science > QE Geology > QE701 Paleontology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Springer
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2020 11:12
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 23:11
Editors: Vonk, J and Shackelford, T
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14021
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