The Importance of Species Taxa in Paleoanthropology and an Argument for the Phylogenetic Concept of the Species Category

  • William H. Kimbel
  • Yoel Rak
Part of the Advances in Primatology book series (AIPR)


Paleoanthropology attempts to describe the diversity of extinct primate forms, to interpret this diversity in a phylogenetic framework based on the distribution of shared evolutionary novelties, and to explain the emergence and transformation of novelties in terms of a positive causal relationship between changes in structure/function and enhanced organismal fitness (i.e., adaptation). These components may be viewed as a sequence of steps toward a “complete” explanation of evolutionary change, each step logically contingent on those preceding it. Thus, hypotheses seeking to explain the adaptive basis of evolutionary morphological change necessarily depend on the prior acceptance of a hypothesis of vectored phylogenetic change. In turn, a phylogenetic hypothesis must be grounded in some theoretical concept of the units of diversity, among which the pattern of phylogenetic relationships is sought.


Sexual Dimorphism Fossil Record Species Concept Biological Species Concept Phyletic Lineage 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • William H. Kimbel
    • 1
  • Yoel Rak
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Human OriginsBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy, Sackler Faculty of MedicineTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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