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Becoming Human. Human vs. Chimpanzee. Robust Australopithecines ( Paranthropus ). Gracile Australopithecines . Homo Habilis vs. Homo Rudolphensis. Homo erectus (ergaster). Homo idaltu (160,000 years ago). Homo Neanderthal ensis vs. Homo sapiens. Human Evolution.

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Becoming Human

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human evolution
Human Evolution

(A) Pan troglodytes, chimpanzee, modern(B) Australopithecus africanus, STS 5, 2.6 My(C) Australopithecus africanus, STS 71, 2.5 My(D) Homo habilis, KNM-ER 1813, 1.9 My(E) Homo habilis, OH24, 1.8 My(F) Homo rudolfensis, KNM-ER 1470, 1.8 My(G) Homo erectus, Dmanisi cranium D2700, 1.75 My

(H) Homo ergaster (early H. erectus), KNM-ER 3733, 1.75 My(I) Homo heidelbergensis, "Rhodesia man," 300,000 - 125,000 y(J) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, La Ferrassie 1, 70,000 y(K) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, La Chappelle-aux-Saints, 60,000 y(L) Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, Le Moustier, 45,000 y(M) Homo sapiens sapiens, Cro-Magnon I, 30,000 y(N) Homo sapiens sapiens, modern

darwin the missing link
Darwin & the missing link



  • Charles Darwin
    • “Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of certain number of facts will certainly reject my theory”
    • On the origin of species, 1859
evolution of bipedalism
Evolution of Bipedalism
  • Anatomical changes
    • Neck (1), chest (2), lower back (3), hips and pelvis (4), thighs (5), knees (6), feet (7)
  • Theories
    • Tool use and bipedalism (Darwin/Washburn)
    • Energy efficiency and bipedalism (Isbell/Young)
    • Radiator theory (Falk)
    • Body temperature and bipedalism (Wheeler)
    • Habitat variability and bipedalism (Potts)
    • Reproduction and bipedalism (Lovejoy)
    • Canine reduction and bipedalism (Jolly)

hominin evolution
Hominin Evolution
  • Ardipithecus ramidus 4.4 - ? mya
  • A. anamensis 4.2 - 3.9
  • A. afarensis 4.2 - 2.5
  • A. bahrelghazali 3.5 - 3.0
  • A. africanus 3.5 - 2.5
  • P. aethiopicus 2.7 - 2.3
  • A. garhi 2.5 - ?
  • P. boisei 2.3 - 1.3
  • P. robustus 2.0 - 1.0
  • Bipedalism
  • Tools
  • Language

Reconstruction of Australopithecine


Gracile Australopithecines

Robust Australopithecines

australopithecine environments
Australopithecine environments

Deinotherium ("terrible beast"), also called the Hoe tusker, was a gigantic prehistoric relative of modern-day elephants. Third larges land mammal known to have existed.

Dinofelis ("terrible cat") is a genus of saber-toothed cat.

the first of our genus early homo
The first of our genus: Early Homo

Homo floresiensis

The Hobbit

hominin evolution23
Hominin Evolution
  • Major Homo advances:
    • Brain size
    • Better bipedalism
    • Hunting
    • Fire (H. erectus)
    • Tools
      • Oldowon (H. habilis)
      • Acheulean (H. erectus)
      • Mousterian (H. heidelbergensis)
      • Solutrean (H. sapiens)
    • Built shelters (H. heidelbergensis)
    • Clothing (H. neandertalensis)
    • Language (Neandertals?)
homo habilis
Homo habilis
  • 612 cc brain
  • 2.3 - 1.6 mya
  • first toolmaker
  • prognathic face, brow ridge
  • probable meat-eater
  • possibly arboreal
  • discovered in 1960 by Leakeys

Artist rendition of H. habilis.

ER-1813 – Homo habilis

oldowan tool industry
Oldowan Tool Industry

The Oldowan is the first known industrial complex in prehistory. It takes its name from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

Oldowan tool use is estimated to have begun about 2.5 million years ago (mya), lasting to as late as 0.5 mya.

It is thought that Oldowan tools were produced by several species of hominids ranging from Australopithecus to early Homo.

  • Chopper with simple edge
  • Chopping tool
  • Unretouched biface
h habilis vs h erectus
H. habilis vs. H. erectus
  • Finds in east Africa indicate that Homo habilis was not very different from the australopithecines in terms of body size and shape.
  • The earliest Homo erectus remains indicate rapid biological change.
    • H. erectus was considerably taller and had a larger brain than H. habilis.
homo ergaster erectus
Homo (ergaster) erectus
  • 1891 - Eugene Dubois discovers H. erectus in Java
  • Dubois calls it Pithecanthropus erectus initially, also dubbed “Java Man”
  • Dates from 1.9 mya to 27,000 years B.P.
  • 994 cc brain size (compare to 612 for H. habilis)
  • Acheulean tool industry
  • All finds in E. Asia are H. erectus, everywhere else is called H. ergaster.

