Bones, Bodies & Burial - Evidence of Human Evolution

  • Created by: AshLia
  • Created on: 19-11-19 15:02

Human Evolution Timeline (Sort Of)

In human evolutionary history there have been many ancestors so to speak. As being part of the homo 'faction' so to speak of the human evolution chain we are not directily linked to our origional ancestors such as S. tchadensis (7 m.y.a - 6 m.y.a) and O. tugenensis. (6.6 m.y.a - 5.8 m.y.a - during the Milocene)

However, we are closely linked to:

  • H. ergaster 
  • H. erectus
  • H. florensiensis (aka. the hobbit)
  • H. antecessor
  • H. neanderthalensis

All of whom excisted by atleast 2.588 m.y.a when the Pleistocene begins

F.Y.I = The Pleistocene is the geological epoch the followed the Pilocene which followed the Milocene

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Our Earliest Grandma

Astralopithecines is a given term for various species that have been found but were for some reason all given different names!

All of these species however did share common features such as:

  • Robust bones - especially in the skull for chewing items such as nuts which they had to crack open with their teeth
  • Closer to chimpanzees than homo sapiens
  • Short in stature
  • 28-40 kilos was the average weight 
  • Wide pelvis
  • Bi-pedal (basically they walked on two legs)
  • Long arms and short legs 
  • Curved fingers to climb into the canopy 

One commonly known example of astralopithecine is 'Lucy' who was found in Africa

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Homo Antecessor

One specific site where H. antecessor has been found is Atapuerca, Gran Dolina, Spain. This site is predicted to be from about 1.2 m.y.a to 780 k.y.a as well as 320 - 200 k.y.a

Some common features of this species was:

  • Double-arched browridge
  • Has a canine fossa, with no expanded maxilla
  • Brain size approx1000 cc.
  • Reduced mandibular corpus thickness when compared to ergaster or early erectus.
  • Has small postcanines that resemble those of the habilines but still within the ergaster/erectus range
  • Shovel-shaped maxillary incisors
  • M3 is reduced relative to M1
  • Has moderate taurodontism
  • Sharp nasal margin
  • Shallow maxillary notch
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Homo Neanderthalensis

H. Neanderthalensis or the Neanderthals probably are the most famous and best understood of all extinct fossil populations 

We can know for certain that they occupied Europe and Western Asia from the beginning of the last interglacial, 130 k.y.a

Their origins are poorly understood and shrouded in deep-time

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Neanderthal Morphology

Coherent, homogenous group characterised by:

  • Long, relatively low vault
  • Large endocranial capacity (around 1560cc)
  • Low, receeding frontal bone
  • Continuous double-arched supraorbital torus
  • Pronounced post-toral sulcus or gutter
  • Occipital bone extended posteriorly to form pronounced bun or chignon
  • Lamboidal flattening
  • Suprainiac fossa or depression
  • Pronounced, continuous occipital torus
  • Small mastoids with pronounced mastoid crest or tuberosity, and juxtamastoid crest behind ear
  • Cranial base less flexed than in modern humans
  • Face long prognathous 
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Neanderthal Morphology Take 2

  • Nasal aperture large
  • Specilised nasal turbinates
  • Zygomatic arches retreat relative to midface
  • Pronunced pneumatisation of maxillary sinus above canine roots
  • No true chin, often retreating at the symphysis
  • Retromolar space
  • Large, shovell shaped incisors
  • Fused roots with enlargement of pulp cavity (taurodontism)
  • Postcranially very robust
  • Short, markedly curved and relatively short distal limb segments
  • Thick, barrel shaped rib cage
  • Very thick cortical bone affecting long bones
  • Average stature about 5’4” and about 75kg
  • Very robust, heavily muscled, short, barrelchested people
  • Muscular hypertrophy?
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Modern Humans

H. sapiens are us! But we have actually been around for far longer than most would think.

Some of the earliest sites where homo sapiens have been found are:

  • Florisbad c. 256 kya
  • Herto, 160 kya
  • Border Cave 90-50 kya
  • Klasies River Mouth 115-60 kya
  • Sea Harvest 127 > 40 kya
  • Haua Fteah 130-50 kya
  • Omo Kibish 127 kya
  • Skhul 101-81 kya
  • Djebel Qafzeh 120-92 kya

However, new sites are being found all the time such as Jebel Irhoud, Morocco 300

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African Origins of 'Modern' Human Behaviour

Africa is a main focus point of the human species! For example, it is where we can find the earliest hominins as well as the earliest origins of 'modern' human behaviour.

Examples of this behaviour are:

  • Prepared core technologies
  • Symbolic communication using material artefacts
  • Long-term planning in subsistence economy
  • Multi-generational use of sites
  • Typological regional variants
  • Systematic procurement and use of pigments
  • Structured use of living areas
  • Long distance transport of raw material
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Homo Floresiensis

H. floresciensis is a specific ancestor of H. sapien which is sometimes refered to as 'the hobbit' 

There are some key facts that we do know about H. floensiensis, such as:

  • A species of dwarf hominin
  • Only about 1 meter in height (about 3.2 feet)
  • With a very small brain size of 417 cc
  • With human-like teeth and a receding forehead and no chin
  • Relatively long arms

At a site called Liang Bua one sub-fossil skeleton was dated at 18,000 k.y.a; parts of eith other individuls, dated from 94,000 k.y.a to 13,000 k.y.a

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