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Human Origins.docx

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Western University
Anthropology 2100
Peter Timmins

Oct, 01, 2012 Human Origins Geological Time Scale of the Cenozoic Era: -The fossil record is expanding rapidly and thus is getting more and more complex and the age of mammals runs from 65 million years ago to present -The Paleocene saw the emergence of the first rodent/ape like creatures -In the Oligocene things got more ape like and the Miocene saw proliferation of apes (our ancestors here) -Pliocene has hominids close to the human line and this is the period most important for human evolution and finally there is the Pleistocene with full fledged humans Synthetic Theory of Evolution: -This theory blends the theories of Darwin and Mendel and evolution is a change in the genetic make-up of a population from one generation to the next and a population is a group of interbreeding individuals -Genetic variation is produced by mutation (a random change in a gene) and genetic recombination (when an egg cell combines with a sperm cell) -Natural Selection is when individuals with characteristics best suited to their environment have the greatest chance for survival and have more reproductive success -Adaptive radiation occurs when a species migrates into new ecological zones and adapts, causing more variation Taxonomic Classification of Humans: Taxonomic Category Placement of Humans Kingdom Animal Class Mammals Order Primates Family Hominidae Genre Homo Species Sapiens Primates: Physical Characteristics of Primates: 1. A grasping hand with an opposable thumb or big toe 2. Pads and nails on fingers and toes to give enhanced sense of touch 3. Binocular stereoscopic vision with eyes rotated to the front of the skull so that fields of vision overlap 4. Expanded brain Oct, 01, 2012 A Traditional Classification of the Primates: Traditional Classification – Superfamily Hominoidea: -Family Pongidae includes the great apes like gorillas, chimps, and orangutans -Family Hominidae includes modern humans, direct ancestors, and known as hominids in the traditional system Revised Classification – Family Hominoidea: -Includes gorillas, chimps, orangutans, modern humans and direct ancestors -Hominins are members of the human lineage after they split from chimpanzee lineage -Hominin (revised classification) = Hominid (traditional classification) Hominoid Ancestors: Oligocene Primates - 35-23 MYA: -Aegyptopithecus (Egypt) 35-23 MYA was a small primate with good vision and other adaptations for arboreal life and it had a large visual cortex and small olfactory region Miocene Primates - 23 – 5.2 MYA: -Proconsul africanus (Africa), 22-18 MYA was a baboon-sized, slow moving, and arboreal hominoid -Kenyapithecus (Africa), 15-12 MYA had large molar teeth, lived both in trees and on ground -Sivapithecus (Turkey, India, and Pakistan) 12-7 MYA was an arboreal, similar to modern orangutan Adaptive Problems Faced by Early Hominins: Problems Solutions Being large mammals More mobility, broader diet, and more flexible behaviour Being terrestrial primates Upright posture and bipedalism, endurance and an increased field of vision Living in a savannah grassland environment More mobility, broader diet, scavenge meat, hunting and tool use eventually Hominoid-Hominin Changes Related to Bipedalism: -Change in spine from arc shape to S-shape -Feet go from prehensile appendages to walking platforms -Pelvis goes from shovel shape to basin shape -Foremen magnum goes from back of the skull to the centre Australopithecus/Paranthropus Traits: -Habitually bipedal -Robust forms have sagittal crest to anchor chewing muscles -Ranged in weight from about 29-34 kg for the females to 40-49 kg for the males (sexual dimorphism) -1.1 – 1.5 metres in height -Brain size was between 400-550 cc -Large molars with thic
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