> The primary objective of the research is to prove which hypotheses are correct

> The major task begins where the old left off

from paleontology, primatology, genetics, population genetics, and diverse medical sciences and on the other hand from the study of archeology and ethnology.

The great challenge of human evolutionary biology became the cultural factor as adaptations, human migrations, mating systems, population densities, diseases, and human ecology all became factors seen as essential to the explanation of our special human way of life (Washburn 1953; Vogel 1966; Osche 1983; Foley 1987). Washburn's (1953 p 726) prognosis was: "If we would understand the process of human evolution, we need a modern dynamic biology and a deep appreciation of the history and functioning of culture. It is this necessity which gives all anthropology unity as a science.''

The recognizable post-World War II shape of paleoanthropology resulted from the belated acceptance of neo-Darwinian principles of evolutionary biology, which were successively constituted in the 1930s and 1940s and that unified evolutionary biology under a single roof, sweeping away a huge package of mythological narrative thinking (Henke and Rothe 2006). Delisle (1995 p 217) suggested: "... that the evolutionary synthesis directly influenced on human paleontology [during the decade 1950-1960] every day practitioners in human paleontology almost solely through the general concepts and methods of the new systematics. Instead of being only a common core shared by a host of disciplines, the evolutionary synthesis should also be defined by the extent to which that core has been guiding current research in any one field.''

But, was the Modern Synthesis a real step forward in the right direction? Tattersall (2000a p 2) judges this step from an overcritical point of view and comments: "Sadly, however, the Synthesis was doomed to harden, much like a religion, into a dogma: a dogma whose heavy hand continues to oppress the science of human origins a half-century later.'' He gives many arguments for this judgment, e.g., Dobzhansky's lumping of the fossil hominids, with the conclusion "... that there existed no more than a single hominid species at any one time level'' (Dobzhansky 1944 pp 261-262); further there was Mayr's claim that humans did not speciate (Mayr 1950), a position which opened for later proponents the so-called "single-species-hypothesis.'' Finally there came the controversy on "stasis'' versus "punctuated equilibria'' (Eldredge and Gould 1972). Tattersall (2000a p 5) complains that paleoanthropology was laggardly: "Slow to absorb the principles of the Synthesis, palaeoanthropology has been equally slow to augment these principles with recognition of the multifarious complexities of the evolutionary process.''

Is paleoanthropology really a discipline apart from the mainstream of biological thinking, and has the Modern Synthesis really shadowed the scientific work of paleoanthropologists? During the last 50 years, the last vestiges of the so-called "step ladder'' model have been successfully refuted. While the unilinear and anagenetic models vanished from discussion, it became increasingly obvious that the process of human evolution is convincingly shown with multiple species, cladogenesis, and adaptive radiations, as well as the mechanisms and the process of the punctuated equilibrium model. Our current perspective is based on the broad acceptance of multiple species (slogan: "no tree but bushes'') and complexity of hominin diversity form (Cartmill 1990; Henke and Rothe 1994,1999b, 2003).

There are reproaches against the Modern Synthesis as an obsolete theory which was uncritically used to give support for unilinealism, but not all recent protagonists of evolutionary thinking agree with the dichotomous equation "synthesis = unilinealism'' and "multiple species = macroevolution.'' Foley's opposing arguments center on the point that paleoanthropology remained "... in fact [...] blithely innocent of most theoretical issues'' (Foley 2001 p 5). I incline toward Foley's (2005) opinion that the anagenetic models of the 1960s and 1970s owed, firstly, more to presynthesis notions of progress than to a model of adaptive fine-tuning and secondly, that Weidenreich's position often reflected orthogenetic thinking rather than neo-Darwinian models of evolution (Foley 2001 p 6).

Concerning the first point, I would cite Vogel's (1983 p 225) biological perspectives of anthropology and the so-called theory-deficit of the physical anthropology in Germany. He quotes Washburn (1953), who pleaded that the ''... application of a constituent, experimentally verified, evolutionary theory is the first task of the physical anthropologist.'' One should remember that Vogel's paper was presented in 1981, which means that paleoanthropology and in a wider sense physical anthropology remained behind to other evolutionary sciences (Spiegel-Rosing and Schwidetzky 1982). Although paleoanthropology was not the foremost field of anthropological research in Germany, there appeared new editions of Die Evolution der Organismen (Heberer 1959, 1967-1974) and the textbook Menschliche Abstammungslehre (Heberer 1965a, b). In spite of these and other prominent publications in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s (Kurth 1962, 1968; Heberer 1968b; Hofer and Altner 1972; Kurth and Eibl-Eibesfeldt 1975; overviews in Hofifeld 1997, 2005; Henke and Rothe 2006), there remained a theoretical vacuum in anthropology, and anthropology seemed here—as well as in other European countries—much more fossil-driven than hypothesis-guided. Cartmill (1990, p173) claimed in the early 1990s: ''Paleoanthropology should aim at increasing its theoretical content by reducing the list of qualitative human uniquenesses—and eliminating it altogether if possible.'' The evaluation of the scientific reasons that perpetuated inadequate evolutionary approaches in paleoanthropology and caused the complacency with insufficient models is still incompleted. Whether ''... the Synthesis was doomed to harden much like a religion, into dogma as Tattersall claims (2000a p 2), contra Foley (2001), is a continuing issue; but most can agree with the statement that paleoanthropology was not explicitly theoretical but was descriptive and in part excessively narrative (Bowler 1996, 2001; Foley 2001; Ickerodt 2005).

In contrast to the European situation, paleoanthropologists in the USA have traditionally been trained as physical and cultural anthropologists. This caused a different approach to the research in human evolution; in the traditional European system as a rule archeologists dug up the fossils and they themselves or anatomists—not physical anthropologists—described them and perpetuated the problem. The simplicity of the narrative approaches also hampered progress. The idea of human uniqueness was emphasized (Cartmill 1990) and hominin fossils were treated casuistically. Foley (2001 p 7) confesses that it was ''... frustration with the combination of an absence of evolutionary theory in human evolution and assumptions about human uniqueness that led me to write Another Unique Species (Foley 1987).'' His sophisticated approach tries to explain the process of human evolution and the human adaptive strategy as intersection of the biological categories to which hominins (in Foley's original hominids) belong (© Figure 1.7). Although most hominin diversity can be explained by evolutionary changes caused by geographical-climatological factors,

O Figure 1.7

Venn diagram of human uniqueness and the human adaptive strategy as the intersection of the biological categories to which hominins belong (after Foley 1987, modified)

O Figure 1.7

Venn diagram of human uniqueness and the human adaptive strategy as the intersection of the biological categories to which hominins belong (after Foley 1987, modified)

there is a vast explanatory field within the life sciences, particularly comparative primatology, sociobiology, paleoecology, and paleogenetics. The multidiscipli-narity of paleoanthropology is demonstrated in © Figure 1.8, however, without a detailed special ranking concerning the importance of the cooperating disciplines. The preference for cooperation naturally depends on the paleoanthropological

O Figure 1.8

Scientific disciplines that participate in the approach to reconstruct the process of human evolution (after Henke and Rothe 1994)

Zoology Paleontology




Cytogenetics Serology Molecular biology Biochemistry

Osteology Paleopathology

Paleogenetics Paleopopulation genetics

Functional morphology Construction morphology Evolutionary morphology


Ecology Evolutionary ecology


System theory of evolution


Cognitive research Paleoneurology

Botanies Paleobotanies

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