Someone named Laura, who identifies herself as being an editor at the Smithsonian Magazine, left a comment on my post about their mix-up of hominid pictures in a paleoanthropology time line published in the March edition of the magazine and I figured I’d move it up to post level where more people would likely see it:
Troy, thanks for your post about Ann Gibbons’ story on Hominid Evolution in Smithsonian. I’m an editor there who worked on the story. We decided whenever possible to use images that would be easy for readers to understand. The timeline, especially, had to show many small images of specimens that some of our readers are reluctant to consider their ancestors. For Java Man, we did go with the more complete skull from the same place and species. We’re trying to figure out what happened with the Neanderthal image–the source we used labeled it as Neanderthal, but your comparison with Turkana Boy makes a good case. We’ll let you know if we figure out where the photo was taken and which specimen it shows.
First let me say thank you Laura for responding on this.
Regarding the Java Man thing, as I admitted in my post, I was perhaps being a bit nit-picky, and I don’t consider the switch from one Indonesian Homo erectus skull to another to be too much of a problem. However swapping out a H. ergaster (from Africa) for a H. neanderthalensis (mostly European) is obviously a different matter. And while I am not a paleoanthropologist and while I don’t even play one on the interwebs, I’ll bet you a years subscription to your magazine that you’ll find that the picture that was used to show a Neanderthal is instead a photo of the Turkana Boy.
Funny how I don’t get this sort of response from the antievolutionists who I catch making much larger mistakes than this (and I know some of them read this blog). Ah well…
I think that’s a bet you’d win, Troy. I agree the pictured specimen looks a LOT like the Turkana Boy. Even if it isn’t, though, I don’t see how it could be a Neandertal. Every Neandertal skull I know of has thick brow-ridges and a domed braincase, giving a noticeable forehead. I don’t see any brow-ridges at all on that skull, and the braincase has almost no dome to it.