ANTA01 Introduction to Anthropology
Lecture 6 Early Homo tools & brains
The functional thing that makes humans different from all other animals is our ability to
Timeline showing where primitive, gracile, and robust, australopithecines came up.
Miocine is a plethora of apes.
Today we are jumping to Pliocene-Pleistocene borderline.
What’s interesting about this time period is a short range for first Olduvan tools.
The tools appear before the fossils, Homo habilis.
We also have overlap with the development of Homo erectus who is much more advanced than early
Trend over past 20 million years has been toward cooling and drying.
Today we are focusing on the bottom of the most right chart.
The important take home observation from chart is that during that time period, it is not just cold or
warm, it is fluctuating, and it is not fluctuating as drastically as Pleistocene.
At the end of the enlightenment period (17 -18 century), people accepts Darwin’s ideas that people have
changed and we are related to apes, but where should we look at these fossils, Darwin’s descent of man said
fossils are found in Africa, because two of the biggest apes are in Africa, and he figured it was more likely we
would find fossils in Africa. Africa was not the most supported place to look for fossil remains; most people
thought fossils would be found in Asia.
Dubois studied anatomy in India and convinced his young wife to travel to Indonesia and work at military
army hospital for 3 years before he got permission to look for fossil remains. After 2 years of looking, he
found two different elements close to one another eroding out of a river bed; he found a femur and top of a
skull. He assumed they had to belong to the same person and knew they were old and eroding from bottom of
river bank. The fossils are very similar to humans; the femur has a large head, there is a very large brain, it
was a biped due to the human like femur. Piltdown man is the oldest fossil ever found.
The Taung child looked like an ape, but had a forward foramen magnum. Piltdown gave evidence of large
brain before bipedal, but Taung child shows bipedalism before large brain.
When Piltdown man was discovered, it was in the UK, it was such a perfect specimen that most people bought
into it wholeheartedly. It has a large globular human head. It has a clearly ape jaw. It shows that it is still
maintaining some of the ape-like characteristics, but it is bipedal. Piltdown man was one of the greatest scams
of all time. It turns out when they did some test on it many years later and look at levels of Fluorine of skull
vs. mandible. While excavator said they were buried together, they could not have been found together. The
teeth had been filed down, and the skull had been painted to make it look older than it was, it looks like a
human because it was a human skull and took an orangutan jaw and attached it. Once the hoax was
recognized, instead of being big brained than bipedal, then it was bipedality that came first through
examination of Taung child. The Java man is Homo erectus.
Olduvai Gorge & early Homo
‘Dear boy’ was found 7m below bed 1. We know ‘dear boy’ has to be much older. OH 5 is the museum
number. The very next year Mary Leakey discovered Homo habilis, there were two features that made it seem
as if it was responsible for making tools.
o 1. The brain was bigger.
o 2. Fingers had characteristics of fine motor movement.
Homo habilis is Latin for handy man.
The first specimen was named twiggy.
Twiggy and dear boy are found in the same deposit but how are they different?
o Twiggy had a developing prefrontal cortex.
o She is much smaller/gracile compared to dear boy.
o Twiggy is more prognathic than dear boy.
o Dear boy’s jaw is much bigger.
o Dear boy has a sagittal crest whereas twiggy doesn’t.
Twiggy is on the left and Homo erectus is on the right, Homo erectus has a bigger brain.
The top left is a chimpanzee, on the right is Mrs. Ples, she has a slightly bigger brain than chimpanzee
and a more prognathic face like a chimpanzee and her foramen magnum was forward.
Middle left, twiggy has an ape like face but bigger brain size than Mrs. Ples.
Neanderthals have monstrous brains.
Olduvai early Homo compared to Homo erectus
Would expect if Homo habilis to move more around on the ground bust have long arms and short
legs of spending most time in the trees compared to Homo erectus.
Early Homo in South Africa
Just called early homos in South Africa.
Found in Swartkrans and Sterkfontein.
StW 53 & Twiggy
o They look similar, same brain size, skull case is the same, development of brain in the same
o StW 53 looks a bit more prognathic in the face
Who is early Homo? Two Species?
Koobi Fora found KNM-ER 1813, looks exactly like twiggy. This individual is clearly the same as
twiggy and Olduvai George is very close to Koobi Fora. 1813 is a Homo habilis.
KNM-ER 1470, is twice the size of the fossil on the left. The specimen on the right was interpreted to
be a male Homo habilis because found in exact same site and deposit. Two things that make it
impossible to be the same species, it had a perfectly flat face. Most people have proposed this is a new
species called Homo rudolfensis.
Also, when they found Homo rudolfensis, they had longer legs than they did arms.
Homo habilis has long arms and short legs.
Also only found Homo rudolfensis in Koobi Fora & Olduvai, and found other early Homos in Koobi
Fora, Olduvai George, and Southern Africa, so it’s as if we found males only in one