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Chapter 10

ANT101H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Straight Edge, Sangiran, Turkana Boy

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Heather Miller

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Learning Objectives
Describe the geographical distribution of the earliest Homo erectus finds and compare the dating
for these discoveries in Africa, Asia, and Europe
Describe the most important anatomical features found in Homo erectus and compare them with
early Homo and Homo sapiens
Discuss the biocultural evidence (both anatomical an archaeological) that miht explain how early
hominins dispersed from Africa to other regions of the Old World
All early hominins were restricted to Africa
Hominins expanded widely out of Africa into other areas of the Old World
There is a universal agreement that the hominins found outside of Africa are all members of genus
Around 1.7-1.6 mya, well after the initial dispersal of hominins, the Lower Paleolithic stone tool
industry called Acheulian developed
More advanced than the Oldowan, Acheulian tool kit provides us with convincing evidence of
increasing tool dependence by hominins
A New Kind of Hominin
Taxonomic splitting was quite common in the early years of paleoanthropology
Discoveries of firmly dated East African fossils have established the clear presence of Homo erectus
by 1.7 mya
Some anatomical differences between the African specimens and those from Asia, they are clearly
closely related and possibly represent geographical varieties of a single species
H. erectus represents a type of hominin that is different from its more ancient African predecessors
Increase in body size and robustness, changes in limb proportions, and greater encephalization
indicate that this hominin were more like modern humans
The Morphology of Homo erectus
Homo erectus populations lived in very different environments over the Old World
Body Size
H. erectus adults weighed well over 100 pounds, with an average adult height of about 5 feet 6
H. erectus was quite sexually dimorphic
Increased height and weight in H. erectus are also associated with a dramatic increase in robusticity
A heavily built body was to dominate hominin evolution not just during H. erecuts times, but
through the long transitional era of premodern forms as well
Brain Size
Cranial size is closely related to brain size
Homo had cranial capacities ranging from as small as 500cm3 to as large as 800cm3
Homo erectus, on the other hand, shows considerable brain enlargement, with a cranial capacity of
about 700 to 1250cm3
Along with an increase brain size, H. erectus was also considerably larger than ealier members of
the genus Homo
H. erectus was considerably less encephalized than later members of the genus Homo
Cranial Shape
Homo erectus crania display a highly distinctive shape, because of increased brain size, (probably
more correlated with increased body size)
The heavily built cranium are reflected in thick cranial bone, large browridges above the eyes, and
projecting nuchal torus at the back of the skull
Nuchal Torus a projection of bone in the back of the cranium where neck muscles attach. These
muscles hold up the head
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Braincase is long and low, receding from the large browridges with little forehead development
Cranium is wider at the base compared with earlier and later species of genus Homo
Maximum cranial breadth is below the ear opening, giving the cranium a pentagonal shape
They have a sagittal keel running along the midline of the skull
The First Homo erectus: Homo erectus from Africa
Homo erectus initially evolved in Africa and quickly migrated to other continents
All of the earlier hominins prior to the appearance of H. erectus come from Africa
It is likely that in East Africa around 2-1.8 mya, some form of early Homo evolved into H. erectus
A remarkable discovery was made in 1984 by a member of Richaed Leakey’s team
Nariokotome the “Nariokotome boy” is the most complete H. erectus specimen yet found
o Skeleton includes facial bones, a pelvis, and most of the limb bones, ribs and vertebrae and
is chronometrically dated to about 1.6 mya
o The skeleton is that of an adolescent about 8 years of age with an estimated height of about
5 feet 3 inches
H. erectus prenatal brain growth was more like that of later human and quite different from that
found in apes or in australopiths such as Lucy
H. erectus after brain growth after birth was more rapid than in modern human
Who Were the Earliest African Emigrants?
H. erectus originated in East Africa, they were close to land links to Eurasia and thus probably the
first to leave the continent
There is a greater range of physical variation in specimens outside of Africa
Current evidence shows that it took H. erectus less than 200,000 years to travel from East Africa to
Southeast Asia
The site of Dmanisi, has produced several individuals and an associated assemblage of Oldowan
stone tools
Dmanisi individuals are different from what is seen in other hominins outside of Africa
o Less robust, and thinner browridge, a projecting lower face, and a relatively large upper
Based on the evidence from Dmanisi, we can assume that H. erectus was the first hominin to leave
There were two migrations out of Africa:
o One consisting of the small-brained, short-statured Dmanisi hominins
o And an almost immediate second migration that founded the well-recognized H. erectus
Homo erectus from Indonesia
Eugene Dubois went to Indonesia to look for the “missing link
With fossils found in the town of Trinil, a general acceptance that most of the fossils belong to the
Early to Middle Pleistocene an are between 1.6 &1 million years old
o Pleistocene the epoch of the Cenozoic from 1.8 mya until 10,000 ya. Frequently referred
to as the Ice Age, this epoch is associated with continental galciations in northern latitudes.
Homo erectus from China
Scientist located one of the sources of “dragon bones” used by the Chinese as medicine and
aphrodisiacs, from a site called Zhoukoudian
A hominin of an early hominin was found here thick, low and relatively small
Zhoukoudian Homo erectus
The fossil remains of H. erectus discovered in the 1920s and 1930s, are by far the largest collection
of H. erectus material found anywhere
They have typical H. erectus feautres, including a large browridge and nuchal torus
Also, the skull has thick bones, a sagittal keel, and a protruding face and is broadest near the bottom
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