Talk:Homo heidelbergensis

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NOT an Ancestor[edit]

"existing in Africa as a part of the operation of the Saharan pump, and not the European forms of Homo heidelbergensis, are thought to be direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens" Can we get some citation on this? Everything I have read and heard about this says the opposite. I've flagged the section for citation and if it's not cited in a few day's I'll look into a rewrite.

Lunarctic 21:58, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Yes, H. sapiens evolved in Africa, not from European H. heidelbergensis. (c.f. Out_of_Africa_theory) Kortoso (talk) 21:08, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

The Heidelbergensis that went to Europe evolved into Neanderthals, but the ones that stayed in Africa evolved in h. Sapiens Dunkleosteus77 (talk) 23:11, 9 April 2015 (UTC)


Also, from what I've been reading and hearing lately, the old "Relay" theory of human evolution has been replaced with the "Melee" theory, outdating a lot of this information, ie; from >1999 many new forms of hominid have been discovered, bringing certain information about our evolution into question. This needs to be considered. All of the referenced sources are from yonks ago, so I'm really uncertain that this article is up to date. As I said, if it's not fixed in a few days I'll talk about a rewrite and probably do it myself :P.

Lunarctic 22:27, 12 July 2007 (UTC)

Many of the hominid fossils from northwest Asia and dating from more recent than 500 000 years ago are considered by some paleo-anthropologists as Homo Heidelbergensis. In other words there could have been a Homo Erectus(Ergaster?) wave of migration into what is now China before or about 1.5 million years and then another wave after 800 000 years of Heidelbergensis from Africa. The article makes no reference to these fossils.

Alexselkirk1704 (talk) 19:20, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

Not on subject?[edit]

An editor recently removed the following passage with an edit summary saying it's not relevant. Please explain. DurovaCharge! 01:01, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

According to the "Recent Out of Africa" theory, similar "Archaic Homo sapiens" found in Africa (ie. Homo sapiens idaltu), existing in Africa as a part of the operation of the Saharan pump, and not the European forms of Homo heidelbergensis, are thought to be direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens. Homo antecessor is likely a direct ancestor living 750,000 years ago evolving into Homo heidelbergensis appearing in the fossil record living roughly 600,000 to 250,000 years ago through various areas of Europe.[citation needed]

Expansion and Inclusion[edit]

I have begun an attempt to make the pages on Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo habilis, and Homo georgicus resemble each other in format and content more closely. I shall try to present each competing interpretation, but have often settled, half-way through the page, on presenting each species as legitimately distinct (while letting readers know, of course). My main concern is that these six pages present many prevalent and valid interpretations but no conformity of tone or content between pages (or sometimes even paragraphs). I shall also try to make conglomerate authorship less detectable between pages, personally editing large chunks using my own tone. I shall attempt, however, to let no personal interpretations of our ancestry interfere with the hypotheses presented. I will not eradicate any additions to these pages' content, obviously, but will attempt to make their voice and presentation uniform. Homo Ergaster (talk) 00:23, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Sounds great, these articles are in drastic need of attention. FunkMonk (talk) 00:32, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Poor Choice of Example[edit]

Not an expert by any means, but how much sense does it make to say of the modern Maori, "...who also rarely threw objects, but used spears..." unless you are intending an unstated distinction between, say, "spears" that are used as stabbing weapons and "spears" that are thrown? Seems to me that if you want to make that distinction it should be made more explicit, particularly as this is cited as an exemplar. Maybe easier to choose a better example. (talk) 08:03, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

Heidelbergensis over 7 feet tall.[edit]

I stumbled across a 2007 interview with Prof. Lee Beger of the Univ. Witwatersrand on the BBC radio program, The Naked Scientists and my jaw dropped when I saw a photograph of the upper half of an archaic human femur, a Heidelbergensis from South Africa.

In the audio podcast Beger says that thing was "more than huge", it was so big they couldn't even calculate how big the person was. And it wasn't an abnormality.

Just a precursory look at that photo really gave me the willies. For starters, though incomplete, I honestly don't see how that thing is any less than 50% larger than the normal sized femur next to it in the picture. I think "over 7 feet tall" may be a rather conservative estimate.

So I added this information to the page. Obviously not all Heidelbergs were giants, but apparently a period of giantism was occuring in Africa for 200,000 years or so.

