Monday, March 10, 2008

A new species of humans?

We've blogged many a time before about a question philosophers and ethicists love to debate about: What does it mean to be 'human'? Now, thousands of human-like bones belonging to numerous individuals have been discovered in the Pacific island nation of Palau, that paleoanthropologist Lee Berger describes as "pushing the published boundaries of human variation."

According to National Geographic, "The remains are between 900 and 2,900 years old and align with Homo sapiens, according to a paper on the discovery. However, the older bones are tiny and exhibit several traits considered primitive, or archaic, for the human lineage."

The full article can be seen here and the video of Lee Berger and his finds can be seen here.

A few years ago, the bones of what have dubbed Homo floresiensis or "hobbits' were found in Indonesia in 2004 and the debate of whether those hominids were 'human' is still raging on. This new find will certainly add fuel to the fire of the debate of whether or not 'humans' are exclusively Homo sapiens.

The question, it seems to me, is do what want a more inclusive notion of what humanity means? Or a more exclusive notion?

If it is a more exclusive notion, then let me quote Groucho Marx: "I'm not sure I'd want to be member of a club that would have me as a member."

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