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Visualizing Human Evolution with a New Ancient Human Species

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A New Member of Human Evolution

The next step in understanding human evolution has brought forth the reclassification of some old names.

Mirjana Roksandic, Predrag Radovic, and their team of researchers propose a new human species called Homo bodoensis.

H. bodoensis isn’t a discovery of new fossils but a re-examination of old ones. This reclassification is an attempt to clean up long-standing confusion about our ancestors and how humans evolved.

The Muddle in the Middle

The Middle Pleistocene was a period spanning 780,000 to 126,000 years ago and had a lot of different human species existing at the time. These species included:

  • European Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis)
  • Asian Denisovans
  • African Homo heidelbergensis
  • African Homo rhodesiensis
  • African Homo erectus

The Middle Pleistocene was a lively time for human evolution, as it eventually spawned our species, Homo sapiens. Despite this bountiful presence of activity, our knowledge of human evolution during this age is lacking. This problem is known as “the Muddle in the Middle.”

Age-Old Thinking about Human Evolution

Human fossils from the Middle Pleistocene in Africa and Eurasia are usually classified as either Homo heidelbergensis or Homo rhodesiensis.

Homo heidelbergensis

H. heidelbergensis is an extinct species of human whose first fossil was found in a gravel pit in Germany in 1907. Since then, new-found fossils that did not fit the classification criteria of Neanderthals, H. sapiens, or the older H. erectus have been classified as H. heidelbergensis.

Roksandic and her team argue that this ‘lumping’ is a misattribution that muddles our understanding of which species H. sapiens originated from.

In addition, newer DNA evidence suggests that some H. heidelbergensis fossils from Europe originated from early Neanderthals. The name is, thus, redundant.

Homo rhodesiensis

Some believe that H. rhodesiensis is an extinct species of humans and the most recent ancestor of H. sapiens and Neanderthals.

Despite its importance, it never gained popularity in the paleoanthropology communities. This is because of its poor definition, but Roksandic supports its removal because it is also an alleged namesake to Rhodesia’s violent and aggressive colonizer, Cecil Rhodes.

It was high time for both H. heidelbergensis and H. rhodesiensis to go.

Homo bodoensis and What Changes in Human Evolution

Roksandic and her team suggest dissolving the two species to introduce a new merged species, H. bodoensis. The name derives from a 600,000-year-old skull discovered in 1976 in Bodo D’ar, Ethiopia.

All fossils previously classified as H. heidelbergensis and H. rhodesiensis originating in Africa are reclassified as H. bodoensis. As such, this now makes H. bodoensis our direct ancestor.

Fossils from Western Europe are reclassified as H. neanderthalensis to reflect the early appearance of Neanderthal-like traits. Asian fossils, like those from China, may belong to a different lineage.

A Doubted Legacy?

Despite its merits, not everyone agrees with this new proposal.

Renowned anthropologist Chris Stringer from the Natural History Museum of London says that the reshuffling of species is unnecessary.

While he agrees that the name H. heidelbergensis is used too loosely and should be confined to a few select fossils, he is happy to continue using H. rhodesiensis. He argues its namesake comes from the country, not from Cecil Rhodes himself.

In addition, Stinger says there are a variety of other species names to choose from before creating a new one. If H. rhodesiensis must be renamed, species like Homo saldanensis, named by Matthew Drennan in the 1950s from a fossilized skull, should take precedence.

Roksandic and her team reclassified H. saldanensis into H. bodoensis.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Politics

Mapped: 2024 Global Elections by Country

It’s election year around the world, and this map of 2024 global elections by country shows just how many people will be impacted.

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2024 global elections map

Mapping 2024 Global Elections by Country

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

With almost half of the world’s population residing in countries holding executive or legislative elections in 2024, it’s set to be the busiest election year ever recorded.

This visualization uses collated 2024 global elections data from our 2024 Global Forecast Series as well as from Time, while country populations are taken from Worldometer as of January 2024.

Countries Holding 2024 Elections Around the World

Many people are already aware of the U.S. presidential and legislative elections set to be held on November 5th, especially due to American influence on the global political stage and media coverage.

But two governments affecting larger populations, India and the European Union, are also slated to have elections in 2024.

