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Early Hominins & Tools (Lecture 5).docx

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Mary Silcox

Hominini: the group that includes all species more closely related to Homo sapiens than to any living great ape Uniquely Human Features ● extremely large brain ● anatomically bipedal ● very small canines ● relatively flat faces (orthognathic) ● ability to modify raw materials into tools ● chin ● ability to both learn and invent language Two Possible Scenarios for Human Evolution ● Brain first: the big brain is the most distinctive human feature, and must therefore have been evolving for the longest time ● Bipedalism first: humans began walking on their hindlimbs first, which freed the hands for tool use, leading to brain expansion Charles Dawson and Piltdown ● Discovered the first evidence of early hominin skull pieces in Piltdown, Southern England ● Piltdown 1 had skull fragments which suggested the presence of a very large brain but the jaw bone seemed to be more ape-like ● This reconstruction of the skull pieces showed that Piltdown 1 was a male Fluorine Dating ● Fluorine dating is a relative dating technique, that says if two subjects are buried in the same area they should have the same amount of fluorine build-up. ● The skull case and the jaw of Piltdown 1 had two different fluorine levels, so it was a hoax (proved in Weiner et al, 1953) ● The skull case was human but the jaw was that of an orangutan ● It is unknown who perpetrated the hoax, though most believe it was Martin A.C. Hinton 3 Clusters of Early Hominins ● Pre-australopiths (7-4.4 mya) ○ e.g, Ardipithecus ramidus (~4.4 mya) ● Earlier, more primitive australopiths (4.2-3.0 mya) ○ e.g, Australopithecus afarensis (3.9-3.0 mya) ● Later, more derived australopiths (2.5-1.0 mya) ○ e.g, Paranthropus (robusts) Ardipithecus ramidus (~4.4 mya) “Ardi” ● From Ethiopia, particularly the Middle Awash area ● The skeleton was found in a flat, crushed state ● Had a chimp-sized brain (~300-350 cubic centimetres) ● Anteriorly positioned foramen magnum (when reconstructed) ○ Foramen magnum is a hole in the back of the skull which the spinal cord and the brain connect ● We know that Ardipithecus ramidus was bipedal because the foramen magnum was located similarly to that of a human ● It also had a short, broad pelvis bone with laterally oriented iliac blades ○ In humans, the iliac blades of the pelvis face toward the sides, whereas in great apes they face towards the back ● A. ramidus’ canine teeth were intermediate in size - bigger than a human, smaller than a chimp Australopithecus afarensis (3.18 mya) “Lucy” ● Found in 1974 ● Had a short, laterally oriented iliac blade with a knee angled under the body ● A
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