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Lecture 11

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

Course Code
ANTH 1026F/G
Christopher Ellis

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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
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
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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