ANT203 - 17 January 2012.pdf

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18 Mar 2012
School
Department
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Guest Lecture
(NOTE: discrepancies with textbook - learn textbook version)
Finding fossils
excavation, salvage, survey
skulls in the field usually found in loads of pieces, having been deconstructed y
geological processes
taphonomy and how the fossil was originally deposed
reconstruct environment
plant fossils (e.g. date pits - often found in connection with primates; palm
leaf, tree roots)
context of where bones are founds is key
Paleoecology (Rudabanya)
understanding our evolution requires understanding the nature of our ancestors
Miocene
Late
11.5-5.5 mya
Precursors to Asian apes
Sivapithecus
India/Pakistan
in Asian ape lineage
modern great ape - similar jaw/tooth structure to great ape
taxa, esp. Australopithecenes (coincidental - analogous)
have the jaw of a baby as well as of an adult male, with milk
teeth - because of tooth structure, can know age of death (3
years old)
age of M1 eruption (first molar) is strongly
controlled genetically, correlated to ultimate brain
size, age of fertility, number of offspring in a year,
life span, etc. (life history)
indicates growth pattern similar to chimpanzees
(unlike Proconsul and co. - slower growth)
limbs
ape-like elbow (full extension), arms longer than
legs, etc.
Lufengpithecus (9.5 Mya)
Southern China
one of the forms associated with Orangutans (genus Pongo)
radiation of these species
crenulated molars - maybe more closely related to
Orangutans than Sivapithecus
long, curved phalanges (suggesting suspension)
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Gigantopithecus (6.5 Mya)
mostly China, also India
2-3x larger than living gorillas
only evidence - six or seven lower jaws, a few thousand
teeth
surprising given size and presumably big, strong
bones
given tradition of grinding up fossilized bones ("dragon
bones") for medicinal purposes in China, some of the bones
could have been destroyed that way
also possible that we have bones but haven't recognized them
as such (b/c so big for a primate)
ancestral African Apes
whereas Asian Ape lineage is based in Asia, African Ape and
Human ancestors found in Europe
Pierolapithecus (2.5 Mya)
Spain
looks like a miniature gorilla
thin enamel, like African apes
ribs show that body weight was not supported with arms
and legs under the trunk - broad, barrel-shaped trunk
Dryopithecus
pits in teeth from wear
edges of holes are sharp, good for slicing fibrous foods
Rudapithecus
also similar to a very small Gorilla
palate overlaps more than in Proconsul
specimen clearly shows head shape
face tilted downwards on the brain case
(klinorhynchy), which is unique to African apes and
humans
cf. orangutan faces, which tilt upwards (so does
Sivapithecus face)
known from a lot of limb bones, all of which suggest
suspensory locomotion, not at all like monkeys (not knuckle-
walkers though!)
additional European taxa (perhaps related to African Apes and Humans)
Ouranopithecus (9.5 Mya)
Greece
like Rudapithecus, (gorilla-like) but much bigger
descendant of Rudapithecus or Dryopithecus, but having
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