Those who walk among us
By Gary Davis
An older definition of a species is “the largest group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring” (1). It can be difficult to decide to which species an organism belongs, and especially so in the context of “cryptic species” in which individual organisms in related, but different species, are very similar in appearance (see, e.g. 2,3,4).
Human evolution is a commonly accepted aspect of evolution (5), and several people have speculated whether there is a new human species that we haven’t noticed. See, e.g. (6) in which Nye discusses the possibility and likelihood of a “Homo superius” walking among us. Nye assumes that such a new species would have to “outcompete” Homo sapiens, rather than live side by side as in a cryptic species.
Is it possible that such a cryptic species of humans already exists? I like to imagine there is, and my bet is on “Homo systemicus”, whose most characteristic trait is to be able to think fluently and flexibly about issues and problems at a systemic level, rather than simply through the levels of examples. I suspect Alexander Grothendieck (7), for example, might have belonged to a postulated species Homo systemicus.