U of W prof names new species

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A paleoanthropologist at the University of Winnipeg is responsible for naming a new species: the Homo bodoensis, the direct ancestor of humans who lived in Africa around half a million years ago.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2021 (284 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A paleoanthropologist at the University of Winnipeg is responsible for naming a new species: the Homo bodoensis, the direct ancestor of humans who lived in Africa around half a million years ago.

In a release Thursday, the U of W announced Prof. Mirjana Roksandic has led an international research team that unveiled the title in the hopes of bringing clarity to the puzzling era of evolution titled the Chibanian (formerly known as the Middle Pleistocene).

It was during that geologic period, between 774,000 and 129,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens and Neanderthals emerged.

Martin Meissner / The Associated Press files The Homo bodoensis name is based on a reassessment of fossils from the Chibanian era.

The new classification is anticipated to describe most humans from Africa, as well as some from southeast Europe, during the era. At the same time, species who lived elsewhere will be reclassified as Neanderthals.

“Talking about human evolution during this time period became impossible due to the lack of proper terminology that acknowledges human geographic variation,” said Roksandic, lead author of Resolving the “muddle in the middle”: The case for Homo bodoensis, in the release.

The new name is based on a reassessment of fossils from Africa and Eurasia from the Chibanian era. The fossils had previously been assigned as either Homo heidelbergensis and Homo rhodesiensis, but the new study, released Thursday, deems those terms ambiguous and misleading.

The authors argue the new terminology cuts through the “obfuscating and inconsistent” use of improperly named and defined primates and will facilitate more consistent discussion on the topics.

Roksandic said new species names are a big deal, given the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature has strict rules. “We are confident that this one will stick around for a long time, a new taxon name will live only if other researchers use it,” she added.

The term bodoensis derives from a skull found in Bodo D’ar, Ethiopia.

History

Updated on Friday, October 29, 2021 6:17 AM CDT: Adds photo

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