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Human Evolution. I. Darwin. " light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history ". from On the Origins of Species, 1859

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i darwin
I. Darwin
  • "light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history".

from On the Origins of Species, 1859

  • … the weighty arguments derived from the nature of the affinities which connect together whole groups of organisms- their geographical distribution in past and present times, and their geological succession. The homological structure, embryological development, and rudimentary organs of a species remain to be considered, whether it be man or any other animal, to which our attention may be directed; but these great classes of facts afford, as it appears to me, ample and conclusive evidence in favour of the principle of gradual evolution. The strong support derived from the other arguments should, however, always be kept before the mind.

from The Descent of Man, 1871


II. Why Study Human Evolution?

3-year-old Australopithecus afarensis

Knees of a Biped,

Shoulders of a


Dinkenesh,” meaning “You are beautiful” or "you are wonderful"


III. Phylogenetic Evidence

Phylogeny based on


Elongated skull,

brow ridge enlarged

shorter and stouter

canines, front of upper

jaw, fusion of certain

bones in wrist, larger

ovaries, mammaries,

reduced hairiness

Larger brains, no tail,

more erect, hips/ankles

more flexible, changes

in structure of arms/



Molecular markers

Antibody response



oxidase II alleles


IV. Genetic and other differences

Human chromosome 2 and its homologues

in chimpanzees & gorillas


What makes a human?

Differences in gene expression patterns in different tissues

of humans, chimps, and rhesus macaques

behavioral traits we inherited from chimp human common ancestor
Behavioral traits we inherited from Chimp-Human Common Ancestor
  • Knucklewalker (our ancestors, since divergence with chimps)
  • Broad fruit based diet
  • Lived in a range of habitats
  • Tools
  • Hunted
  • Dominated by Males/Females
  • Violent aggression/war?
  • Homosexuality, recreational sex?

Differ between

Chimps and



V. Fossil Evidence

Hominin or hominid:

species more closely related to human than chimp



Human and Chimp


"The Laetoli Footprints"

Note position of big toe

And heel strike

Natl Geographic Soc.

See also:


Summary of fossil evidence on the

recent ancestry of humans


Phylogeny of Homo sapiens and recent ancestors and extinct


= H. erectus

Very hypothetical

Evidence for hominid radiation

Paranthropus boisei, left and Homo ergaster both lived in what is now

Koobi Fora, Kenya, about 1.7 million years ago.


VI. Origin of Species Homo sapiens

Oldest fossils of ergaster/erectus appear simultaneously

in Africa,Europe and Asia about 1.6-1.9 mya, all

ancestors > 2mya from Africa


Genetic Evidence:

Genetic (mtDNA) diversity in humans versus African great apes

Single origin?

All pairwise differences between individuals within a species


An evolutionary tree

of complete

mitochondrial DNAs

of 53 humans

Single origin?


Phylogenetic tree for 14 human populations based on allele

frequencies at 30 microsatellite loci

Single origin < 300,000 ya


Genetic diversity at a single locus among people of 7 geographic regions

Single origin < 300,000 ya


VII. Human Attributes

Making complex tools





Brain Body Mass

Hyoid bones from

Homo neanderthalensis

and a common chimpanzee

H. habilis,

H. ergaster/erectus, and

H. sapiens

  • afarensis, A. africanus,
  • P. boisei, and P. robustus;

bonobo, common chimpanzee,

orangutan, and gorilla


VIII. Summary

  • Relationships among Humans and Extant Apes
  • Divergence time about 5 mya
  • Hominid radiation
  • African Replacement or independent evolution of
  • H. sapiens in Africa, Europe and Asia?
  • 5. Evolution of uniquely human traits