Oh So Anthropological

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Posts tagged Human evolution

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Fossil hunters in Ethiopia are excavating a mandible, or lower jaw, of Ardipithecus ramidus. A fairly complete skeleton of this individual, nicknamed Ardi, is 4.4-million-years-old. It lived well before and was much more primitive than the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy skeleton, of the species Australopithecus afarensis. Unveiling the Ardi remains this week, scientists said this was the earliest known skeleton of a potential human ancestor.
Credit: Tim White and David L. Brill

Fossil hunters in Ethiopia are excavating a mandible, or lower jaw, of Ardipithecus ramidus. A fairly complete skeleton of this individual, nicknamed Ardi, is 4.4-million-years-old. It lived well before and was much more primitive than the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy skeleton, of the species Australopithecus afarensis. Unveiling the Ardi remains this week, scientists said this was the earliest known skeleton of a potential human ancestor.

Credit: Tim White and David L. Brill

Filed under Anthropology Archaeology Human Evolution Ardipithecus ramidus Lucy Australopithecus afarensis Ethiopia Osteology Mandible

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Keeping up with the Hominin

“Hominin – the group consisting of modern humans, extinct human species and all our immediate ancestors (including members of the genera Homo, Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Ardipithecus).”

Australian Museum.

A lot had happened this year with hominin research and some would redefine conventional understandings of this group. Below is a list of new studies that came out this year that I find quite interesting on hominin. Read up so you can show off in class with your knowledge of current hominin research. You know, just so you can make sure that your adjunct is really paying attention of what he/she is doing instead of begrudgingly teaching a class because he/she has to. Or maybe you have a geeky classmate you want to impress. Or if you’re like me, you just wanna be the smartest in class because Asian Fail is not an option. So, enjoy … and if they question you, tell them I said so.

Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus

Paranthropus boisei

From left to right: Comparison of upper jaw, P. boisei and H. sapiens. Photo from PhysOrg.

Homo erectus

  • Stone artifacts, mostly flakes from stone tools, from the Dmanisi site in Georgia (the country, not the state) might suggests that H. erectus evolved outside of Africa. However, no conclusive evidence can be made due to the poor conditions of fossils found near these artifacts. Human ancestors in Eurasia earlier than thought
  • H. erectus reached South Asia earlier than previously thought, between 1.5 to 1 million years ago according to Acheulean tools. Go east, ancient tool makers
An Acheulean hand ax found in India (South Asia) indicates that H. erectus moved to South Asia shortly after the invention of stone tools, around 1.6 million years ago. Photo from ScienceNews.

Homo neanderthalensis

  • Neandertals probably died off because there were too many early humans to compete with. According to a statistical analysis, the Périgord region of southwestern France has the highest concentration of Neandertals and early humans. The ratio between Neandertal to early human was 1 to 10. There were just too many humans for Neanderthals to survive
  • Mousterian culture might have lasted longer than previously thought and Neandertals might have spread as far as northern Russia in the mountains of Polar Urals, near the Arctic Circle. Last Neanderthals Near the Arctic Circle?

Homo floresiensis (the Hobbits)

  • The debate whether H. floresiensis is a separate species or just microcephalic H. sapiens continues on. New study shows that the measurement of the Hobbit skull is within the range of microcephalic H. sapiens. Taking the measure of a hobbit
From left to right: Homo floresiensis (LB1) and Homo sapiens.

Homo sapiens (early and modern humans)

*Bouchra child, Homo sapiens*

  • Dr. Harold Dribble and his team found the skull of “world’s oldest human child” dated around 108,000 years old in Morocco and nicknamed it Bouchra. The boy died when he was 8 years old. This specimen has not been described in any scientific paper so watch out for it soon. World’s Oldest Child Found in Morocco

(Source: anthropology.net)

Filed under Anthropology Hominin Human evolution Current events

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Teeth marks: Examination illuminates developmental differences between Neanderthals, modern humans

A sophisticated new examination of teeth from 11 Neanderthal and early human fossils shows that modern humans are slower than our ancestors to reach full maturity. The finding suggests that our slow development and long childhood are recent and unique to our own species, and may have given early humans an evolutionary advantage over Neanderthals.

The research, led by scientists at Harvard University, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology (MPI-EVA), and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), is detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Teeth are remarkable time recorders, capturing each day of growth much like rings in trees reveal yearly progress,” says Tanya M. Smith, assistant professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard. “Even more impressive is the fact that our first molars contain a tiny ‘birth certificate,’ and finding this birth line allows scientists to calculate exactly how old a juvenile was when it died.”

Compared with even early humans, other primates have shorter gestation, faster childhood maturation, younger age at first reproduction, and a shorter overall lifespan. It’s been unclear exactly when, in the 6 million to 7 million years since our evolutionary split from nonhuman primates, the life course shifted.

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Filed under Anthropology Human Evolution Neanderthals

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New Hypothesis for Human Evolution and Human Nature

It’s no secret to any dog-lover or cat-lover that humans have a special connection with animals. But in a new journal article and forthcoming book, paleoanthropologist Pat Shipman of Penn State University argues that this human-animal connection goes well beyond simple affection.  Shipman proposes that the interdependency of ancestral humans with other animal species — “the animal connection” — played a crucial and beneficial role in human evolution over the last 2.6 million years.

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Filed under Anthropology Human Evolution Human Nature Animal