A face for Lucy's ancestor

The key paragraph being -

The MRD cranium, together with other fossils previously known from the Afar, show that A. anamensis and A. afarensis co-existed for approximately 100,000 years. This temporal overlap challenges the widely-accepted idea of a linear transition between these two early human ancestors. Haile-Selassie said: “This is a game changer in our understanding of human evolution during the Pliocene.”

Doesn’t this make the heading of the article a little deceptive?.. Because this creature was not Lucy’s ancestor.

Better: There’s no way to tell if this creature was or wasn’t Lucy’s ancestor.


Likewise, we don’t know if either were actually human ancestors or relatives of human ancestors.


Strange that stuff like this never gets printed…

I find it difficult to believe that the reporters add this “spin” of ancestry on their own.

Why would it need to be printed? If you understand the science, it’s obvious that (with possibly rare exceptions) we cannot directly determine ancestry from fossils. But a fossil doesn’t have to be directly ancestral to demonstrate transitional characteristics that are relevant for understanding human evolution.


For the sake of full disclosure.

It’s not a very difficult concept to explain.

Look at this article. Even the headline is a lie. What does that do to building confidence in the accuracy of the report?

I’m not sure what “disclosure” you’re referring to, but I agree that it would be nice if science journalism (and the press releases that their articles are frequently based on) were more consistently of high quality.


Most science journalism is garbage. Especially anthropology. Everyone in the community is sick of it.

Also, I don’t see how temporal overlap challenges a lineal relationship. But oh well.


The headline it not a lie though.

That’s true. University publicity departments also have a hand in it. I suspect it’s not just because they don’t understand the facts (thought that’s probably true); they probably also think you’re not smart enough to understand the facts, so they dumb it way down. We may hope they’re wrong.

It’s not a lie if they believe it. And what do you mean “even”? What else is false?

Please explain.

The article is about an artist who has made busts of many human ancestors. He made a bust, recently, based on this new find. That new bust is the “face” to which the article is referring.

How is that a “lie”?

Well, for one thing, there’s no way to tell if the various hominins he made busts of are human ancestors. Phylogenetics does not reveal ancestry, just common ancestry.

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There is a new face in John Gurche’s renderings of the human family tree. Perhaps there are more precise ways of saying it, but there is no lie here.

Why not a lie? Because the artist doesn’t know it isn’t true?

Would “factually incorrect” suffice?

If so, pls read it as such.