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Thread: Is the term "homo sapiens" a misnomer?

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    Senior Member Rassenpapst's Avatar
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    Is the term "homo sapiens" a misnomer?

    The UNESCO statement on race which was published in 1952 included an interesting dissenting commentary by prof. Fritz Lenz:

    “If an unprejudiced scientist were confronted with a West-African Negro, an Eskimo and a North-West European, he could hardly consider them to belong to the same ‘species’. Numerous ‘good’ species by no means reveal such considerable differences. Only one thing is certain: all men belong to the same genus. The possibility
    of fertile crossing is not a conclusive criterion of a common stock. Many species of plants and animals produce, through artificial crossbreeding, fertile and readily mendelizing hybrid offspring and are nevertheless true species.

    “As far as I am aware, neither African pygmies nor Bushmen interbreed with Negroes or with Europeans; thus, owing to their natural instincts and their habits, they are physiologically isolated. It would no doubt be possible to crossbreed them artificially with other races, but that would be no proof that they belong to a common stock.

    “111 my opinion, the term Homo sapiens, which is used in Section 1, is a misnomer. As is well known, it was invented by Linnaeus, who did not however give any
    diagnosis or description of his Homo sapiens. On the other hand, he gave diagnoses of several human species which he recognized as such (flominum species) nnd
    to which he gave binary name,s. Thus, even from the historical point of view, the term Homo sapiens is unjustifiable.

    It seems to me that the term ‘species’ cannot be appropriately applied to the whole of mankind, though I will not maintain dogmatically that there are different human species.
    http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/000...3/073351eo.pdf

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    I wish people would pay attention to this quote. It goes right to the heart of the species concept in biology. If two populations do not interbreed, IN NATURE, and exhibit other areas of differences (like how they make a living) then they may be considered separate species disregarding any artificial tests of fertility. Examples: lion-tiger, cattle-bison, dog-wolf.

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    Basques are on the verge of speciation if I remember correctly.

    EDIT: I am looking for the source.

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