ANT203Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Taphonomy, Lithic Reduction, Encephalization

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Published on 13 Oct 2012
I. Introduction
a) Definite hominin fossil material has been found in Africa that dates to just after 5 mya.
i) The hominin nature of these remains is indicated because of the way they behaved.
ii) Hominin biocultural nature of human evolution, this chapter focuses in the methods scientists use to
explore the secrets of early hominin behavior and ecology.
II. Definition of a Hominin
a) Hominin origins date to the end of the Miocene.
b) Hominins have been variously defined as having: a large brain, bipedal locomotion, and/or tool-making
i) It is clear that these characteristics did not evolve simultaneously. The phenomenon of different
physiological systems evolving at different rates is called mosaic evolution.
ii) Bipedal locomotion is the key indication that a fossil was a hominin.
c) What’s in a name? we refer to members of the human family as hominins.
i) Molecular evidence clearly shows that the great apes are not a monophyletic group.
ii) Hominoid classification has been significantly revised adding two further taxonomic levels (subfamily
and tribe).
iii) There is very close evolutionary relationships between humans and African apes (particularly
chimpanzees and bonobos)
(1) The former term hominid has a quite different meaning in this revised classification referring
to all great apes and humans.
d) Biocultural evolution: the human capacity for culture
i) The most distinctive feature of humans is our dependence on culture.
(1) Human culture is an adaptive strategy that includes cognitive, political, social, and economic
aspects as well as the capacity to make and use tools.
ii) The earliest hominins did not regularly manufacture stone tools.
(1) They probably had the tool-making capabilities of living chimpanzees.
(a) Stone tools appear in the archaeological record about 2.6 mya.
(2) By 7 to 6 mya, hominins had developed bipedalism and could carry and transport objects
from place to place..
iii) The dynamics between neuronal reorganization, tool use, changing social organization, and
communication form the core of biocultural evolution.
III. The Strategy of Paleoanthropology
a) Paleoanthropology, the study of ancient humans, is a multidisciplinary approach that includes geologists,
archaeologists, physical anthropologists, and paleoecologists.
i) The earliest artifact date back to 2.6 mya and were found in sites from the Gona and Bouri areas in
northeastern Ethiopia.
(1) Cut marks in bones found in Ethiopia extend this date to 3.4 mya.
ii) Paleoanthropologists must synthesize information regarding:
(1) Dating of the site.
(2) The paleoecology of the site.
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