Quote: Louis Leakey on "man" versus "human"

Louis Leakey, participating in a conference organized by Sherwood Washburn, called “Classification and Human Evolution”, prefaced his contribution with a saucy footnote:

The title chosen for this symposium is, in itself, an example of the muddle that scientists have got into in relation to primate taxonomy. I feel bound to ask just what the word "human" means in this context? The adjective "human" seems to me to be even less well defined than the noun "man." Is "human" used here to signify the Hominoidea or the Hominidae, or the Hominini, or none of these terms?

OK, I guess that’s about as “saucy” as taxonomy gets. But I like the “even less well defined” than “man”. And of course the confusion of Hominini, Hominina, Hominoidea, Hominidae, and the rest has gotten worse, not better.

See also: my article on PhyloCode and human taxonomy.

Leakey LSB. 1963. East African fossil Hominoidea and the classification within this super-family. Pp. 32-49 in Washburn SL, ed., Classification and human evolution. Routledge, New York.