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Chapter 11

Chapter 11 Textbook Notes

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Heather Miller

Notes From Reading CHAPTER 11:P REMODERN H UMANS (251-278) Learning Objectives  Compare premodern humans with earlier hominins (specifically, Homo erectus) both anatomically and in terms of what the archaeological evidence tells us  Explain why premodern humans are called “humans” and how they relate to modern humans  Explain how the latest DNA evidence helps resolve the issue of whether the Neandertals are a different species from living people Introduction  All living people today are members of one species, sharing a common anatomical pattern and similar behavioral potentials  We call hominins like us “modern Homo sapiens”  Homo erectus took crucial steps in the human direction and defined a new adaptive level in human evolution When, Where and What?  Most of the hominins lived during the Middle Pleisocene o Middle Pleistocene – the portion of the Pleistocene epoch beginning 780,000 ya and ending 125,000 ya  Later premodern humans, especially the Neandertals, lived well into the Late Pleistocene o Late Pleistocene – the portion of the Pleistocene epoch beginning 125,000 ya and ending approximately 10,000 ya  Middle Paleolithic – cultural period that began about 200,000 ya and ended around 40,000- 30,000 ya. Roughly the same period in sub-Saharan Africa is called the Middle Stone Age  Upper Paleolithic – cultural period beginning roughly 40,000-30,000 ya and ending about 10,000 ya and distinguished by major technological innovations, the creation of the earliest human art widely recognized as such, and many other accomplishments. Best known from western Europe; similar industries are also known from central and eastern Europe and Africa The Pleistocene  Has been called the Ice Age because it was marked my periodic advances and retreats of massive continental glaciations o Glaciations – climatic intervals when continental ice sheets cover much of the northern continents. Glaciations are associated with colder temperatures in northern latitudes and more arid conditions in southern latitudes, (Africa) o Interglacials – Climatic intervals when continental ice sheets are retreating, eventually becoming much reduced in size. Interglacials in northern latitudes are associated with warmer temperatures, while in southern latitudes the climates becomes wetter.  These glaciations, which enveloped huge swaths of Europe, Asia and North American as well as Antarctica, were mostly confined to northern latitudes  Hominins living at this time (still restricted to the Old World), were severely affected as the climate, flora and animal life shifted during these Pleistocene oscillations  In Africa, the main effects were related to changing rainfall patterns  The changing availability of food resources certainly affected hominins in Africa  During the warmer interglacial, the ice sheets shrank, sear levels rose, and certain migration routes reopened Dispersal of Middle Pleistocene Hominins  Like their H. erectus predecessors, later hominins were widely distributed in the Old World, with discoveries coming from three continents – Africa, Asia, and Europe Middle Pleistocene Hominins: terminology  The premodern human of the Middle Pleistocene generally succeeded H. erectus  The earliest premodern humans exhibit several H. erectus characteristics: Notes From Reading CHAPTER 11:P REMODERN H UMANS (251-278) o The face is large, the brows are projected, the forehead is low, and in some cases the cranial vault is still thick  Compared with H. erectus, these premodern humans possessed: o An increased brain size, a more rounded braincase (maximum breadth is higher up on the sides), a more veritical nose, and a less angled back of the skull (occipital)  As early as 850,000 ya and extending to about 200,000 ya, the fossils from Africa and Europe are placed within Homo heidelbergensis (more primitive members of Homo sapiens)  H. heidelbergensis is a transition species between H. erectus and later hominins (H. sapiens) Premodern Humans of the Middle Pleistocene Africa  In Africa, the site known as Kabwe (in Sambia), fieldworkers discovered a complete cranium together with other cranial and postcranial elements belong to several inividuals o The skull’s massive browridge (one of the largest of any hominin), low vault, and prominent occipital torus recall those of H. erectus o The occipital region is less angulated, the cranial vault bones are thinner, and the cranial base is essentially modern  Bodo is another significant African premodern fossil dated to relatively early in the Middle Pleistocene (one of the oldest specimens of H. heidelbergensis  The Bodo cranium shows distinctive patterns of cut marks perhaps related to cannibalism as a ritual  The general premodern fossils indicate a close relationship between them, almost certainly representing a single species (referred to as H. heidelbergensis) Europe  During the Middle Pleistocene, Europe was more widely and consistently occupied than it was earlier in human evolution  The time range of European premodern humans extends the full length of the Middle Pleistocene and beyond  Most recent and more completely studied H. heidelbergensis fossils have been found throughout much of Europe  Paleoanthropologists interpret the hominin morphology as showing several indications of an early Neandertal-like pattern, with arching browridges, projecting midface, and other Neandertal features Asia  Asian premodern specimens discovered in China also display both earlier and later characteristics  Chinese paleoanthropologists suggest that the more ancestral traits, such as a sagittal ridge and flattened nasal bones, are shared with H. erectus fossils from Zhoukoudian  Some Chinese researchers have argues that anatomically modern Chinese didn’t evolve from H. sapiens in either Europe or Africa; instead they evolved locally in China from a separate H. erectus lineage Lower Paleolithic Premodern Human Culture  Acheulian technology changed relatively little until near the end of the Lower Paleolithic  Flake tools and hard axes, many of which are smaller than early Acheulian hand axes, are commonly found in European assemblages  Among their technological accomplishments, about 300,000 ya, later premoden humans in Africa and Europe invented the prepared-core method in striking flakes o Prepared-Core Method – pertaining to stone cores that a toolmaker shape into a preplanned form before striking flakes from it; enable predictable flake shape and thickness; can be efficient in the use of raw materials  Hominin populations adapted to the seasonal climatic exttremes of life outside the tropics in many ways, eventually including the controlled use of fire and the construction of shelters Notes From Reading CHAPTER 11:P REMODERN H UMANS (251-278)  Evidence of habitual fire use beginsto appear in the archaeological record, researchers also finds sites containing patches of artifacts, food waste, stones  Meat was appare ntly an important part of the diet for at least some populations, and plant foods were undoubtedly so Neandertals: Premodern Humans of the Late Pleistocene  Classidied variously either as H. sapiens or as belonging to a separate species, they are like us and yet different  The evolutionary roots of Neandertals apparently reach quite far back in western Europe  One striking feature of Neandertals is brain size, which in these hominins actually was larger than that of H. sapiens today  The classic Neandertal cranium is large, longs and bulging at the sides, the occipital bone is somewhat bun-shaped, but the marked occipital angle typical of many H. erectus crania is absent  The forehead rises more vertically than that of H. erectus and the browridges arch over the orbits instead of forming a straight bear  The Neandertal face stand out – it projects almost as if it were pulled forward  Neandertals were very robus
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