Way OT Lee Burger and Hemo naledi

Lee Burger talks about finding Hemo naledi.
(Oh, just replace the “e” with “o”. Don’t judge me, judge TMFs unacceptable word AI.)

IMO, this is fascinating, and Burger is a great story teller.

Beginning 1:30:00, Burger has some evidence based comments for how these digs might change our (Hemo Sapiens) understanding of evolution, and how “special” we, modern humans, really are.

The scientific community is NOT 100% convinced.



Speaking as a Ph.D. Biological Anthropologist, one of the unfortunate aspects of studies of fossil man is that there is a terrible tendency … there since the beginning … to find that every slightly new specimen “changes the story completely”. This is reinforced by a tendency among many toward “splitting” in their taxonomies, i.e., lots of little subdivisions, rather than “lumping”, i.e., grouping into a few comprehensive divisions and recognizing that there is significance variation within groups. You may recognize a certain parallel to attitudes about race.

As an unabashed lumper … a position I feel is amply justified by DNA proof that modern humans, Neandertals, and Denisovans all interbred … I find that much is learned by looking for common patterns rather than distinguishing features.


Reductionism is a prominent feature of physics which has served science well but which needs not apply to complex systems. It’s difficult if at all possible to reduce emergent properties to their component parts. As a biologist, Stuart Kauffman has stressed this point of view.

“Changed forever” is a stupid emphasizer. Another I really dislike is “You know!” No, I don’t, If I did I would not need to listen to you.

Um. You know. Like. It would change thing forever.

Nine words which omitted would increase the signal to noise ratio.

The Captain

1 Like

The problem space in fossil man studies is extremely complex, covering millions of year, much of the globe, but with extremely limited samples from any time or place. This makes it real easy for someone to look at two specimens, notice that they are quite different, and then declare them to be two species when, in fact, they might be separated in time or place or both, which accounts for the difference, or even simply be covered by the variation with populations. And, of course, for much of history, we were in small population clusters moderately isolated from adjacent populations, a set up ripe for dramatic variation between populations.

My dissertation was a new form of multivariate analysis designed to analyze shape variation due to size. My sample was chimpanzee and gorilla skulls over a fairly wide area. The shape variation from a particularly gracile female Chimp at one end and a particularly robust male Gorilla on the other end was very dramatic … one would hardly think they were related. And yet the full spectrum of variation was exhibited across the full sample and the primary explaining factor for that variation was size. I.e., essentially the same genetic factors expressing themselves differently based on size. Indeed, while I expected the second explaining factor to be sex, it wasn’t. Sex determined size. The second explaining factor was location, i.e., specimens from close proximity tended to look alike.


[quote=“rainphakir, post:1, topic:96504”]
IMO, this is fascinating, and Burger is a great story teller.

Netflix has a documentary which is good. The big take away, Naledi buried their dead and went to an extreme way to do so. So raised the questions about “being human” and self awareness.


1 Like