MM vs Lucy in Paleoanthropology

It’s been in the paper and the details are being presented in different articles but I’m very confused about the whole idea of a 6 million year old (male?) tossing Lucy out of our ancestry.

PALEOANTHROPOLOGY: Scientists Spar Over Claims of Earliest
Human Ancestor
p. 1460

The site requires registration but here’s the abstract:
“PARIS–In two papers scheduled for publication in the 28
February issue of the Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des
Sciences, researchers claim that a set of
6-million-year-old bones unearthed in Kenya last year
represents our earliest known ancestor. Not only would the
find predate other leading candidates by some 2 million
years; the authors also believe that all
australopithecines–hominids which include the famous
skeleton Lucy, whose species is thought to be one of our
direct ancestors–should be relegated to a side branch in
favor of their specimen.”

Has anyone been following this?



I believe Phil was going on about this very topic a few months ago.

Hmm, I seem to recall also reading some discussion back before last summer. I think the issue of moving Lucy and cousins out of the main branch is actually a seperate discussion revolving around the ever unclear status of our ancestral line.

However, memory is hazy and me is tired so I won’t pretend to comment further.

My wife took a B.S. degree with a concentration in paleoanthropology, completing it just over four years ago.

Over the course of her studies we came to the rather jaundiced conclusion that…

Every time there is a new discovery a spate of theories comes down the pike. These theories say far more about the prejudices of the paleontologists generating them than they do about the facts of human evolution.

I think we’d have to have far more data than that short abstract gives to draw any conclusions about the Australopithecines and their role vis-a-vis modern man’s ancestry.

In fact, we need far more evidence than is on hand to construct any reasonably based theory. Humanity being what it is, however, we’re gonna keep reasoning on insufficient data until we get that “far more evidence.”

Collounbury, I bet you are right and I just didn’t understand what Phil was talking about at the time. I’ll check back and see if I can find anything.

Polycarp, LOL, yes, I’ve noticed three strong trends: 1.There was just an article published about the differences between Neanderthal and human hands. Pre-publish blurbs were “down” of the poor Neanderthals, discussions, based on what little information came out, were heated, the actual article was so dressed up in measurements and percents it was nearly impossible to read and I haven’t seen a word of discussion since.

  1. Just about everything is announced as the oldest, most original, bound to change all the textbooks (I like that one a lot since it takes years to change texts).

  2. The name of the author may just about tell you the gist of the article, not much info but a lot of his bias.

In spite of all this, it is still fascinating!


From a position of not even reading the press reports about Mungo Man (sorry, I’ve been trying to earn a living) my reaction is a heartfelt “So?”

From what I have seen, the MtDNA evidence shows pretty clearly that all modern humans are descended from one group of early moderns in Africa. “Eve” is not Lucy. MM seems to be not of “Eve’s” lineage; this has no bearing on the position of Lucy’s people in our family tree. And this press report doesn’t even refer to Mungo Man (who is dated IIRC about 60,000 years old), just to another early hominid.

We need more details about the new specimen before we can reach any conclusions. Such as why the Fench think he is a more direct ancestor of genus Homo than the Australopiths are.

Fragmentary evidence sometimes tells more about the interpreters than anything else…

Note to self: Read links and finish at least a second cup of coffee before posting…

Well, as I asked in the first post, “Has anyone been following this?” I guess this hasn’t had much of an impact or inspired much interest. Enough said!

[pours Dr. F. a second cup of coffee retroactively]

You and me together, babe. It’s not Mungo Man, is it? I did a thread Search for it before I realized, too.

Jois, is this it?

So, what do you want to debate? Whether he should have been poaching on Yale’s territory? Whether he should have left Kenya when his hall pass expired? Or whether the fossils do in fact push bipedalism back 2 million years?

Or what? We will keep the Mr. Coffee fully charged and ready to go…


I doubt there is either the knowledge or the interest for a debate in this group on MM and Lucy, but I’ll happily start another thread on LM3. Maybe more interest and knowledge there. Tough in paleoanthro with information coming in so slowly.