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Chapter 10

Textbook Chapter 10 Notes

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Heather Miller

Notes From Reading CHAPTER 10:THE FIRSTDISPERSAL OF THGENUSH OMO:H OMO ERECTUS ANC ONTEMPORARIES(PG.231-250) 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 Introduction  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 Homo  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 inches  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 Notes From Reading CHAPTER 10:THE FIRSTDISPERSAL OF TGEENUSHOMO :HOMO ERECTUS ANDCONTEMPORARIES PGS.231-250)  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 canine  Based on the evidence from Dmanisi, we can assume that H. erectus was the first hominin to leave Africa  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 Notes From Reading CHAPTER 10:THEF IRSD ISPERSAL OF TGENUSH OMO:H OMO ERECTUS ANCONTEMPORARIES(PGS.231-250) Cultural Remains from Zhoukoudian  The earliest tools were generally crude and shapeless, but they become more refined over time  Hunter-gatherers – people who make their living by hunting, fishing, and gathering their food and not by producing it  Layers of what has long been though to be ash caves have been interpreted as indicating the use of fires by H. erectus  Tools in the cave, and possibly the cut marks on some of the animal bones, provide evidence of hominin activities at Zhoukoudian  Controlling fire was one of the major cultural break through of all prehistory for H. erectus o Providing warmth, a means of cooking, light to further modify tools and protection Other Chinese Sites  Although most work has been done at Zhoukoudian, there are three of more important regions to talk about:  Lantian Country (including two sites, often simply referred to as Lantian) o Is older than Zhoukoudian o The cranial remains of two adult H. erectus females have been found in association with firetreated pebbles and flakes as well as ash o One of the specimens, an complete mandible containing several teeth, is quite similar to those from Zhoukoudian  Yunxian Country o Two badly distorted crania (due to ground pressures) were discovered here o Difficult to compare these crania with other H. erectus fossils o The H. erectus inhabitants are thou
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