Photograph of Nariokotome boy, an early Homo erectus found near Lake Turkana, Kenya.

turkana boy homo ergaster
Turkana Boy Homo ergaster

Turkana Boy (KNM-WT 15000): a nearly complete skeleton of an 11 or 12 year old boy who died approximately 1.5 million years ago near Lake Turkana in Kenya by Kamoya Kimeu and Richard Leakey in 1984.

homo ergaster 1 9mya to 27k ybp
Why was H. erectus so successful?

Less hair on body = wearing of furs, other clothing.

Wearing of furs = ability to live further north.

Quick adaptation to environment without physical changes.

Culture is main reason H. erectus was so successful

organization for hunting

ability to protect against predators

control of fire?

possible campsites

tools (Acheulean industry)

Homo ergaster – 1.9mya to 27k yBP

Distribution of H. erectus

acheulean tools
Acheulean Tools
  • Acheulean tools are typically found with Homo erectus remains.
  • It was the dominant technology for the vast majority of human history and more than one million years ago it was Acheulean tool users who left Africa to first successfully colonize Eurasia.
homo neanderthalensis
Homo neanderthalensis
  • discovered in the Neander Valley (Tal) near Dusseldorf, 1856
  • massive brain--about 1,400cc on average
  • large torso, short limbs, broad nasal passages
  • later remains show decrease in robustness of the front teeth and face, suggesting use of tools replaced teeth
  • retained occipital torus, some mid-facial prognathism

Range of Homo neanderthalensis

The skull of the classic Neandertal found in 1908 at La Chapelle-aux-Saints.

First reconstruction of Neanderthal man.

neandertal culture
Neandertal Culture
  • Homesites – In caves, also in the open (near rivers, framed with wood and covered with skins)
  • Burial – Is there evidence of purposeful burial and ritual?
  • Language – Could Neandertals talk or not?
  • Tools – Mousterian tradition

Top: Reconstruction of Neandertal burial from Shanidar cave

Bottom: Mousterian tools

what happened to neandertals
What happened to Neandertals?
  • H. neanderthalensis coexisted with H. sapiens for at least 20,000 years, perhaps as long as 60,000 years
  • What happened?
    • Neandertals interbred with H. sapiens
    • Neandertals were killed off by H. sapiens
    • H. sapiens drove Neandertals into extinction by competition

Neanderthal existence

Neanderthal versus Homo sapiens

homo sapiens
Homo sapiens
  • Archaic – 150,000 to 35,000 years BP
    • Earliest members of the species Homo sapiens with different subspecies such as H.s. neanderthalensis or H. s. idaltu
  • Modern – 50,000 years BP to present
    • Fully modern behavior& anatomy becomes prominent.
    • Ritual burying; reproduced tools of bone & antlers; fishing (costal sites show evidence of fishing after 50k ya).
    • First hominids to reach Australia (language?).
    • Cultural universals emerge: art, music, religion.
    • Sometimes called Homo sapiens sapiens

modern homo sapiens
Modern Homo Sapiens
  • Regional-Continuity Model (Milford Wolpoff, UMich)
    • Humans evolved more or less simultaneously across the entire Old World from several ancestral populations.
  • Rapid-Replacement Model (Chris Stringer, NHM London)
    • Humans evolved only once--in Africa from H. heidelbergensis ancestors--and then migrated throughout the Old World,
  • replacing their archaic predecessors. Also called the “Out of Africa” and “Killer Ape” hypothesis.

upper palaeolithic hotbed of culture
Upper Palaeolithic – Hotbed of Culture
  • 40 – 10k yBP
  • Shelters
    • 15,000 yBP Ukraine
    • Some made with mammoth bones
    • Wood, leather working; carpentry
  • Tools
    • From cores to blades
    • Specialization
    • Composite tools
    • Bow and arrow
  • Domestication of dogs
  • Gathering rather than hunting became the mainstay of human economies.

Top: Straw Hut

Left: Mammoth bone hut

Bottom: Tool progression

early h sapiens culture
Early H. sapiens Culture
  • Art
    • Traces of art found in beads, carvings, and paintings
    • Cave paintings in Spain and southern France showed a marked degree of skill
  • Female figurines
    • 27,000 to 22,000 years B.P. (Western Europe to Siberia)
    • Called “venuses,” these figurines depicted women with large breasts and broad hips
      • Perhaps it was an example of an ideal type, or perhaps an expression of a desire for fertility or abundance.

Venus of Willendorf. Discovered in 1908 in Austria and dated to approximately 23,000 years ago.

archaic h sapiens culture
Archaic H. sapiens Culture

Cave paintings from 20,000 years ago at Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in southern France (left) and from Lascaux, in southwest France

  • Cave paintings
    • Mostly animals on bare walls
    • Subjects were animals favored for their meat and skins
    • Human figures were rarely drawn due to taboos and fears that it would somehow harm others

social organization
Social Organization
  • Hunter-gatherer analogy
    • Small group, low population density, nomadism, kinship groups
  • Migration
    • North America was the last colonized by hominids.
    • Beringia (land bridge) between Russia and Alaska
    • Asian origin of Native Americans
    • 30,000 to 12,000 years B.P. was first migration