-- (talk) 01:05, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

First of all, all that media nonsense about calculating size from one or two bones is only an inferrence (see Therrien & Henderson 2007). Additionally, within the great Apes femur length relative to body size varies a lot, even within Hominids it does, and even in extant humans (just compare my daughter and my son..... ). So extrapolating from one bone is not sensible. Second, "I saw/heard someone say.... and there was a picture" is not a good source. By inferrence, Deinonychus would be made an ungulate, because a stupid journalist made a researcher take a fossil of D. out of a nicer-looking cupboard once, which was in the mammals collection...... So what you see in the media may be total nosnense. Are you sure it was a Homo heidelbergensis femur? Who determined that, on the basis of half a femur? That's tricky at best! Or was there more of the skeleton - a skull even? And what about the "femur next to it" - maybe that was a malnourished modern human from China, died in 1905, at a total size of about 5 feet?
I'd be very careful interpreting anything about huge body size into this.
Furthermore, 7 feet isn't that tall, when you take the error bar of extrapolation into account: I'd fall into that range (granted, at the lower end), and so do very many grown males today.
Therrien, F.; and Henderson, D.M. (2007). "My theropod is bigger than yours...or not: estimating body size from skull length in theropods". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27 (1): 108–115. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2007)27[108:MTIBTY]2.0.CO;2 HMallison (talk) 06:43, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Well, I think professor Lee R. Beger might have some decent training in regression and formula estimates for heights of human and hominid bones, especially ones he has found-- He seems to be an eminent and well repsected giant in his field-no pun intended. In the radio interview he says these are "archaic homo sapiens, or as some call them Homo Heidelbergensis." The interviewers ask if the femur he has is just an abnormality, and he says no, because they found "a lot" of bones indicating these people were huge. He stresses to make the point some of them "truly were giants", and that the particular femur in the photograph probably belonged to someone in the height range of a big NBA player, or as Berger says, "something like over 7 feet."

" 7 feet isn't that tall" - I guess that depends on what you want to call tall? 7 feet is an exceedingly rare height, and all the more extraordinary if that was a fairly routine height for some Heidelberg populations, even today it takes one in well over a thousand men to reach seven feet depending on demographic makeup. If calculating size from one or two bones is only inference, fair enough. There is a hell of a lot of inference in the fossil record that makes the news headlines--Let's start with Dubois, hmm how about Homo Floresiensis too?--although at least in that case you have at least some sort of intact skeletons there. The caption on the photo says the skeleton next to the giant femur was that of a "modern South African Female"-- and her hip looks about level with the apparent 3 foot tall counter, which would put her in the 5 ft 6 to 5 ft 7 range -- but that is only my speculation. Let's err on the safe side and assume it was a 5 ft tall malnourished woman from china, using Trotter and Glesser tested mesthods of height extrapolations for mean height and race based on femoral lengths would give us a femur length in the range of around 16.5 inches. If the giant femur is about 50% larger in length, and girth this would indicate a femur about 24.75 inches. Assuming the Heidelbergensis were longer in the leg and shorter in the torso than modern man, this gives us a height range of about 6'11", but if he had a femur/height ratio of a 6 ft Caucasian man, he might be as tall as 7 ft 7.

Any way you chip at it, I can't easily see that femur belonging to a man of much less than 7 feet, and probably significantly above that. But hey, maybe I should contact Mr. Berger to get the specific measurements of that femur joint. I wonder If I can find his home phone number on Zabasearch..... -- (talk) 22:49, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

I guess this wouldn't be an appropriate time to mention the Castelnau giant... yeah never mind. -- (talk) 23:00, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

The Smithsonian's Human Origins page describes these guys a quite petite, i.e., as a compact form adapted to cold climates. I suspect this pages may need updating. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:53, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

It could be that different groups of Heidelbergensis adapted to different climates, representing a range of heights and sizes just as we see in modern man today. Anything from 5 foot people to over 7 foot tall giants. The African Heidelberg bones Prof. Berger mentions in his podcast may have been from a particularly robust population. We have people in Africa today who are over 7 feet tall. -- (talk) 18:19, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

They were so tall that some speculate they might be behind Bigfoot Dunkleosteus77 (talk) 23:12, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

Picture at Morphology and interpretations, really a Homo heidelbergensis?[edit]

What proof do we have that this picture really is representing Homo Heidelbergensis? Where was this picture taken? Also, commentaries at the source given states En realidad ese es un neandertal. which means this is in reality a neanderthal.--Narayan (talk) 19:31, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

