Link: William King, namer of Homo neanderthalensis

Paige Madison looks into the history of William King, a nineteenth-century geologist at Queens College in Galway, Ireland, who first published a name for the Neandertals as a species separate from living humans: Homo neanderthalensis: “The First to Name a New Hominin Species: Remembering William King”.

This is the first time a scientist ever looked at a fossil and thought to himself, this looks vaguely human but also very different–therefore it should be another species. A huge moment in the history of the study of human evolution. And, of course it’s worth mentioning that the name still sticks today. It’s also worth noting that King made interesting pronouncements on the fossil’s intelligence in his claims that it could not be human, stating that “the thoughts and desires which once dwelt within [the cranium] never soared beyond those of a brute.” A characterization of the stupid, brutish Neanderthal that we still have not shaken today.