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Evolutionary tree-phylogenies can be constructed only with those species that are recognized. Currently, the group of recognized hominid species is substantially incomplete. Some argue existing fossils may represent species other than those already formally named. The probable incompleteness of the fossil record should be borne in mind whenever a diagram is offered as hypothesis of the hominid phylogeny. Robert Martin recently calculated about 6000 primate species have ever existed The 183 living primate represent 3% of the total. The family trees constructed today probably have half their branches missing.
A sophisticated new examination of teeth from 11 Neanderthal and early human fossils shows that modern humans are slower than our ancestors to reach full maturity. The finding suggests that our slow development and long childhood are recent and unique to our own species, and may have given early humans an evolutionary advantage over Neanderthals. The research, led by scientists at Harvard University, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology (MPI-EVA), and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), is detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
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JoVE Bioengineering focuses on techniques in which the principles of engineering, mathematics and physics are applied to problems associated with the life sciences.
This ScienceLives article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.