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Chapter 10. Neanderthals and Other Archaic Homo sapiens. Chapter Outline. Early archaic H. Sapiens A Review of Middle Pleistocene Evolution (circa 400,000–125,000 y.a.) Middle Pleistocene Culture. Chapter Outline. Neandertals: Late Archaic H. sapiens (130,000–35,000 y.a.)

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Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Neanderthals and Other Archaic Homo sapiens

Chapter outline
Chapter Outline

  • Early archaic H. Sapiens

  • A Review of Middle Pleistocene Evolution (circa 400,000–125,000 y.a.)

  • Middle Pleistocene Culture

Chapter outline1
Chapter Outline

  • Neandertals: Late Archaic H. sapiens (130,000–35,000 y.a.)

  • Culture of Neandertals

  • Genetic Evidence

  • Evolutionary Trends in the Genus Homo

Early archaic homo sapiens
Early Archaic Homo sapiens

  • Early archaic forms show morphological changes compared with H. erectus:

    • brain expansion

    • increased parietal breadth

    • some decrease in the size of the molars

    • general decrease in cranial and postcranial robusticity

Early archaic homo sapiens1
Early Archaic Homo sapiens

  • Conservative taxonomy classifies all specimens as archaic forms within the species Homo sapiens.

  • Other paleoanthropologists classify most specimens into other species of the genus Homo.

    • In this view, some earlier archaic forms could be ancestral to modern humans.

Review of middle pleistocene evolution 400 000 125 000 y a
Review of Middle Pleistocene Evolution (400,000-125,000 y.a.)

  • Like the erects/sapiens mix in Africa and China, fossils from Europe exhibit traits from both species.

  • Fossils from each continent differ, but the physical differences are not extraordinary.

  • There is a definite increase in brain size and a change in the shape of the skull.

Middle pleistocene tools
Middle Pleistocene Tools

  • African and European archaics invented the Levallois technique for tool making.

  • Acheulian tools are associated with hand axes.

  • Different tool traditions coexist in some areas.


  • People of the Mousterian culture lived in open sites, caves, and rock shelters.

  • Windbreaks of poles and skin were placed at the cave opening for protection against severe weather.

  • Fire was used for cooking, warmth, light, and keeping predators at bay.


  • Remains of animal bones demonstrate that Neandertals were successful hunters.

  • They used close-proximity spears for hunting (spear thrower and bow and arrow weren’t invented until the Upper Paleolithic).

  • Patterns of trauma in Neandertal remains match those of contemporary rodeo performers, indicating close proximity to prey.

Symbolic behavior
Symbolic Behavior

  • Prevailing consensus has been that Neandertals were capable of articulate speech.

  • Even if Neandertals did speak, they did not have the same language capabilities of modern Homo sapiens.


  • Neanderthals buried their dead.

  • Their burials included grave goods like animal bones and stone tools.

  • They placed the bodies of their dead in a flexed position.

Three major evolutionary transitions
Three Major Evolutionary Transitions

  • Transition from early Homo to H. erectus. Geographically limited to Africa and occurred rapidly.

  • Transition of H. erectus grading into early H. sapiens. Not geographically limited, but occurred slowly and unevenly.

  • Transition from Archaic H. sapiens to anatomically modern H. sapiens.