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Lecture 11

Anthropology 1026F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Australopithecine, Taung Child, Gigantopithecus


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 1026F/G
Professor
Christopher Ellis
Lecture
11

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Lecture 11: Fossil Evidence
cont’d October 15, 2014
Miocene Epoch (25-5 million years ago)
Continents +/- same as today
Superfamily Hominoidea: apes, humans and extinct related forms
Lots of Hominoids = adaptive radiations
Appear in Africa first, later in Asia and Europe
Earliest = ape teeth/no tails but small and quadrupedal
Late Miocene (12-5 million years ago)
Many species and lines leading to modern forms appear  eg: biological family
Sivapithecidae
Several genera Asia and Africa
Asian species living in mosaic of grassland, bushes and woodland = largely terrestrial
Also suggested by body size:
Extreme  Gigantopithecus
Huge  teeth found by G.H.R. von Koenigswald in Chinese drugstores = “dragon’s teeth”
China, Pakistan, Vietnam  9-1 million years ago = extend beyond Miocene
600 lbs? 8 ft tall? = not arboreal!
Separate evolutionary lines leading to specific modern species established
Eg: one Sivapithecus species = ancestral to orangutans? 12 million years ago
6-5 million years ago or so  hominins or human line diverged based on
molecular/genetic “clocks”
Are some fossils said to be hominins at 4 to 7 million years; but some dispute as
hominins and some unknown if bipedal (Ardipithecus for example has grasping toe)?
Real hard evidence of hominins/human line around 4.2 million years ago
Most refer to Genus: “Australopithecus” = “Southern Ape” but are not apes
Are as many as 7 species of “Australopithecus” and some place in multiple genera
Several species existed at same time so not single straight evolutionary line = “bushy
tree” with some species “dead ends” (became extinct)
Adaptive radiation of hominins
All finds in Africa = “home” of hominins
Earliest find of Australopithecine = 75+ years ago at site of Taung in South Africa by
Raymond Dart
Taung child = face and brain cast
Dark said bipedal and therefore hominin
Age Australopithecine species = 4.0+ to 1.2m years ago
Other finds placed in genus Homo = +/- 1.8 million years ago so overlap with some
Australopithecines
Geological Epochs
1. Pliocene (5 to 2m. years ago)
2. Early Pleistocene (begins 2m. years ago)
Dating of these hominins use of Potassium-Argon/K-Ar technique
Do not date fossils directly but encasing layers of volcanic origin
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