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Human Evolution and PREHISTORY

Human Evolution and PREHISTORY

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Human Evolution and PREHISTORY

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  1. Human Evolution andPREHISTORY Chapter Eight: HOMO ERECTUS AND THE EMERGENCE OF HUNTING AND GATHERING San persistence hunting

  2. Chapter Preview Who Was Homo erectus/ergaster? What Were The Cultural Capabilities Of Homo erectus/ergaster? What Were The Consequences Of Homo erectus/ergaster’s Improved Abilities To Adapt Through Culture?

  3. Homo erectus/ergaster hominin complex • Some anthropologists view the variation in post-1.9 my Homo fossils of Africa, Asia and Europe to be different enough to warrant two species • Others (“lumpers”) assign all fossils immediately after Homo habilis only to Homo erectus • There are great adaptive similarities; hence, a hominin complex

  4. Homo erectus/ergaster Fossils Fossil evidence shows that by 1 million-500,000 ya hominins of this species had spread from Africa to China, Europe, the Republic of Georgia, India, Java

  5. Homo erectus/ergaster • Cranial capacity range, 600 – 1,225 cc; overlaps with KNM ER1470 and modern humans (figure 8.3) • Low, long, narrow cranial vault, with greatest width at base • Near-modern development of brain, especially in speech area • Massive brow ridges with marked constriction • Sloping forehead and receding chin • Rugged face, teeth and jaws but smaller than H. habilis

  6. Homo erectus/ergaster

  7. Homo erectus/ergaster Postcranial skeleton • Known mainly from African H. ergaster • More heavily muscled than ours • Increase in stature from early Homo • Decrease in sexual dimorphism in body size; this may be due to the increase in female size as an adaptation to childbirth

  8. Homo erectus from Java • Eugene Dubois, original discoverer of first fossils in 1891 • 1.8 million to 500,000 years ago • About 40 individuals • Teeth and jaws of earliest fossils are quite similar to those of Homo habilis

  9. Homo erectus from China • Davidson Black was the original discoverer of the first H. erectus fossils (~45 individuals) at Zhoukoudian in 1927 • Sinanthropus • 600,000 to 300,000 years ago

  10. Homo erectus from China Recent discoveries: • Earliest fossil (Lunguppo), a lower jaw fragment as old as the Java fossils • resembles African Homo habilis • Overall, Chinese fossils are more recent than the Java and have more modern characteristics, e.g. smaller teeth, larger cranial capacity

  11. Homo erectus/ergaster

  12. The African Fossils Olduvai and Lake Turkana • 12-year old boy who died 1.6 mya • An adult who died of a massive overdose of vitamin A Olorgesailie, Kenya • Slightly younger than 1 my

  13. Turkana boy Remains of a boy who died in his early teens.

  14. The African Fossils In some African fossils, there are more strongly developed brow ridges and temporal muscle scars than in Asian fossils In others, there are thinner crania and more primitive mandibles The variation between Asian and African/European fossils may lie well beyond that of a single species

  15. Homo erectus from Europe • Dmansi, republic of Georgia, dating to 1.7 mya • Likely ancestor to Asian H. erectus • Difficult to assign to a species because they share characteristics with both earlier and later fossils • Cranium is small and rounded, with face similar to early H. erectus/ergaster • Mandible is unique • Brain size is small, within range of H. habilis

  16. Earliest Homo erectus from Europe • England, Germany, Spain, Italy • 860,000 to 500,000 years ago • The Spanish fossils are the oldest human ancestors with a relatively modern face • These fossil traits are derived and the discoverers of the fossils place them in a separate species, H. antecessor, ancestral to H. heidelbergensis

  17. Multiple Species • The fact that the earliest evidence of hominins comes from Spain and Italy suggests crossing from North Africa • Open water crossing was required, a feat that H. erectus/ergaster was capable of doing 800,000 ya in Indonesia • Gene flow was possible between Africa and Europe; could the early Europeans be a separate species if there was no reproductive isolation? (see Table 8.1, text)

  18. Relationship between H. erectus/ergaster and H. habilis • Smaller teeth and larger brains are a continuation of the trend first seen in H. habilis • New traits are increased body size, reduced sexual dimorphism, more “human” body form • It is difficult to distinguish early erectus/ergaster from habilis (Figure 8.6), but likely one evolved from the other fairly abruptly, 1.9 to 1.6 mya

  19. THE CULTURE OF Homo erectus/ergaster

  20. The Acheulean Tool Tradition • Africa, Europe, Southwest Asia • Handaxe is central tool • In East Africa, handaxes date to 1.6 mya • In Europe, they are no older than 500,000 years • Sites in Europe increase in number dramatically at same time as handaxes appear; this suggests increased gene flow into Europe

  21. Characteristics of Acheulean Tools • Developed from the Oldowan tradition, e.g. Beds I and II, Olduvai • Tool shapes have become standardized • Sharper points and more regular cutting edges than Oldowan tools • More cutting edge available from same amount of stone

  22. Acheulean Tool Kits • Diversification • Cleavers, picks and knives • Flake tools • Retouched flakes, e.g. points, scrapers, borers • Supplementary tools of bone, antler, wood

  23. Tools in East Asia • Spread of Homo from Africa took place before the invention of the handaxe • In East Asia people developed a variety of choppers, scrapers, points, burins different from those in the West • Overall, stone implements were not common; likely bamboo and other local woods were used

  24. ORIGINAL STUDY Homo erectus and the Use of Bamboo • The frequency of the handaxe in Asian tool kits is very low • Chopper-chopping tools predominate • Their distribution coincides with the distribution of bamboo • It has been suggested that bamboo was the main source of materials for making tools and the stone choppers were manufactured to work with bamboo

  25. Each tool served more than one purpose; e.g. handaxes could kill game, dig up roots Improved selection of raw materials, e.g. flint rather than basalt Invention of the baton and striking-platform methods of percussion Acheulean Tools

  26. Use of Fire • Earliest use of fire appears in South Africa, 1.3 to 1 mya, possibly for protection from predators • Kao Poh Nam rock shelter, Thailand, 700,000 ya; fire hearth with butchered, burned animal bones • Other uses for fire could have been warmth, light, cooking, thawing carcasses, clearing forest • Fire gave people more control over their environment

  27. Other Aspects of Homo erectus culture • Construction of shelters, e.g. Bilzingsleben, Germany, 350,000 ya • Clothing was necessary in the climates of China and Europe Courtesy of Palomar College, Anthropology

  28. Other Aspects of Homo erectus culture • Developed an ability to organize a hunt for live animals, and skill in hunting e.g. Ambrona and Torralba, Spain, 400,000 ya elephants, horses, rhinoceroses butchered and killed

  29. Other Aspects of Homo erectus culture 4. open-water travel,e.g. to the island of Flores, Indonesia • Rudimentary symbolic artifacts, e.g. ox rib with engraving from a site in France

  30. Language • Vocal tract and brain of Homo erectus are intermediate between Homo sapiens and Australopithecus • Modern-sized hypoglossal canal by 500,000 years ago • Changeover from gestural to spoken language may have played role in reduction of tooth and jaw size, making it easier to speak

  31. NEXT TIME: Archaic Homo sapiens and the Middle Paleolithic