The Origins and Evolution of early Homo

The Origins and Evolution of early Homo


What separates hominins from hominids? (the humans from the apes) One thing is tool use Chimpanzees and other primates use tools, but not to the extent that humans do INTRODUCTION For the rest of the fossils we study (the

genus Homo) we will use the biocultural approach We will look at anatomy and features And we will look at behavior and culture INTRODUCTION

Traditionally there was debate over whether Asia or Africa is the origin of humans When a fossil ancestor skull was found in Asia in the 1800s, people thought that Asia was our birthplace Now we know Africa is, and that our

ancestors migrated out of Africa and around the world EARLIEST ANCESTORS Today we will focus on two of the earliest human ancestors:

Homo habilis Homo erectus SPLITTERS VS LUMPERS Some scientists see each anatomical

difference as valid and make many species Some see lots of variation and group fossils together I am more of a lumper but do split a few things Ex. Paranthropus is its own group FAMILY TREE

We have discussed early primates, the Australopithecines, Paranthropus, and now we move the genus Homo All species in this genus are humanlike; they make tools and are intelligent, but still do not have large brains HOMO HABILIS

HOMO HABILIS Modern humans rely on technology to survive, but our ancestors had to rely on their bodies and brains Fossil skulls were found near Paranthropus but had bigger brains and more human-like trends

Rounder skull Smaller teeth Nonhoning canine TRENDS

We will focus on continuing trends in this genus, but both biological and cultural Biology: Teeth get smaller

Face gets flatter Skull gets rounder HOMO HABILIS HOMO HABILIS

Means Handy Man First hominin known to use stone tools 2 mya Small body, short legs, bidpedal, similar to Australopithecines but slightly larger brains Important: they also had hands that could manipulate tools

HOMO HABILIS: INTELLIGENCE AND TOOL USE Hand: precision grip Brain: slightly larger size (650 cc) Use of reason, strategy, planning Small teeth and weak chewing power show that tools were important for

habilis survival As tools become more important, teeth and chewing muscles get weaker HOMO HABILIS

It is not just about brain size, but also about brain shape Post-orbital constriction shows growth of frontal lobe HOMO HABILIS It is not just about brain size, but also

about brain shape Post-orbital constriction shows growth of frontal lobe HABITAT

Warm season with grasses and diverse habitats Increased food resources increased exploitation of resources Tools would help them exploit land Digging roots and tubers Processing food Possible scavenging

TOOL TECHNIQUE Olduwan tools: Part of the Lower Paleolithic Technique Crude, simple

But show manipulation of materials for specific purpose HOMO ERECTUS A new species appeared 1.8 mya

Finally get a larger brain Large brow ridges Both H. habilis and H. erectus originated in Africa, but some H. erectus migrated to Asia SPLIT? Some split H. erectus and H. ergaster

Fossils found in Africa are ergaster Fossils found in Asia are erectus I will refer to them all as H. erectus HOMO ERECTUS

Important anatomical features: Sagittal keel: bump on top of skull because brain is asymmetrical Wide part of skull is at the base: mushroom-shaped head


Teeth small Small brain Small browridge Small body Long arms Short legs Homo erectus

Teeth smaller Larger brain Larger browridge Tall body Shorter arms

Longer legs HOMO ERECTUS IN AFRICA Earliest record is about 1.8 mya Nariokotome Boy/Turkana Boy: full skeleton that shows modern anatomy (*in video*)

Longer legs means this was a true biped (no more utilizing trees) Adolescent male who would have been more than 6 feet tall 900 cc brain

NARIOKOTOME BOY HOMO ERECTUS IN ASIA Began to migrate soon after evolving in Africa

First fossil is Dmanisi skull, found in the Republic of Georgia Zhoukoudian in China HOMO ERECTUS IN ASIA Widespread migration through Asia

Survived for more than 1 million years, so very successful One skull found has marks on bone: either cannibalism or body modification FIRE H. erectus is the first hominin thought

to have used fire Benefits: Keep warm Stay safe (scar away predators)

Cook food (fewer parasites and easier to chew) Cooking food also releases more nutrients Extend daylight (more time for cultural behaviors) ADAPTATIONS

From H. habilis to H. erectus, males heights increased 33% and females 37% in 200,000 years Much of this probably because of increase in animal protein ADAPTATIONS However, there is debate over whether erectus was a scavenger or a hunter

Keep this in mind when watching video and doing extra credit The video discusses exhaustion hunting

The tools they made were not hunting weapons So they were scavengers (at least at first), and then became hunters TOOL TECHNIQUE Acheulian tools

Still Lower Paleolithic More complex than habilis Handaxe: sharp edge for cutting and scraping (good for scavengers) More refined: showed higher level of skill

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