Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory : Ian Tattersall :
Editorial Reviews. From Booklist. When the first edition of this encyclopedia title was published "The most up-to-date and wide-ranging encyclopedia work on human evolution available." -- American . Shop Online in India · Kindle Direct. First Online: 24 July What is the Relevance of Archaeology to Human Evolution? To date, the earliest archaeological traces are stone tools from sediments that are approximately .. Delson E, Tattersall I, Van Couvering J, Brooks AS () Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory. Selected References on Human Evolution and Paleoanthropology Ascent to Civilization; The Archaeology of Early Humans. 2nd ed. McGraw, This heavily illustrated book gives up-to-date coverage of human development from the earliest .. Also available online at northwestmusicscene.info evolution
Using similar methods of comparing genetic variation among human populations around the world, it is thought that all people living today share a common genetic ancestor. It is an enormous split torn into Earth's crust that runs from the forests in Tanzania to the deserts of Ethiopia. In some places the rift is thousands of feet deep and exposes the last fifteen million years of the earth 's history.
Here, fossil remains of our earliest ancestors can be found. Humankind appears to have first evolved in Africa, and the fossils of early humans, or hominids, who lived between five million and two million years ago, come entirely from Africa. Starting with the modern human skull, it is possible to trace our ancestry back millions of years. As we travel back in time, our ancestors look less and less like us and begin to resemble our closest relatives, the African apes. Because our physical and genetic characteristics are similar, evolutionary theory offers evidence that ancestral humans had a very close relationship to a group of primates, the apes.
Humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and the large apes of Africa share a common ancestor that lived between eight million and five million years ago.
Humans, or hominids, belong to the scientific order named Primates, a group of more than species of animals that includes the monkeys, lemurs, and apes. Modern humans have a number of physical characteristics resembling our ape ancestry.
The social systems of humans also share similarities with the African apes and other primates, such as baboons, chimpanzees, and rhesus monkeys. Chimps live, groom, feed, and hunt together and form strong family bonds. Early humankind probably had a similar lifestyle.
Scientists now know that nearly 98 percent of the genes in humans and chimpanzees are identical, making chimps the closest living biological relative of humans. However, there are fundamental differences between modern humans and their primate relatives. The human brain is larger and more complex, giving humankind the ability to communicate through language, art, and symbols, to walk upright, and to develop a throat structure that makes speech possible.
One of the earliest defining human traits is bipedalism, the ability to walk upright on two legs. This characteristic evolved over four million years ago. Other important human characteristics, such as a large and complex brain, the ability to make and use tools, and the capacity for language and culture, developed more recently.
Many of what we consider advanced traits, such as art, religion, and different expressions of cultural diversity, emerged during the pastyears. Most paleoanthropologists today recognize ten to fifteen different groups of early humans. They do not agree, however, about how they are related or which ones simply died out along the way.
Researchers also disagree about how to describe, identify, and classify these early human species, and what factors influenced the evolution and extinction of each species. Evolution of Australopithecines Nearly five million years ago in Africa, an apelike species evolved with two important traits that distinguished it from the apes.
This species had small canine teeth next to the four front teethand it was bipedalmeaning it could walk on two legs instead of four. Scientists refer to these earliest human species as australopithecines, or australopith for short.
Encyclopedia Smithsonian: Selected References on Human Evolution and Paleoanthropology
The fossil record shows that there is not an orderly sequence leading from one form to another. Several groups lived at the same time and characteristics developed at different rates; therefore the human family tree suggests a long and complex past. Fossils from several early australopith species that lived between four million and two million years ago clearly demonstrate a variety of adaptations that mark the transition between ape to human.
Prior to four million years ago, fossil remains are scarce and incomplete; where available, however, they do show a primitive combination of ape and human features. Most of the key characteristics that stand out as distinctly human are related to their bipedal stance.
The australopiths had an S-shaped spine that allowed for balance when standing. The opening through which the spinal cord attached to the brain was positioned more forward, allowing for the head to be balanced over the upright spine. The pelvic bone was shorter and broader than in apes, giving the pelvis a bowl shape that supported the internal organs when standing or walking upright.
