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Anthropology - Humans and the Environment - Lecture Notes.docx

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Karen Slonim

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Humans and the Environment  Paleoanthropology – the study of fossil humans  Hominid: humans and their direct ancestors  Multidisciplinary: experts from different scientific disciplines  They work together to figure out where we came from  Fossils: organic material is replaced by minerals from surrounding soil  Not everything is fossilized  Early hominids did not have big brains  Differentiated hominids from other primates by the presence of bipedalism  Was also reduction in face, jaw and anterior teeth Features of bipedalism  Formation of foramen magnum (hole in head)  If bipedal, hole is more towards the center  Spine has two distinctive curves (S-shaped)  Distribution of weight shifts when go from walking on all fours to two legs  Change in shape of pelvis  Lengths of lower limbs (longer legs)  Structure of femur and tibia (the way top of leg rests on bottom part of leg is different for bipedalism)  Big toe is in line with rest of foot not like a thumb (like in apes)  Arch in foot helps weight distribution and balance  Bipedalism idea 1: freed up hands so we could use tools (wrong)  Bipedalism idea 2: easier to transport food and offspring (wrong)  Bipedalism idea 3: able to transport food back to mate  Bipedalism idea 4: thermoregulation (endurance favoured over speed, moved more efficiently over long distances) Hominid Evolution  Australopithicines: exclusively found in Africa  Bipedal, small brains, large teeth  Australopithecus: could walk but could also live in trees cause toes were curved Zhoukoudian (China)  Archaic and Modern Homo Sapiens  Mixture of homo erectus and modern traits  Archaic have long low
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