Below, we sort the countries expected to hold elections in 2024 by population (countries with no set election date yet have been marked “N/A”):

CountryElection DateTypePopulation
🇮🇳 IndiaN/ALegislative1,428,627,663
🇪🇺 European Union6/6/2024Legislative448,387,872
🇺🇸 United States11/5/2024Executive & Legislative339,996,563
🇮🇩 Indonesia2/14/2024Executive & Legislative277,534,122
🇵🇰 Pakistan2/8/2024Legislative240,485,658
🇧🇩 Bangladesh1/7/2024Legislative172,954,319
🇷🇺 Russia3/15/2024Executive144,444,359
🇲🇽 Mexico6/2/2024Executive & Legislative128,455,567
🇮🇷 Iran3/1/2024Legislative89,172,767
🇬🇧 UKN/ALegislative67,736,802
🇿🇦 South Africa5/29/2024Legislative60,414,495
🇰🇷 South Korea4/10/2024Legislative51,784,059
🇩🇿 AlgeriaN/AExecutive45,606,480
🇺🇦 Ukraine3/31/2024Executive36,744,634
🇺🇿 UzbekistanN/ALegislative35,163,944
🇬🇭 Ghana12/7/2024Executive & Legislative34,121,985
🇲🇿 Mozambique10/9/2024Executive & Legislative33,897,354
🇲🇬 MadagascarN/ALegislative30,325,732
🇻🇪 VenezuelaN/AExecutive28,838,499
🇰🇵 North KoreaN/ALegislative26,160,821
🇹🇼 Taiwan1/13/2024Executive & Legislative23,923,276
🇲🇱 MaliN/AExecutive23,293,698
🇸🇾 SyriaN/ALegislative23,227,014
🇱🇰 Sri LankaN/AExecutive & Legislative21,893,579
🇷🇴 RomaniaN/AExecutive & Legislative19,892,812
🇹🇩 ChadN/AExecutive18,278,568
🇸🇳 Senegal12/15/2024Executive17,763,163
🇰🇭 Cambodia2/25/2024Legislative16,944,826
🇷🇼 Rwanda7/15/2024Executive & Legislative14,094,683
🇹🇳 TunisiaN/AExecutive12,458,223
🇧🇪 Belgium6/9/2024Legislative11,686,140
🇯🇴 JordanN/ALegislative11,337,052
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic5/19/2024Executive & Legislative11,332,972
🇸🇸 South SudanN/AExecutive & Legislative11,088,796
🇨🇿 CzechiaN/ALegislative10,495,295
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan2/7/2024Executive10,412,651
🇵🇹 Portugal3/10/2024Legislative10,247,605
🇧🇾 Belarus2/25/2024Legislative9,498,238
🇹🇬 Togo4/20/2024Legislative9,053,799
🇦🇹 AustriaN/ALegislative8,958,960
🇸🇻 El Salvador2/4/2024Executive & Legislative6,364,943
🇸🇰 Slovakia3/23/2024Executive5,795,199
🇫🇮 Finland1/28/2024Executive5,545,475
🇲🇷 Mauritania6/22/2024Executive4,862,989
🇵🇦 Panama5/5/2024Executive & Legislative4,468,087
🇭🇷 Croatia9/22/2024Executive & Legislative4,008,617
🇬🇪 Georgia10/26/2024Executive & Legislative3,728,282
🇲🇳 Mongolia6/28/2024Legislative3,447,157
🇲🇩 MoldovaN/AExecutive3,435,931
🇺🇾 Uruguay10/27/2024Executive & Legislative3,423,108
🇱🇹 Lithuania5/12/2024Executive & Legislative2,718,352
🇧🇼 BotswanaN/ALegislative2,675,352
🇳🇦 NamibiaN/AExecutive & Legislative2,604,172
🇬🇼 Guinea BissauN/AExecutive2,150,842
🇲🇰 North Macedonia5/8/2024Executive & Legislative2,085,679
🇲🇺 Mauritius11/30/2024Legislative1300557
🇰🇲 Comoros1/14/2024Executive852,075
🇧🇹 Bhutan1/9/2024Legislative787,424
🇸🇧 Solomon Islands4/17/2024Legislative740,424
🇲🇻 Maldives3/17/2024Legislative521,021
🇮🇸 Iceland6/1/2024Executive375,318
🇰🇮 KiribatiN/AExecutive & Legislative133,515
🇸🇲 San MarinoN/ALegislative33,642
🇵🇼 Palau11/12/2024Executive & Legislative18,058
🇹🇻 Tuvalu1/26/2024Legislative11,396

A few notable elections have already occurred. Taiwan held general elections on January 13th, with the more anti-China Democratic Progressive Party retaining the presidency but losing its majority in the legislature.

Pakistan also held elections on February 8th, with former Prime Minster Imran Khan’s party and affiliates winning a plurality of seats but losing power to a military-backed coalition.

Pakistan’s election results were cast into doubt by foreign observers and media, with Khan having been arrested and sentenced to prison on corruption charges. It is far from the only country holding controversial and potentially undemocratic elections in 2024.

Bangladesh’s landslide January 7th elections were boycotted by the opposition and voters, and Russia’s March 15th elections had three anti-war presidential candidates barred from competing, including Alexei Navalny before his controversial death in February.

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