The upper legs angled inward allowing the knees to support the body while standing or walking. Shorter and less flexible toes functioned as rigid levers for pushing off the ground with each step. Most early species had small canine teeth, a projecting face, and a small brain. They weighed between 22 and 37 kilograms 60 to poundsand were 0. Males were generally larger than females. Both had curved fingers and long thumbs with a wide range of movement.
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The apes, in comparison, have longer, more curved, and stronger fingers that make them well adapted for hanging and swinging from branches. Apes also have short thumbs, which limits their ability to manipulate small objects.
There were at least two major groups of australopithecine, one with very large teeth and heavy jaw muscles referred to as robust, and another referred to as gracile.
The main difference was in the size of the jaws and teeth. Beyond that, there was no appreciable difference in body size. The evidence suggests that the large-toothed robust group ate primarily plant foods, where as the gracile group concentrated on a more diverse diet that included meat. Details known about each group are delineated below. Early Australopiths or Gracile Group Ardipithecus ramidus. Discovered in and estimated at 4.
This ancient line suggests a close relationship with apes and chimps because of the enamel found on the teeth. Whether or not it walked upright is unknown. Discovered in and estimated at four million years old. Jaws were apelike but the legs were humanlike; it may have walked upright. Discovered in by Donald Johanson and known as "Lucy. Thought to walk upright and bipedal, these may have left footprints in volcanic ash in Laetoli 3.
Fossils show sexual differences, and suggest that they were adept at climbing trees. First found in by Raymond Dart, this was the first known australopith. Dating from 3 to 2. Many feel this is the best candidate as ancestor to early Homo species. Later Australopiths or Robust Group Australopithecus aethiopicus.
Found inthis group dates from 2. The skull, known as "the black skull," shows a possible relationship with A. This group lived over a long period of time, between 2. This skull has the most specialized features of the robust group, with a massive, wide face capable of withstanding extreme chewing forces.
This group lived between 1. This group had jaws, teeth, and habitat similar to A. Evolution of Modern Humans Homo habilis. After researchers unearthed the australopithecines, the next major "missing link" to be found was Homo habilis, an early representative of modern humankind. This creature was bipedal, fully upright, and had the capacity to use forearms for handling tools and weapons.
These fossil specimens show an increased brain size of cubic centimeters 37 cubic inchesand a jaw and tooth size more closely resembling modern humans. Any residual physical traits for climbing had also disappeared.
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Cut marks on bones suggest the use of tools to prepare meat. They probably retained some of the skeletal characteristics of the australopithecines that made them great climbers. They may have spent considerable time in trees foraging, sleeping, and avoiding predators. They were the first of our relatives to have opposable thumbs, and the fossil skulls show physical traces of asymmetrical brain development, which is reflected in the way that stone tools were shaped.
Some researchers feel that Homo habilis had a large enough brain to have the rudimentary capacity for speech that may have encouraged cooperation and sharing amongst members of a group.
That our distant H. An Introduction to Human Evolutionary Anatomy. Neandertals and Modern Humans in Western Asia. A Cave's Chronicle of Early Man. Transvaal Museum Monograph 8; The Hunters or the Hunted? An Introduction to African Cave Taphonomy. University of Chicago Press, The Search for Eve. The Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence.
Foundations of Human Behavior Ser. Aldine de Gruyter, Cartmill, Matt, William L.
Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory : Second Edition
Hylander and James Shafland. Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi and Francesco L. The Great Human Diaspora: A History of Diversity and Evolution. Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi, et al. The History and Geography of Human Genes. The Prehistory of Africa. Thames and Hudson, The Human Evolution Source Book. Advances in Human Evolution. Prentice Hall, College Div. Primate Evolution and Human Origins. Guide to Fossil Man. A handy reference to early human fossils organized by country and sites where the fossils were found.
Includes descriptions and often photographs of the fossils. The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain. Delson, Eric, et al. Clarendon Press; Oxford Univ. Henry Holt and Co. Patterns in Human Evolutionary Ecology. The Prehistory of Global Colonization. Tools, Language, and Cognition in Human Evolution.
The Biological Roots of Human Nature: Gathering and Hunting in Human Evolution. Columbia University Press, Interesting, well-illustrated article reporting the discovery of fossilized footprint 3.