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ANT203 March 6 2012.pdf

Course Code
Xueda Song

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Premodern Humans
• Pleistocene
aka the "Ice Age," marked by advances and retreats of massive continental
glaciations in northern latitudes (esp. Europe, Northern Asia)
at least 15 major and 50 minor glacial advances documented in Europe
climate, flora and fauna shifts impacted hominins
changing Pleistocene environments in Africa
map contrasting interglacial (increased rainfall) and glacial (reduced rainfall,
increased aridity, expansion of deserts) periods
so drying, not glaciers, in Africa
the extent of the Sahara during Pleistocene glacial events would prevent
movement North
movement out of Africa occurs during interglacial periods
changing environments in Eurasia
populations are moving south of the glaciers (namely the Scandinavian
continental glacier) during glacial period; movement north is possible during
the interglacial period
these geological events are a major factor in when and where hominins can disperse
What were the earliest premodern humans like?
H. erectus characteristics:
large face, projecting brows, low forehead, thick cranial vault
with more modern conditions:
increased brain size (1100 - 1200 cc), more rounded braincase (parietal
expansion), more vertical nose, less angled occipital
Middle Pleistocene Hominins
key premodern human fossils from Africa (see also: table)
Homo heidelbergensis, Kabwe (Broken Hill)
600,000-125,000 ya
massive browridge
low vault
prominent occipital torus
Homo heidelbergensis, Bodo
600,000 ya
earliest evidence of Homo heidelbergensis in Africa
cut marks indicate defleshing of the specimens - cannibalism? or just
ritual postmortem behaviour?
key premodern human fossils from Europe (see also: table)
Homo heidelbergensis, Sima de los Huesos, Spain
(600?) 500,000-400,000 ya cave
same area as Gran Dolina - earliest heidelbergensis of 850,000 ya,
or antecessor?

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remains of 28 individuals
earliest purposeful body disposal (fragments found in a deep shafts
near the back of the cave - were obviously moved there)
more than 4000 fragments, represents more than 80% of all Middle
Pleistocene hominin remains
some indications of early Neanderthal-like pattern: arching
browridges (think Mcdonalds logo), projecting midface
Homo heidelbergensis, Steinheim
250,000 ya
some erectus traits, mixed with derived traits, including an increased
cranial capacity (1200 cc), less angled occiput, parietal expansion
(contrast with long, low erectus), reduced tooth size
Homo heidelbergensis, Arago, rance (approx. 350,000 ya) - see artist's
key premodern human fossils from Asia (see also: table)
Dali, China
230,000-180,000 ya)
H. erectus and H. sapiens characteristics
1120 cc
considered by some to represent H. heidelbergensis (others
would categorize them as a more derived species; but go
with the textbook)
Jinniushan, NE China
200,000 ya
1260 cc
thin braincase walls
modern features unexpected for age
regional variant of H. heidelbergensis?
Review of Middle Pleistocene Evolution (400,000-125,000 ya)
like the erectus/sapiens mix in Africa and Cina, fossils from Europe exhibit
traits from both species
fossils from each continent differ, but the physical differences are not
there is a definite increase in brain size and a change in the shape of the skull
Middle Pleistocene culture
Acheulean tool tradition, replaced near the end with the Levallois tool
key tool no longer a handaxe, but but nodules modified to make
smaller flakes (so it's a flake technology)
more cognition, planning, passing on knowledge of steps, more
manual dexterity
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