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What Traits Characterize Humans?

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What Traits Characterize Humans?
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  1. What Traits Characterize Humans? • Bipedal Locomotion • Involves modifications of pelvis, femur, and backbone • Various hypotheses regarding benefits, including free hands (vs. knuckle-walking and brachiation of great apes) • Large Brain Size • Requires omega fatty acids – high levels in marine organisms, nuts, marrow • The Making and Use of Complex Tools • Earliest stone tools produced by chipping flakes from a rock; oldest dated at ~ 2.5 mya (Oldowan Stone Tools) • Opposable thumbs allow fine control and tight grips; include thick meta- carpals with broad heads for muscle attachment; three muscles not found in chimpanzees • Language and Cultural Evolution • Capacity for language is innate in humans (ex., children born deaf create languages) • Modifications of larynx allow more tongue movement and great diversity of vocalizations (trade-off is greater chance of choking); hyoid bone of Neanderthals virtually identical to that of present-day humans • Memes: ideas that can be disseminated via oral or written means, subject to modifications and non-genetic descent (impart information, cultural analogue to genes)

  2. Lemurs, lorises, and pottos Tarsiers ANCESTRAL PRIMATE New World monkeys Fig. 34-37 Anthropoids Old World monkeys Gibbons Orangutans Gorillas Chimpanzees and bonobos Humans 40 60 50 20 10 30 0 Time (millions of years ago)

  3. What are Some Notable Fossil Hominids? • Pre-australopithecine: ~ 7 - 5 million years ago (mya) • Sahelanthropus tchadensis: 6-7 mya (Chad); found in lake deposits from ancient Lake Chad • Orrorin tugenensis: ~ 6 mya (Kenya); recent evidence for bipedalism based on CT scan of femur neck (controversial) • Australopithecines: projecting faces; braincases < 550 cm3 • Australopithecus africanus: ~ 2.8 - 2.4 mya; first hominid fossil found in Africa (“Taung Child”); discovered in coastal South African cave by Raymond Dart in 1925; more specimens found nearby in 1930s - 1940s • Australopithecus afarensis (incl. “Lucy”): ~ 3.9 - 3.0 mya (Tanzania and Kenya); footprints in volcanic ash dated at 3.6 mya • Early Humans: apparently coexisted with robust australo- pithecines in Africa • Homo erectus(= H. ergaster): ~ 1.8 - 0.4 mya; widespread through Africa and Asia (ex. “Java man”); large braincase (> 850 cm3); most likely ancestor of more modern humans • Homo neanderthalensis: ~ 0.3 - 0.03 mya; found in Europe • Early Homo sapiens (incl. Cro-Magnon): ~ 0.1 mya - present; present-day average braincase = 1200 cm3; Cro-Magnon Man (30,000 ya) buried with animal bones, jewelry, and tools

  4. Paranthropus robustus Homo neanderthalensis Homo sapiens 0 Homo ergaster ? Paranthropus boisei 0.5 1.0 Australopithecus africanus 1.5 Fig. 34-40 2.0 Kenyanthropus platyops 2.5 Australopithecus garhi Australo- pithecus anamensis Homo erectus 3.0 Millions of years ago 3.5 Homo habilis Homo rudolfensis 4.0 4.5 Australopithecus afarensis Ardipithecus ramidus 5.0 5.5 Orrorin tugenensis 6.0 6.5 Sahelanthropus tchadensis 7.0

  5. Fig. 34-41 (a) Australopithecus afarensis skeleton (b)The Laetolifootprints (c) An artist’s reconstruction of what A. afarensis may have looked like