Review for Final Family Hominidae

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Anthropology 102

Review for Final
Family Hominidae

Adaptations to bipedality:

- balancing side to side (carrying angle in femur, gluteus minimus muscle is located to the side of hip joint).

- balancing front to back (shorter pelvis, thick and strong gluteus maximus, S-shaped vertebral column, foramen magnum is tucked underneath the skull).

- shock absorption (two arches in foot, spongy bone structure, larger and thicker epiphyses, larger heel bone)

Evolution of bipedality, advantages and disadvantages of bipedality.

Earliest Hominids: Sahelanthropus, Ardipithecus ramidus

Australopithecines: anatomy, dietary adaptations: size of teeth, chewing muscles: musseter and temporalis.

Gracile and robust australopithecines.

Gracile (A. afarensis, A. anamensis, A. africanus, A.garhi) diet: roots and tubers

Robust (A. aethiopicus, A. robustus, A. boisei) diet: seeds and nuts. Had huge molars and premolars, large chewing muscles, sagittal crests, very large postorbital constriction and flared out cheek bones for temporalis muscle to fit through.

Kenyanthropus platyops (3.5 mya) – bipedal, small brain, small teeth.

Genus Homo (increased brain size, smaller molars, parabolic dental row, reduced temporal muscles, reduced masseter muscles, stone tools)

Genus Homo includes several species:

Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo sapiens and some other

Homo sapiens includes several subspecies:

H. s. heidelbergensis, H. s. neanderthalensis, and H. s. sapiens

Human reproductive strategies: concealed ovulation, rotational birth, loss of baculum; K vs. r reproductive strategies

Homo habilis

first appears ~2,5 mya in Africa at the time of global cooling

Oldowan stone tools, pebble tools, choppers

scavenging rather than hunting

cranial capacity 500-700 cc

Homo habilis and Australopithecines

differences: habilis has larger brain, smaller postorbital constriction, smaller chewing muscles, less flared out cheek bones

similarities: habilis has a slightly prognathic face, short stature, still has long arms and curved phalanges – probably hid in the trees from predators

Homo habilis is found only in Africa

Possible ancestors of Homo habilis:

Kenyanthropus, gracile australopithecines (?), may be A. garhi used tools

Homo erectus (1.9-300,000 ya)

average cranial capacity is more than 1000 cc

considerably taller than H. habilis, modern body proportions (short arms, long legs)

earliest is found in Africa.

H. erectus spreads around Eurasia in at least two waives:

1st wave: Dmanisi site in European Georgia (1.7 mya) earliest H. erectus in Europe,

very soon colonized China, and Java. Regional forms appear due to genetic drift and bottle necks.

2nd wave: after 1.5 mya – mostly colonization of Europe and Near East. This wave is marked by the spread of hand axes

Cranial features of Homo erectus: Supraorbital torus and supraorbital sulcus, occipital torus (on the back of the skull), sagittal keel, max breadth of skull is at the bottom of the skull

Very thick cranial bones

Technology: earliest use of fire is dated to Homo erectus (in Israel), fire is used only sporadically

Acheulean hand axes – very conservative stone tool technology persisted for more than a million years

Homo floresensis – a surviving Homo erectus(18,000 years ago)

Homo sapiens (500,000-now) includes several subspecies:

H. s. heidelbergensis, H. s. neanderthalensis, and H. s. sapiens

brain size of anatomically modern humans and larger

H. s. heidelbergensis – earliest subspecies of Homo sapiens, found in Africa

heavy brow ridges and occipital bun

Regional variation of stone tool traditions, hafting
H. s. neanderthalensis (250,000-30,000 ya)

average cranial capacity ~1500 cc

a homogenous group of archaic Homo sapiens displaying a number of unique features probably adaptations to cold climate

-very large, complex nasal cavities

-large sinuses,

-midfacial prognathism

-retromolar gap

-uses teeth as tools – strong wear of incisors

- heavy and stocky, broad shoulders, long clavicles, very robust skeleton, short extremities, esp. short tibia, camel-shaped knees

Technology and culture:

- Stone tool mass production: Mousterian technology of prepared cores.

Also hafted tools, and spears. Greater variety of stone tools than in H. erectus. However, variety of stone tools may be a result of resharpening the same basic tool.

- domestication of fire: ubiquitous hearths

- first “furniture”

- care for sick, and the first burials (Shanidar site in Iraq – deliberate burial by Neanderthals)

- unique artistic items are found on the late Neanderthal sites – probably were acquired from H. sapiens

Homo sapiens sapiens (anatomically modern Homo sapiens),

Earliest and intermediate forms are found in Africa ~ 150,000 – 100,000 years ago

- has chin

- orthognatic face

-vertical forehead

- high cranial vault

- chin

- max breadth of skull is higher than in neanderthals

Behaviorally modern humans and the great leap forward: infinitely variable tool kit

- pressure flaking (allows to detach long thin flakes from the core), invasive retouching on both sides of the tool; art, burial, ritual;

- Blombos cave (South Africa); Aurignacian stone tool technology – Upper Paleolithic


Having large brains means giving birth to babies with large heads. Homo had to develop adaptations to giving birth to large brain babies: 1) wider birth canal, 2) rotational birth, 3) babies are born with underdeveloped brain – require a lot of care from their mothers

=> women become economically dependant from men => monogamy or limited polygamy

Adaptations to cold: small surface/volume ratio in cold climate helps to conserve heat;

short extremities, esp. short tibias and digits help to conserve heat in cold climate. Animals in hot climates tend to have long extremities

Models of Homo sapiens sapiens origin:

Multiregional evolution vs. Single Origin

Multirigeaonal evolution - traces all populations to humans first leaving Africa over 1.7 – 1.5 mya. This model suggests that all populations of Homo erectus evolved towards Homo sapiens in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Single Origin – suggests that Homo sapiens sapiens evolved in Africa around 100,000 years ago from a population of Homo sapiens heidelbergensis and then spread into Europe in Asia, replacing archaic Homo sapiens.

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