“Who were the Denisovans anyway?”. This compelling and (to me) instantly attractive question was the title of today’s post on the consistently interesting blog called Twilight Beasts. And of course I clicked to read, and to my even greater delight, found a new and unfamiliar word. It’s “hominin” and it’s a good one.
Looking back, I seem to recall having seen this word a time or two before and just read over it, assuming it was a typo and the author meant “hominid”. But Twilight Beasts is well written and edited, so I took a chance and plugged “hominin” into my search engine. And yep, new word. (I found a basic working definition of the word “hominin” and an interesting discussion of its recent origins here.)
So from now on, I will try use hominin properly to describe all primate beings who walk upright and are members of genuses like Homo and Australopithecus. As in “The hominins living in the Knotted Rope Universe include baseline humans (Homo sapiens) the Valley People (Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis), the Easterners, (Homo erectus orientalis) and the sasquatch or yeti (classified as Australopithicus robustus sapiens, Australopithicus boisei sapiens, or Paranthropus boisei sapiens, depending on who you ask). And maybe the Almas or red ape, because I think it might be interesting to write about hominins who are not fully sentient.”
The Easterners are my own take on the Denisovans, who I am interpreting as a long surviving and very well adapted holdover population of Homo erectus, with small amounts of DNA from sapiens and neanderthalensis. They are, of course, completely fictional, but I was still glad that the answer to “who were the Denisovans anyway?” was not “completely unlike your idea”. I may be making things up, but I am on the right track.
For more about the ever fascinating topic of my favorite hominin, including some beautiful images of recent reconstructions showing what Homo erectus people might look like in life, click here to read “Ancient faces and the man from Java” elsewhere on this blog.