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The Origin of Homo sapiens in the Light of Different Research Methods

Human Evolution
The Origin of Homo sapiens in the Light of Different Research Methods
Jacek Tomczyk

The origins of Homo sapiens is a central issue of modern paleoanthropology. The available fossil material serves as a basis for postulating different hypotheses and models, but as is widely appreciated, anthropologists have yet to reach a consensus about human origins. It seems possible that the main reasons behind such an irreducible divergence of opinions are different methodological approaches rather than the analyses of fossil material. Some scientists would say that it is the fragmentary nature of fossil material which accounts for the debates about the origins of H. sapiens. Had the debate been only a matter of the empirical considerations many disagreements concerning H. sapiens would have probably disappeared long ago. But since the controversies are imbued in methodological reality the closure of the debate is not to be expected soon. There are three research methods: morphological, archaeological and genetic. Each approach has a specific definition of H. sapiens at its disposal, which largely accounts for the different scenarios for the origin of our species. Any debate concerning this problem must therefore begin with a discussion about the research methods. The controversy about our origins thus appears to be of secondary importance. The present paper aims at presenting the methodological controversy in relation to the origins of H. sapiens. The discussion about the genealogy of H. sapiens certainly is in urgent need of a new, more integrated way of approaching the past.