The author says that it was an exposition by the Atapuerca Foundation in Asturias. I suppose the Atapuerca Foundation might have put a diorama with all named human species (its Museum of Human Evolution at Burgos has a model of every one from Australopithecus afarensis down after all), but since this was an itinerant exposition it makes sense that it was more limited and only about the species represented in Atapuerca, H. antecessor and H. heidelbergensis. I don't remember which book was, La especie elegida or El collar del neanderthal, where Juan Luis Arsuaga said that they had found H. antecessor, H. heidelbergensis and H. sapiens (in the form of Neolithic burials and a couple of Medieval skeletons) at Atapuerca, and that they only needed to find H. neanderthalensis to have samples of all human species that had inhabited the area for the last one million years.--Menah the Great (talk) 14:57, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

Height redux[edit]

Why does the article still say 6 feet while the Smithsonian says 5 foot 9, as does this site [1]? Shouldn't we just say a range of heights have been suggested from 5'9" to over seven feet? Not surprisingly, it appears no one has done a literature review of published papers (which is where one needs to look for this). Dougweller (talk) 05:29, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

A recent paper has come out suggesting the average Heidelbergensis in Spain were only a few centimeters taller than Neanderthal. The study was based on 27 complete limb bones, the average ht was about 164 cm, about 5 ft 4 1/2 for both males and females, which is similar to modern Mediterranean populations. Taller finds of archaic Homo in Europe and Africa might indicate local variations as can be seen within our own homo sapien populations, i.e tribes in africa commonly have men exceeding 6 sometimes 7 ft. -- (talk) 22:25, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

I think the height study based on these 27 limb bones is still questionable. Some scientists in Paris and Britain are calling into questions some of the dating and interpretations of bones from "La Sima de los Huesos" in Spain, incidentally where all 27 complete limb bones were used in this latest height study of Heidelbergensis. The Guardian reported: Apparently there are arguments that these may not be Heidelbergensis but Neanderthal skeletons, thus making this Heidelbergensis study inaccurate. Further studies from bones in Box Grove Engdland to Germany, and Africa indicate Heidelbergensis was tall, some times very tall, 5 ft 9 to 6 feet (1.75 - 1.82 m) and even taller in South Africa. -- (talk) 21:32, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

Homo heidelbergensis is sometimes called Homo rhodesiensis (see the references in Homo rhodesiensis), but there is a separate article on rhodensiensis which wrongly treats is as a separate species. I therefore propose merging the two articles. Dudley Miles (talk) 19:00, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

  • No merge, not yet at least. There are still some anomalies in the data, such as different datings. Since the fossils are still undergoing study and evaluation, a merge is premature. It's a good call to keep an eye on this, though, to readdress it every so often and remedy it when (and if) it becomes necessary. – PAINE ELLSWORTH CLIMAX! 19:51, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
I'd support a merge once it is sorted out. FunkMonk (talk) 22:31, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

Largely support this, the weight of evidence seems to be on that side, so the two should be discussed together. What would be wrong is the merged article then playing down the possibility of separate species or sub-species. Also, very disconcerted to find 'Archaic Homo sapiens' redirects to Homo rhodesiensis - I'd been looking for an article on early Homo Sapiens compared to Homo Sapiens Idaltu, don't see how that redirect makes sense. Rhillman (talk) 13:40, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

