The pliocene hominin diversity conundrum: Do more fossilsmean less clarity?

Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Stephanie M. Melillo, Denise F. Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Recent discoveries of multiple middle Pliocene hominins have raised the possibility that early hominins were as speciose as later hominins. However, debates continue to arise around the validity of most of these new taxa, largely based on poor preservation of holotype specimens, small sample size, or the lack of evidence for ecological diversity. A closer look at the currently available fossil evidence from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Chad indicate that Australopithecus afarensis was not the only hominin species during the middle Pliocene, and that there were other species clearly distinguishable from it by their locomotor adaptation and diet. Although there is no doubt that the presence of multiple species during the middle Pliocene opens new windows into our evolutionary past, it also complicates our understanding of early hominin taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6364-6371
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 7 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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