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Pairwise difference analysis in modern human origins research

Collard, M.; Franchino, N.; (2002) Pairwise difference analysis in modern human origins research. Journal of Human Evolution , 43 (3) pp. 323-352. 10.1006/jhev.2002.0578.

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Abstract

Pairwise difference analysis is a phenetic method that groups taxa on the basis of the number of differences they exhibit. Recently, pairwise difference analysis has been used to investigate the phylogenetic relationships of hominid fossils at the centre of the modern human origins debate. It has been argued that the results of these analyses disprove the African replacement model of modern human origins, and support instead its competitor, the multiregional evolution model. However, this inference is problematic because the ability of pairwise difference analysis to recover phylogenetic information from morphological data has not been demonstrated. With this in mind, we conducted pairwise difference analyses of craniodental and soft tissue evidence from a group of extant primates for which a reliable molecular phylogeny is available, the hominoids. We found that the phylogenies yielded by the pairwise difference analyses were incompatible with the molecular phylogeny for the group. Given the robustness of the molecular phylogeny, these results suggest that pairwise difference analysis cannot be relied on to generate reliable estimates of primate phylogeny from morphological data. The corollary of this is that the results of published pairwise difference analyses of hominid fossils are not informative regarding the origin of modern humans.

Type:Article
Title:Pairwise difference analysis in modern human origins research
DOI:10.1006/jhev.2002.0578
Publisher version:http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jhev.2002.0578
Language:English
Keywords:Modern human origins, pairwise difference analysis, hominoid, primate, hominid, craniodental, soft tissue, morphology
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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