There is a discussion on the wrong redirect at Talk:Homo rhodesiensis#Homo sapiens?. Dudley Miles (talk) 14:22, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
  • No merge for the time being. I agree with User:PAINE ELLSWORTH above. Namely, I believe we should maintain separate Articles until and unless the ICZN officially merges the named species, and then the merged Article could just as easily be titled Homo rhodesiensis as it could be Homo heidelbergensis. It's a 50/50 coin flip depending what ICZN actually decides. We should recall, just as a quick side note, that if the 2 are separate species after all it would push back the common ancestry of Homo sapiens (descendent from H. rhodesiensis) and Homo neanderthalensis (descendent from H. heidelbergensis). It would thus push back Neanderthal/Modern shared ancestry to Homo antecessor if my calculations are correct. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 01:56, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
    • The ICZN has nothing to say here: it decides only on nomenclature (things like: which name gets priority if we decide they represent the same species?) not on taxonomy (do these names actually represent the same species?). If the two names are considered to represent the same species, then, barring unusual circumstances, Homo heidelbergensis Schoutensack, 1908, has priority over Homo rhodesiensis Woodward, 1921. Ucucha (talk) 04:49, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
      • The broader point still stands. What's the name of the commission that decides on taxonomy rather than nomenclature? The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 01:33, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
        • There isn't one. It's scientific consensus. Of course there are bodies that people listen to in specific areas (e.g., the International Ornithological Union for birds), but I don't think there's a highly influential one in paleoanthropology. Ucucha (talk) 05:51, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
            • If the names are synonyms, there is no question Homo heidelbergensis will be the valid one, due to age priority. FunkMonk (talk) 13:45, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
              • Anyway, the main point still stands that whether these names are actually synonyms remains controversial. (To think Homo rhodesiensis, but not Homo heidelbergensis, was controversially thought in some circles to be a subspecies of Homo erectus just a few years ago. Obviously, that controversy must have been resolved for this current one to surface.) Like I said, if these names turn out not to be synonyms, it would push the common ancestry of Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis as far back as Homo antecessor. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 18:33, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
                • Would it be proper at least to describe the controversy in the article? The hoi polloi are not likely to know about this matter unless they see this talk page. Kortoso (talk) 19:18, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
  • No Merge - There are multiple different definitions of heidelbergensis and rhodesiensis. Some researchers use heidelbergensis to refer to early Neanderthals, ancestors of AMH, and the common ancestor of both, others (e.g., Tim D. White) use heidelbergensis to mean early Neanderthals and rhodesiensis to mean ancestors of AMH, and others (e.g., Jean-Jacques Hublin) have argued to discard heidelbergensis and use rhodesiensis to refer to early Neanderthals, ancestors of AMH, and the common ancestor of both. Thegreyanomaly (talk) 18:42, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
You seem uninterested in providing cites to back your conclusions. What about Is Homo heidelbergensis a distinct species? A. Mounier et al. / Journal of Human Evolution 56 (2009). [1]
It's a pretty exhaustive statistical analysis of the subject and shows that "Homo rhodesiensis" and "Homo heidelbergensis" have much more in common morphologically than they do with Neanderthals. Formerly, the names were used simply to represent African and European populations only, which you must admit is a somewhat thin reason for creating species distinction. If there is a significant morphological distinction, I'd like to look at the journal in which it is presented. Kortoso (talk) 21:04, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
That is not a thin reason for creating a division if you think one population lead to humans and the other led to Neanderthals. White et al. (2003)[2] have said that Homo rhodesiensis (i.e., Kabwe and Bodo) can be considered the ancestral to Homo sapiens idaltu (which is in turn ancestral to us), implying that H. rhodesiensis has nothing to do with Neanderthals and really is a chronospecies of Homo sapiens. Thegreyanomaly (talk) 23:31, 17 December 2013 (UTC)


I see little discussion on how H. heidelbergensis and crew got to Europe. Spain, France and England suggest a trans-Mediterranean route. What was the sea level like at that time (600,000-1.3 million years ago)? I thought I recall seeing a Wikipedia article on the topic. Merged and lost? Kortoso (talk) 21:14, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

I think the Mediterranean coastline was not noticeably different at the time. The most accepted theory is local evolution from Eurasian populations of the Homo erectus complex, who would have in turn arrived from Africa via the Middle East. Fewer researchers support a direct migration over the Gibraltar straits (e.g. the partidaries of the Orce Man being real), and even fewer support a migration via Sicily and Italy (I personally know no one, and have seen it listed only as the less likely possibility).--Menah the Great (talk) 14:44, 26 September 2014 (UTC)


The Schöningen section was originally copied and pasted; the links and cites were lost from the original. I restored this. Kortoso (talk) 16:32, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks. I hate it was people do that, and it was also a copyright violation, our material is not public domain and we have to be able to identify the original authors - I've made a null edit and put a link to Schöningen Spears in the edit summary to do that. Dougweller (talk) 17:30, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Denisova hominin[edit]

Lede of this article states that H heid. is "very likely" ancestral to h. neanderthalensis and "perhaps" to the Denisova species. I believe this is NOT the currently accepted thinking. I believe that while there is debate whether Denisova and Neanderthals are two distinct species, and whether they are on the same branch or are 'sister' species, there doesn't seem to be much question that they were closely related - so either they BOTH are "very likely" descendants of H. Heid. or neither are. I think the lede should be changed to correct this minor error, but I'm not sure enough of my facts (and interpretation) to make the change myself. It also mentions Denisova as being located in Central Asia, but DNA from Spain indicates a wider range. (talk) 18:44, 16 September 2014 (UTC)

There's ample doubt and debate as to whether Neanderthal and H sapiens are separate species. (Is Homo heidelbergensis a distinct species? [[3]]) Whether Heidelberg is of the same species or a separate one... well, that's a fine can of worms.
The original (and only) Denisova bone was found in Central Asia, but the Sima de los Huesos H heidelbergensis bones seem to have Denisova DNA.
Would you suggest a re-write based on your sources? Kortoso (talk) 21:11, 16 September 2014 (UTC)
    • ^