Re: Human skull evolution

James Taggart (
Mon, 8 Jun 1998 07:54:05 -0400

Glenn Morton wrote:

One of the things that the modern face illustrates is the nature of the
fossil record. The earliest man with a modern human face is now about a
million years old. Then there is a gap of 250-300,000 years before the
second example if found. After that is another gap of about 600,000 years
before the third example. Such gaps are found in the fossil record for the
earliest examples of any item you wish to name, from wine to farming to
sewing needles to pottery to faces to fossil animals. While the earliest
example is often quoted as the oldest, with any item, it is highly unlikely
that the first example was actually fossilized or preserved.

Another thing about the fossil record which must be treated with care is
the danger of exrapolating from a single example. Just as there are people
alive today whose features might be mistaken for Neandertal (or some
descendant thereof), is it possible that the skull from Gran Dolina is also
an exception. With a half million years intervening til the next find,
that guy might just have been a funny looking h. erectus?